But You Know That We’ve Changed So Much Since Then…

Back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time since West Brom and Manchester City on 8th and 21st November plus the fact we somehow avoided yet another 1-1 draw are about the only good things to be sucked from that bitter lemon of a second half against Fulham.

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Via the A219

When was the last time we had such impressive back-to-back wins as we’ve just witnessed against Wolfsberger and Burnley?

Roy Keane would probably say it was the last time we faced such poor opposition in back-to-back games and cite Brentford* and Marine on 5th and 10th January, then smirk into his elk’s-backside of a beard while pointing out that the next time we faced not even half-decent opposition – that rearranged game against Fulham on the 13th January – we only managed a 1-1 draw.

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Tottenham v RZ Pellets WAC, Ropey

Tottenham Hotspur boss Jose Mourinho says Gareth Bale does not need to convince him of anything as they prepare for their Europa League last 32 second leg with Wolfsberger.

Bale scored and assisted in the first leg, a 4-1 win, and then set up a goal in Sunday’s 2-1 loss to West Ham.

“I am totally convinced about everything,” Mourinho said.

“It’s about being ready to play the minutes we’d all love him to play. It’s a process.”

Bale has played all of Spurs’ seven Europa League games this season but has only played 90 minutes once in any competition since rejoining on loan from Real Madrid.

Mourinho said: “Of course we’d love him to play every minute of every game. He’s a player with special qualities.

“He had a positive impact against West Ham, a cross, a couple of assists, a shot, he hit the post. He’s doing that better and better. But he’s not playing 90 minutes, he’s not playing every game.

“We’re still managing his evolution. He needs to do nothing to convince me.”

Spurs look in control of the Europa League tie against the Austrian side after winning 4-1 in their ‘away’ leg in Budapest.

No team in Uefa Cup or Europa League history have overturned a three-goal deficit from the first leg at home to progress.

Mourinho says he will name a near full-strength side again at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

“Our starting line-up will be very similar to the one that started the game in Hungary. We want to go strong,” he said.

Match stats – can Spurs make it five in a row?

  • Spurs have won all three of their home matches against Austrian sides and are yet to concede – including a 3-0 win against LASK earlier this season
  • Tottenham have won each of their past four home matches in all European competitions, scoring 16 goals while conceding only twice. They last won five in a row at home in Europe between August 2013 and February 2014.
  • Wolfsberger have played eight away games in all European competitions and have won more games (four) than they have lost (three).
  • No Spurs player has scored more Europa League goals this season than Carlos Vinicius (four, same as Lucas Moura), netting each of these in his past three appearances.

Tottenham’s problems aren’t Mourinho’s fault. Jose said so

Vithushan Ehantharajah The Independant Sports Feature Writer @Vitu_E

Five defeats in the last six. Just three wins in 13 league matches. The 81 points from 50 games in charge at Tottenham Hotspur – the lowest at this stage at any stint at a club. In turn, this 15th loss – an eighth of the season – gives him the lowest league-win percentage of an

If ever there was a moment to ask Jose Mourinho if he was the problem, here it was. That perhaps after his protestations about the players – those he lauded when he first took the job and praised to the hilt during their four weeks at the summit into December – his methods were the problem.

When it came, devoid of the sugar of what he has accomplished, presented ready and raw as a natural query off the back of his worst run as a manager, so came an all too predictable answer.

“No. Not at all. Not at all. Zero.” Then the elaboration: “Sometimes the result are a consequence of multi situations in football. Mine and my coaching staff’s methods are second to nobody in the world.” Even in the face of overwhelming evidence, Mourinho found a brazen excuse where others might have fessed up to their own shortcomings.nullnull

It was almost too neat that he would bring up his half-century against the same team that began in. A 3-2 win back in November 2019, at a London Stadium filled to the brim of disgruntled West Ham fans was set against a calmer Mourinho on his return to management. On Sunday, the freneticism was in every contested throw-in and against every player in white. Every slight against him reverberating off the empty stands as forlornly as they were bellowed out.

Are Spurs in crisis? Yes, probably, though Mourinho even tried to rally against the very definition of that word: “If crisis is frustration and sadness in the dressing room, I would say so because nobody is happy. Groups are in crisis when you are not together in search of better results. I wouldn’t say crisis. I’d say a really bad run of results. We are losing too many matches.” I don’t know about you, but that all sounds like a good old, traditional crisis

There might be some relief for the players within that jumble. We’re at the stage in the Mourinho cycle where they are the problem, and if the English language can take some of the heat off them, they might at least catch a moment’s rest.

This week marked the first trimester of the inward blame season for those with an attuned Mourinho dial. Its warm breeze drifted in last week with talk of “we coaches are as good or as bad as our players make us”, and the weekend’s chat of world-beating practises was a noticeable temperature rise. We can’t be too far away from medals-on-the-table patter and the sweltering days of moles and bad eggs in the dressing room.

However, as well-versed as we may be on the final stanza of this Mourinho story, there is unique toxicity to all this that will affect Spurs more than previous clubs. The kind that calls for more concern than flippancy. Even a degree of vigilance.

When the Special One turned sour against his own at Real Madrid, the players held firm knowing they would outlast him. Plus, where else would they want to go? He sowed the first few seeds for Iker Casillas’s departure. Still, even when that came a couple of years after Mourinho’s departure, the blame was mainly on club president Florentino Perez.

The group at Chelsea stuck around when he left Stamford Bridge swinging at the end of 2015 after nine league defeats, a tally Spurs are in danger of “bettering”. That identical squad, give or take a couple who moved on the following winter, stayed on to lift Chelsea’s fifth Premier League title in 2016/17 under Antonio Conte, including sparring partner Eden Hazard. Only Eva Carneiro was notable collateral from this fallout.

Even Manchester United were relatively intact from a tumultuous two years under the Portuguese. All of Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial remain key players under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 2021.

When you lay it all out there, for someone who has worked hard to cultivate this image as a Machiavellian, “take no s***” type, Mourinho has a poor track record for taking out his enemies. But the worry for Spurs fans is that he might have more success soon.

He has already seen off Christian Eriksen. Dele Alli’s ego has been this season’s most popular punching bag, though Gareth Bale’s has also been copped a few blows.

Toby Alderweireld, convinced to sign a new four-year deal at the end of 2019, is said to now be looking for an out. The whispers around Son Heung-min don’t need to be taken seriously just yet, but even the mere suggestion that one of the prolific double act is wondering if all this is worth the hassle should cause alarm. What happens when things continue on this downward trajectory?

