London (dpa) – José Mourinho received his first trophy as coach of Tottenham Hotspur before the top match against England football champions Liverpool.
The Premier League named him November Coach of the Month – to which he reacted with remarkable caution. “It says Coach of the Month, but to me it means Team of the Month or Employee of the Month,” said Mourinho. But the 57-year-old has other titles in his sights with the traditional club.
Wednesday-evening’s game with Jürgen Klopp’s team could lead the way. With an away win at Anfield, the Mourinho eleven were able to distance themselves at least a little from the current equal contenders and underline their ambitions for the title. Even if hardly anyone in North London has said so far – under Mourinho, secret hopes for the first championship in 60 years are growing.
When the Portuguese joined Spurs in November 2019, it was different. His reputation was shattered. He had been fired from Chelsea and Man United’s second engagement, but his commitment to Tottenham was controversial. Many thought Mourinho’s time was up, and few welcomed the title collector with open arms. After all, just six months before his release, he’d won trophies with Chelsea and Man United – with the Blues even the championship, with the Red Devils the Europa League.
“To dare is to do” is the motto of the Spurs club, roughly translated: Who dares wins. At first, the risk didn’t seem to work for club boss Daniel Levy, who was the driving force behind the star commitment. In Mourinho’s first season, Spurs only finished in sixth place, the 2019 Champions League finalist missed qualification for the premier league. For some, “The Special One” was considered a failure by Londoners.
Less than six months later, Tottenham are unbeaten in eleven games and are number 1 in the rankings. Manchester United got 6-1, Man City and arch-rival Arsenal were each beaten 2-0. And after reaching 0-0 at Chelsea, Mourinho announced: “A draw at Stamford Bridge is actually a good thing (…). But nobody in my dressing room was happy with it, which is great.”
The trainer is working on a new winning mentality. “The history of football is that the teams with the good guys never win,” grumbled Mourinho in a scene on the Amazon documentary series “All Or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur”. In fact, the team seems to have changed. Unlike Mauricio Pochettino, it sometimes wins ugly when it has to. “If you don’t like to watch it, don’t watch it,” Mourinho said on Sky Sports.
His relationship with the players is considered excellent. The storm duo with Harry Kane and former Bundesliga striker Heung-Min Son, who together scored 19 of the 24 league goals, are in top form. The new addition Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who used to play for Bayern, turned out to be a real reinforcement. Even record purchases by Tanguy Ndombele, whom Mourinho had sharply criticized over the summer, are now flourishing. The game at Anfield will be a real indication of what is possible this season.
The fans have long been used to disappointment. The Spurs have been almost chronically trophy-free in England for decades – on par with Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga – as a team that is often close but always lacks great success in the last meters. Mourinho is more of the opposite and perhaps the man missed Tottenham Hotspur for the title.