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More conclusions from Spurs
– At what point does the legend of Jose Mourinho go from ‘one of the best’ to ‘too negative’? The Mourinho special used to be never, ever, ever losing after taking the lead. The Mourinho special of the last 5 years is ‘take the lead, get overly negative, lose the lead’.
– The legend of ‘lad’s, it’s Tottenham’ is probably over-egged at this point, but Ole deserves supreme credit for the second best halftime away at Spurs team talk. For 45 minutes, United largely looked pleased to join Spurs in the battle of who could show less ambition, but that second half was as good as anything put together by Ole’s United.
– It’s uncouth to be so petulant, but I must ask which Spurs player suffered more this season – poor Son or poor Lamela. Given the way each of them hit the turf, screamed, rolled around and succeeded in conning officials, one must assume the combined time on the sidelines from their grievous facial injuries must be significant. Oh. They were both fine 30 seconds later? I’d say it’s embarrassing, but it works.
– It’s difficult to tell which was more astonishing, that Fred scored a goal or that he completed 3 consecutive passes leading up to it.
– For about 3 months the press couldn’t shut up about how shambolic United’s decision to scoff at Reguilon’s contract clause was. For about 90 minutes, Luke Shaw showed it couldn’t matter less.
– Cavani is past his best, kind of inconsistant and yet the closest thing to the calibre of centre forward United have been used to in years. The movement, the touches, the awareness – it can’t be this hard to find a 20-something player with that fancy scouting system.
– Speaking of which, Harry Kane missed his chance imo. I’ll always wonder – and suspect he will too – of what his career could have been if he’d left at 25 to a genuinely top-level club. He is an elite footballer, and kind of deserved better. I’d love him to go to Italy, and replace Ronaldo at Juve. Given Romelu ‘can only score against mediocre prem teams’ Lukaku is tearing it up, imagine what Kane could do. Probably extend his career five seasons too.
– For me, United remain an enigma. Consistently inconistent, incapable of both playing to their potential but also knowing when they’re beaten. I’m not sure any team will ever post more points from losing positions in a single season. The hardest bit is knowing what that portends for next season.
– Spurs less so. The only question is if Levy will do the right thing, and let this very talented group of players rediscover the joys of playing football.
… Oh, Sissoko on immediately after conceding.
I win Jose bingo.
Jon (too indifferent now to emote), Lincoln
Where next for Jose?
Another huge game for Spurs, another defeat under Jose Mourinho, usually i stay away from talking about rival clubs because at the end of the day i do not follow them as closely as my own club, however with Jose Mourinho being arguably our greatest manager of all time, i must pay attention to the man and the manager he is in 2021 compared to the “Special One” that turned up at Stamford Bridge after guiding FC Porto to an unlikely Champions League crown.
The once great manager certainly has changed since his early years, but what has brought about this change, however after his recent tenures at Chelsea (that third season), Man Utd and of course now Spurs, I wonder what is next for the once serial winner of silverware, a return to Italy, perhaps a completely fresh league such as a side in France or Germany or maybe the Portugal national team, would be curious to hear what other readers and writers of the Mailbox think Jose Mourinho’s next move should be within football management.
…I have been a proponent of Jose until the final whistle of this game. So, for basically the entire length of his Tottenham tenure, I had faith in him. It was today that broke my hope, not any other games, not even the Zagreb defeat. That was a different tale.
In this game, Spurs looked scared, and somewhat aware that they will lose anyway despite having scored first (and brilliantly too, not by some lucky deflection). In the games against weaker oppositions, the players seemed annoyed by the loss/draw. But in this game, they looked like they were self-aware of being the weaker team, and that it was inevitable that they would concede and lose. I’ve seen Spurs annoyed/disinterested plenty times this season, but I believe this is the first time I’ve seen them afraid. And that just killed the hope within me that I had for this season.
But please don’t start with “Jose is behind his time…” and “tactically inept”, etc. He isn’t. As I’ve recently listened to in one podcast, Jose did have Lampard and Drogba and Cech run through walls for him. Problem is, I think these types of profiles are rarer and getting ever rarer in younger generations. Kane and Son and Lloris are definitely running through walls for him, and quite unexpectedly, Ndombele to a degree! Didn’t seem to be that type of a character, but he was one from the beginning. But who else? Hoijberg, Lo Celso, and can’t think of much else. Lamela and Lucas don’t count because they would always have that run-through-walls attitude regardless of who the manager is (and perhaps to their failings).