A respite of sorts is on the horizon with the next three league fixtures against relegation-concerned Burnley, Fulham and Sheffield United which bodes well considering Leeds United (12th) are the only non-bottom six side Spurs have beaten this year. Then comes a north-London derby against an equally tentative Arsenal.

Sat in ninth, those high profile players may wonder if trophies lie elsewhere. Mourinho came with the promise of riches that have yet to come to fruition. Only the Europa League carries any semblance of satisfaction, not just of silverware but their most likely route into the Champions League.

Unlike at Real Madrid, Chelsea, and Manchester United, Mourinho and Spurs’ malaise are starting to feel one of the same. Intertwined like wire headphones in your pocket.

He retains the trust of Harry Kane. But for how long? Kane turns 28 this year, and with the niggles stacking up, his peak will only last for so long. At what point does he start to ponder if he needs to move on to fill that mantlepiece with more than a few player-of-the-month awards and hat-trick balls?

Watching Spurs these last few weeks, you might wonder if this is simply a natural rot. Many of these players have been together for five years and, perhaps, they have exceeded their natural life-cycle. The final 12 months under Mauricio Pochettino indicated a level of restlessness that was laid squarely at the Argentine’s feet.

But aside from the brief uptick this campaign, there is no doubt Mourinho has exacerbated such a malaise. And it’s hard to escape that only distance between the two entities will remedy that.

As such, the question to ask is what will cost more: the severance Daniel Levy must fork out to remove Mourinho or to lose prime assets that will require twice as much to replace adequately? The latter will set the club back by years. The former won’t have any bearing on the man at the centre of it all. After all, none of this is his fault

Blowing

Pedro Mendes and Steve Archibald are supported by Danny Murphy on drums at the Tottenham Hotspur summer barbecue in Daniel Levy’s back garden in the summer of 2018, which, with hindsight, seems a much simpler time…

I guess there’s no shame in getting pasted by City considering the form they’re in at the moment, and even in the happier days of Pochettino’s 2017/18 third-placed Wembley season there was a pre-Christmas 4-1 pasting at The Etihad.

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Wolfsberger AC: small-town Austrian team tackling Spurs in Europa League

Austrian upstarts with their own priest aim to surprise José Mourinho’s Tottenham with their high press

David Müller, The Guardian in Wolfsberg

After the Europa League draw in December, Wolfsberger AC took the opportunity to extend a helping hand to their last-32 opponents, Tottenham Hotspur. Posting a picture of José Mourinho and a speech bubble saying, “Can anybody tell me where Wolfsberg is?” they added: “If you can’t find us, we will help you” with a winking emoji and, “Looking forward to seeing you @SpursOfficial”.

Welcome to Wolfsberg, José. This is not Wolfsburg, the German Bundesliga side sponsored and powered by Volkswagen. This is Wolfsberger AC, from the tiny town of Wolfsberg in southern Austria, not far from the Slovenian border. Their most famous supporter is a priest.

That is not to say Tottenham will have an easy game on Thursday in the first leg, moved to Budapest.

The Wolfsberg assistant coach, Mo Sahli, told the Guardian this week that they were approaching the tie with belief rather than apprehension. “Tottenham is the biggest club WAC has ever faced,” he said. “We are well aware of our role as underdogs and know Tottenham are the favourites but every game starts 0-0. We are really looking forward to these games.”

Sahli, who has coached at RB Salzburg and FC Liefering, has been at Wolfsberg since summer 2019 and shot to fame, at least in his native Tunisia, when he became caretaker in November 2019 and the first African manager to gain a point in a European club competition with a 2-2 draw with Roma in the Europa League group stage. He had not fully understood his achievement until he returned home to an outpouring of adulation from local media.

He returned to his role as assistant when the club appointed Ferdinand Feldhofer in December 2019 and this season they have reached the Europa League knockout stage for the first time. Last season they were eliminated at the group stage despite two draws against Roma and a stunning 4-0 win at Borussia Mönchengladbach.

It is a remarkable achievement for WAC (Wolfsberger Athletik Club), which was founded in 1931 but led a quiet life until Dietmar Riegler, a former player turned businessman, became president in 2007, bringing capital and leadership as well as a joining of forces with another local team, SK St Andrä. The ascent was rapid, leading to promotion into the Austrian Bundesliga for the first time in 2013.

After six consecutive years in the top flight, the team finished third in 2019, leading to their first European campaign, and they followed that with another third place. This season they navigated the group stage successfully, finishing above Feyenoord and CSKA Moscow to set up this tie with Spurs.

The team play a rapid and hard-pressing style of football – potentially bad news for Mourinho after he admitted his players were tired after the defeat against Manchester City. Wolfsberg may be without last season’s goalscoring hero, Shon Weissman, who joined Real Valladolid in August, but the captain Michael Liendl has 12 goals this season from his attacking midfield role and Dejan Joveljic, on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt, is the No 10.

But it is not only the players on the pitch whom Spurs come up against. Krzysztof Jacek Kranicki became the club’s official priest at the start of the year, giving him the opportunity to be there “on the ground for both the team and for the fans”, he told meinbezirk.at. It means that fans and players, according to the local bishop, Josef Marketz, “are helped by the love and belief of God and that they can go be brave and full of elan in life as well as the games”.

Kranicki became well known locally as a supporter of the team after ringing the main church bells following the 4-0 victory against Mönchengladbach and celebrating a holy mass at the Vatican for 200 WAC fans who had travelled to watch their club play Roma in 2019.

The club have come a long way in a short time and the games against Tottenham will be another milestone. Whatever happens against Mourinho’s Spurs, WAC have already won.

The Hope’s Just Barely…

It’s not alright, it’s not okay, you might want to look the other way, you shouldn’t try to understand, Tottenham Hotspur’s effect on man….

When Gerry Francis resigned as Spurs Manager in November 1997, one of his coaching staff was reported to have said ‘at least we won’t have to listen to that song anymore’ with that song being ‘we want our Tottenham back’, a chant which had begun to roll down off the terraces with increasing volume and venom as the low-scoring non-event matches stacked up.

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Something To Chew On

Pre-match entertainment for tonight’s 5th round FA Cup clash with Everton.

A blast from our distant past reporting on our first FA Cup meeting with Everton in the 1st round of the FA Cup on 6th February 1904.

from The Sporting Life, Monday, February 8, 1904

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR, 2: EVERTON, 1.

