Jose Mourinho’s failed Tottenham Hotspur project is evidence his coaching methods are not as effective as they once were as he leaves a club without a trophy for the first time since the early days of his coaching career in Portugal.
The Portuguese, once lauded as one of the greatest coaches of his generation, was sacked by Spurs on Monday with the club down in seventh in the Premier League standings and having already been eliminated from European competition this season. [
Despite winning Manchester United their last trophy in 2017, many fans were not disappointed when Mourinho was sacked in December 2018, with United 19 points behind then leaders Liverpool in the Premier League standings.
The same issues came to the fore at Spurs ever since Mourinho succeeded the hugely popular Mauricio Pochettino. Despite a wealth of attacking talent at both Spurs and United, Mourinho’s negative tactics drew much criticism.
Former Spurs midfielder Jamie Redknapp said in December Mourinho was “asking for trouble” with such a reserved approach, while ex-striker Darren Bent labelled Mourinho’s tactics “outdated”.
While Juergen Klopp’s high intensity approach has revolutionised the way Liverpool play, and Pep Guardiola’s ever-evolving Johan Cruyff-inspired system has steered Manchester City to much success, Mourinho’s style has remained unmoved.
Chairman Daniel Levy wanted a blockbuster name when he went for Mourinho, with an Amazon documentary to sell, but on the morning after Spurs joined the prospective 12-team European Super League, Mourinho was surplus to requirements.
His record is not as imposing as it once was. Mourinho won just 51% of his games in charge in all competitions at Spurs – only with Leiria (45%) – his second ever job – has he posted a lower win ratio with a single club during his managerial career.
Spurs’ 10 defeats this campaign is the most a Mourinho side has ever suffered in a single league season, while only in 2015-16 with Chelsea (0.9) and 2018-19 with United (1.5) has a Mourinho side averaged fewer points per game than Spurs in 2020-21 (1.6).
What’s more, once a serial winner, Mourinho has won one league title in the last nine years. His great rival Guardiola has managed five, likely soon to be six, in that time.
There is much uncertainty in the game after the announcement of the much-maligned Super League, with it unclear what the footballing landscape will look like across the continent.
Mourinho’s future looks equally up in the air.
In his last three jobs he left Chelsea when 16th in the table in December 2015, failed to revitalise United’s fortunes, and did not live up to the billing at Spurs. Another big club may think twice about giving Mourinho a chance.
He has ran out of options in England – Arsenal and City’s style would not fit and Klopp is not going anywhere – unless he takes a role outside the traditional ‘big six’, leaving his opportunities limited around Europe.
Mourinho still likes to upset the odds, but on his recent record, and the disruption caused along the way, the offers are unlikely to be as plentiful as they once were.