Jose-ball might have worked if the board had recruited a few more such profiles in the summer and got rid of the deadwood. To those who say Jose don’t improve players individually, I don’t think any other coach could have pushed Kane and Son to the new, unexpected levels of this season. But obviously, attaining super-human footballing skills requires one being able to withstand the equivalent amount of mind games from Mourinho. Lloris, Kane, Son, Hoijberg, Ndombele, Lo Celso seem to be fine dealing with the “confrontational leadership,” but who else? Football is played by 11 men. And a bench of at least 6-7 substitutes who are ready to help the team. Jose ain’t got even half of the number required.
Maybe when Jose took the Tottenham job, he saw that this squad had more people who will stick up with his leadership than the Man Utd squad he had. I think it was true, and those who made it through the mental initiations, did leap to a higher level from what they had achieved under Poch. Obviously, Jose was promised that Levy would fund him and eventually put together around 17 men who have the right mental profile for his game. I don’t think Levy was lying (Mourinho wouldn’t have signed if he was told there will be no new toys) but COVID put an end to that possibility. Just Hoijberg, and no more. (Carlos Vinicius should probably count towards that because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a striker keep his form without regular game-time and knowing that he will always be second choice. Amazing mentality he’s got, more like a centre-back’s resilience than a traditional striker’s mindset.) Bergwijn wasn’t Jose’s first choice and indeed he doesn’t seem to have the crazy psychological tolerance. More and more people who won’t, or can’t, stand Mourinho’s leadership style, accumulate in the team, and without getting rid of those who were already there. (Rose is still a Tottenham player, for a reminder.) I’m guessing this is what Lloris was talking about, about wearing the badge and fighting for the sake of the badge and about how the squad is split on this philosophy.
So in one sentence, I don’t think this is Jose’s fault, Levy’s fault, nor the players’ fault. No one could have foreseen funds drying up due to a pandemic. I don’t think Levy brought Jose — his real dream signing — just to see him gradually fail. He was committed to making this work but the cash just dried up. And the players, naturally, not all of them are good matches for Mourinho’s confrontational leadership, and that’s not their fault. Some just are, some just aren’t. The ones who didn’t want to be there should have been shifted out ASAP, and replaced with ones who want to be there — those knowing that they are signing up for the crazy emotional roller-coaster of Jose, know that they will survive it, and know that it will improve them as players/individuals. Fergie’s success was backed by his ability to move players on, and scout/bring in mentality monsters who will bear through his game. Recruitment in modern football is complex enough but throw in the pandemic too, I don’t know Jose will ever get the chance to build a mentality-based squad like he once had in Chelsea.
With today’s game, I think I’ve seen the end of this mentality experiment. Maybe not all, but at least half the players seem to be afraid and Man Utd players were able to smell it today. No chance Man City players won’t sniff it two weeks later. But I want to accentuate, this can’t be pinned on one person’s fault, or the collective squad’s fault. Just the plain old case of wrong people being together at the wrong place at the wrong time. Which is more often the case in this modern society, not just at football clubs but in most workplaces of all industries. In any case, I don’t think a return is possible from this point on. Au revoir, Jose. Au revoir.
Jaehee H., from Seoul
…Great result last night and thoroughly deserved against an empty Spurs team. I have a soft spot for Spurs due to family allegiances, Hummel kits and some great players when I was first discovering football in the 80’s.
Unfortunately they have been “Jose’d” which is a shame.
I know F365 writers have a view on the Cavani situation but I really hope he does stay for another season. I am not so sure it will be emblematic of a bad transfer policy as such and we should just enjoy and maximise the talent of a top quality number 9. His work rate and ethic is outstanding and we know how lethal he is given half chances or good chances that deserve to be buried. He rarely lets you down.
From the reliable to the reliably ridiculous VAR…… don’t worry I won’t dissect the incident as there really is no point but it did get me thinking about VAR a little more last night.
We are all waiting and anticipating for the Stockley Park crowd to start making the right calls at some point are we not? Nobody thought that was a foul apart from Stockley Park and Jose. But are we not basing our expectations against the old style football that we used to watch and enjoy. The style of football where physical contact was a part of the game and encouraged to gain real and psychological advantage over opponents? I am not harking for the days of 70’s pitches and on field assaults but physicality has always been a part of football.
What if Stockley Park are actually making the correct decisions and the brush on Son’s face is in fact a foul in the new football we are watching? What if VAR is being used to usher in a new game where physical contact will not be allowed and we will all accept it in 10 years time?