THE SPURS IN FORM

            The hope of the London district, Tottenham Hotspur, came out on top on Saturday, where they bearded the Everton lion in his den, and came away victorious. The test was, without a shadow of a doubt, the best of the afternoon, and those who saw them run round the Evertonians are loud in their praise of their tactics and ability. The game had all along in Lancashire being regarded as the titbit of the Palatine games, and though the gate was not so large as one might have expected, still it was a good one, and will stand the Spurs in good stead. It was, however, only 20,000, and the amount is not so much as would have been taken at Tottenham. The Spurs had been training in the Southport district, and went over to Liverpool in the middle of the day by the West Coast line, the whole lot under the care of Cameron, the old Evertonian, being in the very best possible order. The Evertonians had been taking their breathings on the North side of the Ribble Estuary, and, like their opponents, arrived in the city about noon in the best of condition and confident of success. But weather and ground were bad, the game being mudlarking pure and simple. The morning opened dull and murky, and finally broke away into a regular soaker. The ground had got a gruelling in the middle of the week, and the downpour did not mend it at all – it was simply a quagmire. The Spurs had a decent following, several excursions being run from Tottenham. Booth led his men into a rousing accompaniment, the Spurs coming out a minute afterwards. No time was wasted in starting, Ruth beating Jones in the spin of the coin. J. Jones and Hughes conceded free kicks in the first minute, and from the second of these Booth made a fine attempt to score, the ball just topping the bar. Fouls were fashionable, and now it was Wolstenholme’s turn. From the free kick Kirwan ran and centred finely, Woodward calling upon Balmer to effect a glorious clearance. The excitement visibly increased, and the Spurs were certainly moving in prime fashion. Crelly was passed by Warner, and the latter centred splendidly to Kirwan, who missed the ball and

            A RARE SCORING CHANCE AT THE SAME TIME.

Sharp made a big effort to pull his forwards together, but in a long run with Tait the latter just succeeded to tipping the ball out of danger. Offside spoiled both Settle and Corrin. The players paid no heed to the drenching downpour, but some of them experienced great difficulty in preserving the equilibrium. Hughes fouled Taylor, but J. L. Jones covered the discrepancy. The Spurs’ attacking brigade worked with a better understanding than did their opponents and Woodward plied both wings very judiciously. However, Everton hereabouts worked in smarter fashions, and both Settle and Taylor were only knocked off the ball in the nick of time. Kirwan outwitted his rival backs neatly, and transferred to Copeland, who brought Kitchen out of goal with a capital cross shot. Kitchen came to effect a thorough clearance, ran out some distance to kick away. Settle lost the ball rather foolishly consequent upon over-elaboration, and the Everton goal was endangered thereby. The play up to now had been very much in favour of the Londoners, who time after time got

            GOING IN POWERFUL FASHION.

            When the first half was three-quarters over the first goal had still to come. It was not long, however. The Spurs halves and backs tackled almost unerringly, and whatever there was to enthuse in attack generally emanated from the visiting vanguard. Woodward – considered mum too robust — played with surprising dash on the heavy ground. Judgement was writ large, too, in most that he attempted. His dribbling was fine, and he here proved so troublesome to Abbott that the latter perforce failed the amateur gently, but the free kick worked off harmlessly. Everton dashed to the Tottenham end, and in saving a time sort of shot settle compelled Williams to lose his grip and a corner ensued, which was cleared. Abbott again failed Woodward, and from the free kick Kitchen conceded a corner. This was finally placed by Warner, and kitchen, rushing out, missed the ball, Woodward heading a lovely goal — this after thirty minutes’ play. Just previously Kitchen had saved well from Copeland, who was unwittingly given the ball by booth. Stung by the reverse, Everton played up, and Corrin went very close with a long dropping effort. more trouble was in store for Everton as the visiting forwards again menaced, and J. Jones sending in the capital shot was gratified to see Balmer just turned the ball through his own goal. Had Balmer not attempted a clearance kitchen would have had little difficulty in clearing the ball. in the ensuing play Everton seldom looked like making up their leeway. just on the interval Everton made a big effort to put a better complexion on the game. Settle, Taylor, and McDermott each tested Williams, but the custodian refused to be beaten. Half-time : Tottenham Hotspur, two goals : Everton, nil.

             The ‘Spurs Had a lot of the best of the first half, but in the second the Evertonians played better, and though the visitors’ halves and backs were again in the best of trim they were often are in trouble then before. Everton tried the rushing game for a time, but the ‘Spurs were equally lively, and refused to be caught napping. Their defenders fairly revelled in breaking up the Toffees’ attack. A sign of weakness, too, was the frequent fouling of the visitors by the Blues. A fine burst away by Woodward placed the Everton defence on tenter-hooks, who passed Crelly and so hustled Balmer that the latter was constrained to pass back to Kitchen, who had to run out. Fortunately, no mishap occurred, but a minute later Woodward missed scoring by a miracle, when he had only kitchen to beat. Tottenham’s goal was the scene of a desperate struggle. Williams was plied with all manner of shots, and his saves from both McDermott and Booth were brilliant in the extreme. Several corners fell to the Blues, but Williams came out on top every time. From a centre by Corrin , Sharp missed the chance of the match, the little man missing the ball by inches when it required only a tap to put it through. With only fifteen minutes to go Everton had not yet scored. They made their effort, but it was not until a couple of minutes from the close that they had their reward. Crelly was fouled, and the ball being worked well forward, Watson scored a fine goal. The crowd went frantic, but the goal had surely come too late, and despite Everton’s giant efforts, the whistle went with the Southerners winning by two goals to one. Referee, Mr Ward (Nottingham). Teams :-

            EVERTON.—Kitchen (goal), Ralmer [sic] and Crelley (backs), Wolstenholme, Booth, and Abbott (half-backs), Sharp, Taylor, Settle, McDermott, and Corrin.

            TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR.—Williams (goal), Watson and Tait (backs), Morris, Hughes, and J. L. Jones (half-backs), Warner, J. Jones, V. J. Woodward, Copeland, and Kirwan.

COYS!

José Mourinho’s rigid thinking brings zombified display from Tottenham

By Barney Ronay, The Guardian

With three minutes still to play at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the score 1-0 to Chelsea – as it had been for what felt like at least a fortnight – something odd happened to Carlos Vinícius. He had a chance to score a goal. Serge Aurier delivered a fine cross from the right. Vinícius leapt well, wrenched his neck and made contact.

Spurs had woken up late in this game. Flustered, eyes still gummed shut, this drained and listing group of players had finally made it to the table. A point would have been a sensational return, even against a Chelsea team that had also faded.

Instead the header from Vinícius drifted past the post. And there was at least a kind of justice in this. Spurs didn’t really deserve it. José Mourinho, who from the start set his tyro centre-forward the task of playing just like prime Harry Kane, certainly didn’t deserve it.

Oh, José. For the first half of this weirdly gripping Premier League game it seemed Chelsea’s players were being set an unexpected philosophical conundrum. Never mind trying to win a match against active opponents. How do you kill that which was never really alive in the first place? How do you put away a team that comes pre-put away?

For 45 minutes Tottenham Hotspur were a zombified thing, barely an active participant. Throughout this Mourinho paced his touchline, hood draped limply over his shoulders. He looked concerned, bothered but not really cross or angry – and rightly so. Anger is best reserved for something that can be corrected. These Spurs players didn’t just look short of confidence, they looked like an army sent into battle with a baguette in one hand and a map etched in invisible ink in the other.

It was all the more galling that Tottenham improved significantly after half-time simply by playing higher up the pitch, doing football-type things. By that point 45 minutes of everyone’s life had already been and gone. Football isn’t about waiting for the other person to die of boredom, a wise man once said. This looked, in those opening moments, like a team bored with itself.

Mourinho picked his best available 11 here, with no departure from that meat-and-potatoes 4-2-3-1. So yes: the same formation as every other week, but with your main man replaced by one of the least proven members of your squad. Is this a good idea?

Why play a system that involves funnelling the ball through the centre forward every time, Harry Kane-style, when the centre forward is no longer Harry Kane? Why ask Vinícius to do everything, when he’s just learning how to do the main thing?

This was hyper-rigid stuff from Mourinho,who might have tried some other shape to fit his personnel, but instead simply sent out Spurs as a slightly worse Spurs, with half of the two-man attacking plan absent. Early on Vinícius was sent striding forward on the break with Son Heung-min haring off to one side, Steven Bergwijn the other. He almost fell over his feet trying to work out what to do.

Understandably so. This is not a criticism of Vinícius, it is a criticism of Mourinho, of ossified thinking, of setting a near-impossible task then looking baffled when it turns out to be, you know, quite difficult.

But this is where we are now with this deflating entity. From the start Tottenham dropped instantly into that neurotically deep defensive block. They managed something amazing early on, succeeding in being outnumbered both in the centre and down the flanks at the same time.

Ben Davies was repeatedly overrun by Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James. And Chelsea were awarded a penalty. Nothing about this was surprising. It came down Chelsea’s right. It came because Spurs were playing so deep every exchange was taking place in or around their own area.

Timo Werner made a fine run out to that side, and then simply allowed Eric Dier to thrash around on the grass in front of him. For what felt like an eternity Dier waggled his legs in the air, like an upturned beetle awaking from uneasy dreams to find itself transformed into a Tottenham centre-back.

Eventually the opportunity to fall over arrived. Werner took it. Jorginho tucked the kick away. And by half-time Spurs had played an entirely inert 45 minutes. For Chelsea this must have felt like dancing with a corpse.

What could Mourinho do to alter this? The full-backs started higher up the pitch. The players ran forward a little harder (as in: they actually ran forward). A little later than scheduled, something that looked like a game of football broke out. Spurs had chances, although they might also have gone further behind. In the end they got what they deserved: no goals, no attacking plan, and only that late trapped energy to prove there was life here at all.

Funken Thinks…

It probably does, though. At least for the next two seasons.

A week might seem a long time in politics, but it can be a damn sight longer when you’re a Spurs fan, all hopes and expectations of catching Liverpool off form ahead of avenging our previous disaster at Brighton suddenly seeming as if they belonged to a point in time several seasons ago.

Which, in reality, they probably did.

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The moment it all went wrong between Dele Alli and Jose Mourinho and how it must be fixed

By Alasdair Gold football.london

At first it seemed like Jose Mourinho and Dele Alli might be a match made in heaven.

The young England midfielder had struggled with a dip in form but was beginning to rediscover his way in front of goal in Mauricio Pochettino’s final weeks at Tottenham Hotspur.

Mourinho joked with him in his first training session at Hotspur Way, asking if he was talking to “Dele Alli or Dele Alli’s brother” as he had not seen the player in the past couple of seasons who had taken the Premier League by storm.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s one piece of advice to Mourinho while the Portuguese was Manchester United boss was to sign Alli, who the Scot saw as a generational talent.

Initially the Alli revival continued under the new boss, with the midfielder involved in eight goals in Mourinho’s first eight games, netting five times and providing three assists.

Then the goals began to dry up, with Mourinho also questioning the player’s “lazy” training in a one-to-one meeting with him, during a pre-match team meeting and in a chat with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy.

Those same cameras also showed Alli complaining about the football under Mourinho at half-time in the Champions League defeat at home to RB Leipzig.

“Come on boys, want the ball. Play. We’re just smashing it long and (swears) defending. We’re not going to win nothing like that,” he said in the dressing room.

Not long after that came the break in football and since that pause in the sport, Alli has started just one Premier League match.

That came against West Ham, having missed the first game back in June because of a one-match ban for an ill-advised airport video months before.

Then he suffered a muscle injury that wiped out his involvement until the final match of last season, as he came off the bench for 10 minutes at Crystal Palace.

In pre-season things were looking good with both Mourinho and Eric Dier claiming they could see the “old Dele Alli” and both were excited about what lay ahead.

Just two weeks later though came Spurs’ opening Premier League match against Everton.

Alli started the game but just 45 minutes in the 24-year-old was taken off and whatever happened between the player and Mourinho during that half-time break sparked the most awkward of wasted seasons.

The midfielder has not started a Premier League game since, playing just 29 more minutes in the English top flight and missing out on 13 matchday squads in the competition.

Even his starts in the cup competitions have been sporadic, with just five to his name in the 14 matches Spurs have played in the Europa League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.

Mourinho praised his professional display against non-league Marine in the FA Cup, having criticised him for an misplaced flick that eventually led to a Stoke goal in the Carabao Cup a fortnight before.

Then last week the Portuguese replied awkwardly when asked about Alli’s future at the club and whether he would leave.

“It’s not a question that I am comfortable to answer,” he said. “Of course I would know how to answer you.

“But I am not ready to answer, I am not ready to make public my vision of the situation. I am sorry about that but I’m not going to answer.”

Mourinho was willing to let Alli go and Spurs looked at a potential loan move, with PSG and Pochettino particularly interested.

A permanent deal was always unlikely with Tottenham not keen on letting a big player go, particularly in a financially stricken market when the young midfielder could simply reignite elsewhere and soon be worth double or triple any fee the club could receive this month.

The issue with a loan exit was that it would have required a replacement coming in, particularly with Giovani Lo Celso’s injury problems.

football.london understands Christian Eriksen’s representatives made contact with Tottenham but bringing in another foreign player to replace a homegrown one would have created even more issues for Mourinho to solve in his unbalanced squad.

Now the window looks set to close without a move for Alli and there will be pressure from many within the club for Mourinho and the player to find a compromise.

On Monday afternoon Alli ‘liked’ tweets with quotes from Paul Merson saying “Alli simply must play” and Harry Redknapp asking “Why not get Alli playing again? He was one of the best in the country!”.

He just wants to get out there and play football and current poor Spurs performances and just three wins in the past 11 Premier League games are weakening Mourinho’s position on not needing Alli in his plans.

Alli will be hungry. He has a point to prove and wants to force his way back into Gareth Southgate’s England plans ahead of the Euros.

Tottenham are struggling in the final third and have a midfielder who has been directly involved in 121 goals in 234 matches, scoring 64 and laying on 57 assists, gathering dust on the sidelines.

Mourinho has conceded ground over Tanguy Ndombele and Lo Celso already in his 14 months at Spurs.

He will be asked to do the same with Dele Alli and it could be a situation where if all sides can find a middle ground then all of them can come out as winners.

Jimmy The Spurs Fan, After Brighton Away Last Season…

Quadrophenia definition: 1: Medical Condition – the terror of missing out on top four.

There’s a whiff of deja vu in heading to Brighton following a soul-sapping mid-week home defeat, our 2-7 humbling at the hands of Bayern preceding last season’s jolly boys’ beano to the south coast of England, which was anything but jolly and probably prompted Levy to start flirting in earnest with Jose.

Continue reading “Jimmy The Spurs Fan, After Brighton Away Last Season…”

Is it Too Much to Expect More?

Earlier this week a video clip emerged from a recent Tottenham training session. In it, Tanguy Ndombele has the ball in a practice game. He feints to the left, then the right. Then he flicks the ball out of reach with a deft toe, leaving his hapless opponent – a certain Harry Kane – lunging awkwardly at thin air.

Look. Maybe it was pure coincidence that just a couple of days after having his ankles humiliatingly twisted by one of his own teammates, Kane limped off at half-time against Liverpool with an ankle injury. Who can say? In any case, the reason for bringing this up here is to underline the silken, indiscriminate talent of Ndombele, a player who – even in defeat – seems to hold the key to Tottenham’s future.Firmino and Mané rip Tottenham apart to reignite Liverpool’s title defenceRead more

“Some of them had a very positive performance, punished by individual mistakes,” said José Mourinho of his players afterwards. Of course, Toby Alderweireld hadn’t left himself on the bench. Matt Doherty hadn’t autonomously decided to station himself at left-back. But the thrust of his analysis was correct: this was a performance of light and shade, particularly from Tottenham’s midfield two, the restless Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and the ruthless Ndombele.

Ultimately, the difference between the two sides here was not in terms of possession but penetration. Tottenham actually attempted more passes than Liverpool (586 to 584), but significantly fewer into the final third (85 to 149) or the penalty area (5 to 18). There may be a lesson for Tottenham here, if only they are shrewd enough to learn it.

Højbjerg may be the lungs of this team, Kane and Son Heung-min the ticking heart. But Ndombele, their bewitching £60m midfielder, has been the soul, and was in supreme form here, despite being hounded by what seemed at times like half a dozen red shirts. It was he who began the move for Son’s early disallowed goal, and sending Thiago Alcântara for a Fanta and chips with an outrageous body feint.

The phrase often used to describe Ndombele is “press-resistant”: he picks up the ball in the most crowded area of the pitch and somehow manages to use it. In doing this, he has the full bag of tricks: deft technical skills, the strength to hold off challenges and the vision to get rid at the right moment. As we saw against Sheffield United and Wolves, he also has an unerring eye for goal. A more ambitious club, with a clear commitment to attacking possession football, would surely look to build a team around his unique technical gifts.

But this is Tottenham and, more pertinently, this is Mourinho’s Tottenham, a team whose reactive tendencies already seem hard-wired, even in situations where you would expect them to take the initiative. In recent weeks Fulham, Wolves, Crystal Palace and Stoke have all been allowed back into games that Spurs were comfortably leading. Whether this is by accident or by design is largely irrelevant: when a team is drilled to be fearful of an opponent’s threat, this is the approach to which they will default in times of stress. Often it manifests itself in the subtlest of tics: the defensive line that drops just a couple of yards, the ambitious through ball eschewed in favour of a safe sideways pass, the little cues that alert an opponent that the momentum is shifting.Mourinho’s firing of darts shows he believes Spurs can win the titleRead more

Now consider this from Ndombele’s perspective. Ideally you want him receiving the ball on the half-turn, attracting the opposition press but with enough space to manoeuvre and plenty of movement ahead of him. But Mourinho is famously resistant to “first-station” passes – short balls from defence into midfield – against good pressing teams. And so much of the possession Ndombele got here was poor possession: loose balls, 50-50 balls, facing his own goal in deep, useless positions. The point being that when he won the ball, Spurs were rarely in the sort of shape that would allow him to do anything with it.

Maybe this is why Mourinho’s tactical shift at half-time, switching from a 3-4-3 to a 4-2-3-1 to get Ndombele further up the pitch, worked so poorly. Harry Winks arrived to bolster midfield but with none of the structural issues addressed, this was simply a limp pretence at attacking football, the art of moving players around while still getting them to do largely the same things.

Partly this is a question of personnel. Mourinho isn’t wrong: Tottenham have serious problems that go beyond tactics. They need at least two defenders, another midfielder and a wide forward (and as heartwarming as it was, perhaps it’s fair to say Gareth Bale’s return isn’t really working out).

Even so, this is a squad of such rich attacking talents, a squad capable of playing articulate, thrilling, imaginative football. You just wish they showed it a little more often.

Jonothan Lieu: The Guardian.

Load of Nothing in Your Hand

A song with the title ‘Going Above Liverpool, Maybe’ doesn’t seem to have been written yet, so this one will have to do until Katrina & The Waves reform and start writing new music and The Bangles reform and put out a cover of it.

Given how hatefully consistent Liverpool have been these past few seasons, it seems crazy that they visit us so soon after Firmino’s header gave them a three point cushion over us at the top of the table, yet they’re now only a single point to the good having played a game more.

Even more so when you consider we’ve only taken eight points from the fifteen we could have had since that narrow Anfield reverse.

Continue reading “Load of Nothing in Your Hand”

Jose Mourinho hails Gareth Bale after goalscoring performance in FA Cup win at Wycombe Wanderers

The Independant

Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho heaped praise on Gareth Bale after the Welsh winger scored in Monday’s 4-1 victory at Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup fourth round.

Bale started for the first time since 23 December and netted the equaliser in first-half stoppage time after Fred Onyedinma had given the Championship side a shock lead.

Bale, 31, has struggled for form and fitness but looked sharp in completing his first 90 minutes since returning on loan from Real Madrid.

“He was good. Good movements, one against one, beating people, attacking, creating chances, scoring a goal,” Mourinho told reporters.

“I never felt he could not play 90 minutes, I never felt I needed to change him.”

Mourinho made 10 changes to the side that beat Sheffield United in their last game but brought on first-team regulars Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Tanguy Ndombele as they chased the win in the second half.

Harry Winks put Spurs ahead in the 86th minute before Ndombele struck twice to book their spot in the fifth round.

Mourinho said Spurs would not sacrifice the Europa League or cup competitions despite a crowded fixture schedule and were determined to compete in all competitions.

“Even when we had to play four matches in one week and people thought we were going to give away Europa League or Carabao Cup we didn’t,” Mourinho told BBC. “Today we brought the whole squad – only Hugo Lloris stayed at home.

“February we have to play three competitions with FA Cup and then Europa League. Of course it will be very hard but we have to try.”

Spurs are fifth in the Premier League with 33 points from 18 games and host champions Liverpool on Thursday.

The biggest mistake in Tottenham letting Dele Alli go and the truth about Jesse Lingard links

By Alasdair Gold, Football.London

With just ten days left of the January transfer window Dele Alli’s future at Tottenham Hotspur will continue to be the main topic of conversation.

The 24-year-old has gone from key man to bit-part player for Spurs under Jose Mourinho this season, ever since being taken off at half-time in the opening game against Everton.null

Alli had already lost his place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad and this season has played just 74 minutes of Premier League football.

His game time has mostly come in the Europa League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup this season, but his total is still just 472 minutes of action this season.

That’s the equivalent of just over five full matches of football and if this was any other player being spoken about, that lack of game time would suggest someone expendable.

Dele Alli is not such a player to Tottenham.

The young midfielder has been one of Europe’s brightest talents since his arrival as an 18-year-old in north London, outstripping the goalscoring achievements of the likes of Premier League legends Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes at the same age.

The past two and a half years though have brought a dip in form for Alli’s form on the whole though, not helped by a recurring hamstring problem.

Following the 2017/18 season, when he managed 14 goals and 17 assists in 50 matches, he netted seven goals and laid on eight assists in 38 games in the following campaign.

Last season brought another tough year, albeit with a purple patch towards the end of Mauricio Pochettino’s reign which carried briefly into Mourinho’s opening months. Alli managed nine goals and six assists in his 38 appearances in a Spurs shirt during the campaign.

This season so far has brought two goals and two assists in his 472 minutes, meaning a direct contribution to a goal every 118 minutes.

Alli has generally earned praise for the majority of his performances, Mourinho in particularly pointing towards his attitude and professionalism in the FA Cup tie at eighth-tier non-league side Marine.

However, he then left him unused on the bench in the next match against Fulham and removed him from the squad entirely for the trip to Sheffield United days later.

A Pochettino favourite, Alli has found his relationship with Mourinho to be a very different one to the paternal nature of his bond with the Argentine.

Mourinho’s very first training session at Spurs saw him ask whether he was talking to Dele Alli or “Dele Alli’s brother” due to the mixed performances the season had brought so far.

The new head coach was then shown in the Amazon All or Nothing series calling out the young midfielder for what he saw as laziness in training, bringing it up in a team meeting as well as in a one-to-one chat with the player in his office, and also while discussing the player with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.

The Portuguese also told Levy that Sir Alex Ferguson had only given him one bit of advice when he became Manchester United manager and that was to sign Alli.

Alli started all but one of the Premier League games under Mourinho until last season was paused by the pandemic. However, that hamstring problem returned, after his one-game suspension for that video, meant just one start in the final nine games after the break.

Once he recovered, in pre-season everyone was getting worked up about what Alli could produce this season.

“He’s got me excited with the way he played today,” Eric Dier said after a pre-season win against Reading. “I really enjoyed seeing the way he played, his energy and workrate, in and out of possession was fantastic. A great goal as well, so yeah, he excited me.”

He added: “Coming off a difficult season as a team and for individuals, I think that can help him. He’s got a lot to prove and I’m excited because of what I saw today first hand. It excites me to see that kind of Dele.

“He has fantastic quality and if he plays like he did today, he’ll be in a really good place.”

Mourinho weighed in with similar comments, saying: “”I am [excited] too. Everybody is. The ones who had the privilege to know the very good Dele, who arrived from MK Dons and conquered the Premier League. The ones who know that, that’s what we want.

“When I arrived by November or December he was really good. I think he created big expectations and he’s doing the same now. Hopefully he’s matured and he knows what he has to do to be the great Dele Alli that we all love.”

Just over two weeks later and it had all gone wrong. Hauled off at half-time and replaced by Moussa Sissoko with the game goalless against Everton, Spurs went on to lose the game 1-0 and Alli would only appear in one more Premier League matchday squad over the next two months and has only played 39 minutes of football in the English top flight since.

He also found himself criticised by Mourinho last month for a misplaced flick in the Carabao Cup quarter-final against Stoke, which eventually led a break which culminated in the Championship side scoring.

His absence has come at a time when Spurs have struggled for goals from midfield in the Premier League, with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min having to take the bulk of the responsibility on their shoulders up front.

The duo have netted 12 goals apiece in the league, Tanguy Ndombele has scored three times while Giovani Lo Celso, Gareth Bale and Lucas Moura have scored just one each. Defenders Toby Alderweireld and Serge Aurier have contributed Spurs’ only other goals in the Premier League this season.

It’s hard to argue that Alli, with his ability to score or create goals even during his dip in form, would not have added to Tottenham’s goal tally during this campaign.

Football.london understands there are many within Tottenham who do not want to see Alli leave the club permanently as they feel he just needs to get his confidence back to return to former glories.

Mourinho has previously been undecided about Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso yet both have gone on to prove their worth for him, albeit the latter has struggled with injuries in recent months.

Ndombele in particular, was barely playing under Mourinho last season and looked to be heading out of the club only for Spurs to put their foot down and snuff out any chance of a departure.

The Frenchman responded by jumping through all of Mourinho’s hoops and now is showing exactly what Spurs paid a club record fee for 18 months ago.

Steven Bergwijn is another who, by the head coach’s own admission, was not Mourinho’s first choice option in the last January transfer window but has gone on to become a trusted player under the Portuguese.

There is a hope that Alli could do similar to Ndombele and fight his way back into Mourinho’s plans.

A loan move for him to rediscover his mojo has been discussed but there is also a concern that, particularly with Lo Celso’s current hamstring injury, Alli is only an injury to someone else away from being needed and potentially playing his way back into form and favour.

From a business point of view, it also makes little sense to sell a player in a market where his value would be low and could rise significantly within months after any move if he rediscovers his confidence.

While Mourinho has indicated his hope to remain at Tottenham for a long time, his management career has thus far seen him only spent at the most three years at a club, for one reason or another.

That leaves Spurs with the decision of potentially selling one of their big players after falling out of favour with a manager who might not be at the club in 18 months or so if history were to repeat itself again.

An Alli exit is further complicated by Tottenham’s problems of having too many foreign players in their squad and to lose a British player and replace him with an arrival from abroad would only add to the chaos.

There have been links with Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard as a British player to replace Alli, but football.london understands that, as was the case in the summer when similar reports emerged, Spurs are not currently looking to make a move for 28-year-old.

As the days pass and the end of the transfer window grows closer so the likelihood of an Alli exit decreases.

Tottenham will be hoping that if the talented midfielder does remain in N17 for the remainder of the season then he can follow in the footsteps of Ndombele on the path back into Mourinho’s affection.

“To me it’s always the same: the door is always open, but the player cannot expect for me to go and bring him,” said the Spurs head coach about Ndombele on Sunday, with words that seemed to not only be aimed at the Frenchman.

“It has to be for the player to walk through that door, and come in the direction of what the team needs from him.”

Many at Spurs and his team-mates hope that Alli walks through that door.

Put Those Blades Away!

It’s starting to feel as if rather than bother to write a bloeug today I could just cut and paste major parts of bloeugs written after points were dropped late against Newcastle, West Ham, Palace, Liverpool and Wolves, though this latest stumble against Fulham felt more like the West Ham game than the others, in that we could well have been three goals to the good early on and still wouldn’t have looked completely in control of our own fate.

Continue reading “Put Those Blades Away!”

De Ja Vu

All rather predictable

Tottenham Hotspur fans could have at least earned some money to balance their frustration had they placed a bet on the incredibly predictable outcome of their club’s latest match.

As Jose Mourinho’s men failed to build on their first half lead on Wednesday night, with Fulham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola pulling off a couple of reflex saves and Son Heung-min hitting the right-hand post, this result was only heading in one direction.

Tottenham’s defence would eventually flick off the concentration switch, as they have done on numerous occasions this season.

Only Brighton and Sheffield United have dropped more points from winning positions, 12 and 11 respectively, than Spurs, with 10, in the Premier League this season.

Mourinho’s teams are known for being able to fall back upon their solid defences, safe in the knowledge that even if they aren’t firing up front so they can rely on the backline to hold firm at the other end.

This Mourinho team cannot do that. The only surprise about Ivan Cavaleiro’s 74th minute goal was that it came from open play.

Spurs have only conceded four goals from open play in their 17 Premier League games, the other 12 coming from set pieces.

Tottenham still have the joint second best defensive record in the English top flight but much of that has come from the defensive set-up employed by Mourinho to protect the defence.

Once the backline has been exposed to danger it has struggled, set pieces proving that point in particular.

Against Fulham, Mourinho would have been left shaking his head as Serge Aurier was caught out of position, Davinson Sanchez turned too easily and Eric Dier out-jumped as if he wasn’t there.

There was a certain irony in the fact that Mourinho filled his team with central midfielders, four of them taking to the pitch or five if you count the former man in the middle Dier, yet Spurs looked more open than ever.

Sergio Reguilon and Aurier were unshackled somewhat in the system and meant to provide the width, but also left plenty of space in behind them, particularly down the Ivorian’s flank.

Hugo Lloris only made a couple of saves but much of that was to do with the visitors not having real firepower up front in the absence of Aleksandar Mitrovic. A team with more attacking threat would have gratefully accepted Tottenham’s open and giving nature.

“I understand that in the first half we had chances to kill the game,” said Mourinho.

“Some of them are Areola’s responsibility. In the second half we had the biggest chance to kill the game but when you don’t do it you cannot concede goals the way we did do it.

“This is the same story basically since the beginning of the season. We can talk about not killing the game yes, we can speak about that, and today was a clear situation where we could and should have killed the game in the first half but then you go back to the goals that we concede and it’s not also easy to assimilate that.”

Mourinho must be bored of saying the same things and the fans are growing tired of hearing them.

Mourinho and the fans

The relationship between Jose Mourinho and Tottenham Hotspur fans will likely always be a fragile and turbulent one.

Some will never forget that he managed their London rivals across two spells and some of the things he said. Some don’t like the way his teams play football. Some don’t like the way he acts or speaks.

Others simply see a winner who knows what has to be done and can bring a silverware-starved club what it has craved for far too long.

When Spurs are winning games and Mourinho is coming out with zinging one liners in his press conferences, the reservations about him can be ushered into a dark corner.

When Tottenham stutter and stumble and bore, so those grievances come out to play.

You can’t help but wonder what 62,000 fans inside the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium would have made of some of the home matches this season.

On one side the players might well have been more inspired by the roar of the crowd, not least that south stand, and pushed on in their efforts.

Spurs won both matches 2-0 in front of just 2,000 supporters last month before fans were locked out again, so you can only imagine how they might have performed with 30 times that number behind them.

However, there would have also been 62,000 groans and sounds of frustrations at some of the football on offer, likely boos at some of the halves of football.

On Wednesday night the fans would have witnessed their team share almost the same amount of possession and have the same amount of shots on goal as a promoted team in the bottom three of the Premier League.

“Not good enough, but good enough to win,” the Spurs boss told football.london afterwards.

“Not good enough because I think we have to play better in a more consistent way, but good enough to create four or five big chances, good enough to give Hugo in a very quiet evening.

“Good enough to win the game but not good enough because we have to play better than we did.”

He’s right of course, in that had Tottenham taken some of their chances they could have had the game won by half-time.

They didn’t though and the blame must fall somewhere between Mourinho and the players.

The players were all fresh and should have had no tiredness. Only Sissoko started on Sunday at Marine and he played just 45 minutes that day.

Yet they huffed and puffed and struggled to impose their game on Fulham, with Scott Parker letting everyone know that his team only had 48 hours to prepare for the match.

On Mourinho’s part he put out a team lacking inspiration and creativity, with too much pressure placed on Tanguy Ndombele to create and just two players able to finish in Kane and Son.

All of which brings us to the bench.

Dele, Bale and the wasted bench

Look at Tottenham’s bench on Wednesday night and you have to wonder what’s going on.

Gareth Bale, a player Tottenham have been desperate to bring back to the club for years and a four-time Champions League winner, left unused.

Dele Alli, a player who has scored goals from midfield at a rate that outstripped the likes of Lampard, Gerrard and Scholes, left unused.

Even Lucas Moura, a man known for his ability to bag a late goal on the biggest of stages, left unused.

On the night, Mourinho brought on just two substitutes, Erik Lamela and Carlos Vinicius. Lamela made a slight impact, Vinicius barely touched the ball.

Right now, the Bale deal is looking like an utter dud. More than £200,000 a week spent on a player who either doesn’t trust himself to fully let loose on the pitch or doesn’t have the trust of Mourinho to do so.

That the Portuguese choose to play Moussa Sissoko as a right winger ahead of Bale and then brought on two other players instead of the man long heralded as one of the world’s best players is not a good look and makes a mockery of a transfer deal his chairman Daniel Levy longed for ever since the Welshman left for Madrid in 2013.

Bale could yet come good, if the 31-year-old can restore some confidence in his body and get a run of games under his belt. Against Fulham, he didn’t even warm up down the touchline until the latter stages of the game.

Spurs have an option for a second season of the Bale loan, having expected him to take some time to get back to full speed following a season marked by injury and inaction, but now back from his most recent injury he needs to start showing what a man at the top of the earnings ladder at the club should be.

As for Dele, the 24-year-old posted a caption-less image on his Instagram Story on the journey back from the match, looking simply bored and frustrated, with his hand on his face.

Mourinho’s lack of game time for the young midfielder can be explained away when things are going well for Spurs.

When he’s left unused once again in a game like this, when Spurs needed to create more chances and they needed to put them away, it raises questions over his Premier League exile, especially after being praised for his attitude and professionalism just days earlier in the FA Cup match at Marine.

Dele Alli makes goals happen. Even last season, when his form was questioned, he scored eight goals and laid on four assists in the Premier League, meaning a direction involvement in 12 goals in 25 matches.

Spurs are reluctant to let him leave permanently because all he needs is to find his mojo again and a player who might not fetch a big price now could be worth mega money again within a year.

Right now Kane and Son need help. Kane’s headed goal from Reguilon’s perfect cross was from the top drawer and it was his 25th headed Premier League goal, making him just the third player to score 25 or more goals with his left foot, right foot and head, netting 34, 94 and 25 respectively in the English top flight.

Son had an off day in front of goal, a rarity in a clinical season for him but it shows that if the duo are not firing then neither are Tottenham.

Kane’s goal meant the pair have now scored 23 of Tottenham’s 30 goals in the Premier League this term.

A two-man team is better than a one-man one but Spurs cannot afford to be so reliant on them.

Others need to step up and help out, but they have to be given the chance to do so first.

Mourinho’s message to Levy

Jose Mourinho has made it very clear that he does not expect Tottenham to make any signings during the transfer window.

That’s not because he doesn’t want them but because he doesn’t “feel the right to ask for something” after the club’s efforts during the summer in bringing in seven players amid a financial mess of a year.

“One thing is to analyse, which of course I do, one thing is to analyse and commit to that analyse and to write a report and be committed to that report, which of course of which I did as I have to be professional,” he said this month.

“Another thing is to demand something which I never do. Another thing is to ask for and I’m not going to ask for anything because I respect the effort the club makes.”

However, when asked what he would say to his defenders after another poorly conceded goal on Wednesday night, Mourinho’s frustrations with the ability of some members of his backline shone through in what seemed like a message to Levy and the powers that be.

“I think there are things that have to be with the characteristics of players. There are things that are difficult too,” he said.

“There are some things they have to do with organisation of the team, but other things they have to do with individual skills, individual ability, and its as simple as that.”

The problem for Mourinho is that finances for transfers have not improved. Clubs still have no idea when they might get fans back in stadiums, and with them the accompanying gate receipts, food and drink and merchandise sales. Tottenham are losing millions as their state-of-the-art home remains empty.

They are not alone in a transfer window that is expected to be a quiet one for most of the Premier League clubs, particularly for many of those in the top half of the table.

Spurs are furthered hampered by their problems with foreign players and their squad size.

Their Europa League squad is bloated, with Paulo Gazzaniga, Gedson Fernandes and Joe Rodon outside of the 17 non-locally trained players already registered in the 25-man squad.

In the Premier League, Rodon took up the final spot in the 25-man squad when he joined from Swansea. Just to get the Welshman into the Europa League squad for the knockout stages, Mourinho would have to leave out someone else other than than Gedson and Gazzaniga.

Whether they are homegrown or foreign, ultimately a Premier League club can only have 25 players in their squad, although they can have as many U21 players as they like in a separate list. In the Europa League, any young player needs to have been at the club for two years to get on a similar bonus list.

So for Tottenham to bring anyone in, they would need to move someone on.

Gedson has been linked with a return to Benfica, but cutting his loan short changes nothing really for Spurs, with the young Portuguese outside the Europa League squad and on that separate U21 list in the Premier League squad. His exit would not affect the main squad numbers in either competition.

Tottenham need to sell non-vital squad players at a time when nobody is looking to spend decent sums of money.

Selling while values are low is also not the best way to operate from a business point of view and most clubs are only looking at loan deals.

football.london understands that unless something unexpected happens, this window is set to be one of simply moving out players on loan, such as Jack Clarke’s imminent move to Stoke City.

Links with Real Madrid defender Eder Militao, who turns 23 this week, are wide of the mark for all of the above reasons, a good player but also not believed to be near the top of Tottenham’s list of targets should money or squad places magically free up.

The situation makes it difficult to move for someone like RB Leipzig’s Marcel Sabitzer.

The versatile 26-year-old Austrian is a player Spurs like but, on top of the other restrictions in their ability to sign players, it makes more financial sense to go for Sabitzer in the summer window when he hits the final years of his contract, similar to how they moved for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg last year.

Mourinho’s only slim hope of bringing in a new face in the next fortnight or so would be if someone came in with an offer for a squad player that was just too tempting to turn down.

In that scenario Spurs would move for a like-for-like replacement, but clubs are not queuing up for the players Mourinho would allow to leave.

For now Mourinho must work with the squad he has, one with plenty of depth after the summer transfer work done, and then look to further refine it in the summer when the income in football may have returned to something nearer its previous norm.

Mourinho praised the squad and the tools he was provided with following the summer business. Now he needs to work out how to get the best out of it and that might just involve trusting more of the players within it.