Maybe I should lay off the Adam Curtis documentaries but hopefully you get the point.
Plato – MUFC
I think the real problem with VAR is the mindset of the refs. It’s become almost like a drug for them, compulsively trying to check absolutely every frame and angle and confusing absolutely everybody from the players and the coaches, to the pundits, media and fans with an interminable process that ends up with getting the decision completely wrong anyway.This mindset is behind the absolute rubbishing of the offside rule and the disallowed goal in the Spurs v United game is another perfect example.
Anybody arguing that the refs got it right, watch the build up to United’s 3rd goal again. As he goes past Dier, Pogba clearly does a similar hand-off to McTominay’s “foul” on Son in the first half. Pogba’s hand-off clearly obstructs the defender and stops him from making a proper challenge. Since neither contact with the head / face nor the player going down are determinative of whether a foul has been committed and since Pogba’s hand off was equally not “part of his natural running motion” how was the Greenwood goal allowed to stand while Cavani’s wasn’t?
Afolabi (Abuja, Nigeria)
…Before anyone tries to defend chalking out Manchester United’s goal in first half against Tottenham, they should take a look at West Brom’s early goal against United (which didn’t even make it to the pitch side monitor). There is nothing that VAR or any other system can do about it, because Premier League refs are clearly not up to mark.
Let’s knock the ‘Son’s a nice guy’ narrative on the head. He’s as bad as the rest of them.
Jose and the truth
Paul (Spurs), T.Wells say’s that he wants the truth You can’t handle the truth! Son we live in a world that has goals, and those goals have to be guarded by men with skills. Who’s gonna do it you? Eric Dier? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom.
You weep for Alderweireld and you curse the Spurs. You have the luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that Alderweireld’s omission while tragic, probably saved goals; and my existence while grotesque, and incomprehensible, to you, saves goals.
You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me to put nine men behind the ball, you need me to put nine men behind the ball!
We use words like honour, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending 1-0 leads, you use them as a punchline. I have neither the time, nor the inclination to explain himself, to a man who rises and sleeps, under the blanket of the entertainments that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide them! I’d rather you just said ‘thank you’, and went on your way.
Otherwise I suggest you pick up some boots, and stand at the far post. Either way, I don’t give a damn, what you think you are entitled to!
J. Mourinho. London
Sky and Spurs
Erik Lamela was sent off for exactly the same action as McTominay against Arsenal yet the pundits saw the decision to award a foul as some kind of war crime. Cavani punches Rodon and gets a yellow card. Terrific. Glossed over by everyone.
Just wondering when Sky sports install Sol Campbell as the Spurs rep on our matches. Jamie Redknapp was diabolical for us and we sacked his dad, not sure it could be much worse tbh. Gary Neville as commentator today, but we normally have Arsenal legend Alan Smith who has probably whined on about Spurs in commentary more than the 264 times he played for Arsenal.
Love, hugs and kisses.
Dave (another fantastic half-time team talk JM), Winchester Spurs
Time to import refs?
The Premier League has become the behemoth it is today by embracing multiculturalism. Players, managers, coaches, physios, scouts, analysts, sporting directors from every corner of the globe make up the glorious melting pot that we all love.
The seemingly only exception to this diversity is the group of Englishmen that make up the referees and match officials. I can’t condone referee abuse, I believe the match officials in the Spurs v United game deserve sympathy, because if they watched the Son incident and decided it was a foul then they are completely and utterly out of their depth. Having watched VAR being used in the Champions League compared to the Premier League, the difference is night and day in terms of sensible application.
There is so much money in the Premier League that I can’t understand why the clubs don’t put some money together and bring in the best referees from overseas and ref the games correctly (I suspect it’s a union issue otherwise why not?). Instead we are destined to soldier on with the same group of men making inconsistent, terrible decisions with no explanation or any responsibility taken for mistakes getting constantly abused for doing a job they are incapable of doing correctly.
Isn’t it ironic?
Some thoughts on this weekends games. There were several ironies this week. Trezeguet’s late game injury as a wonderful James Cagney cameo (who always seemed to roll about forever in dying scenes) actually rolling back into the pitch to stop the game and waste time – only for Liverpool to go ahead with little time for Villa to get a winner. Followed by Rashfords feigning being shot in the face and falling to the deck after the barest of brushes only to see Utd’s goal chalked off after McTominey smacked Son in the face. A soft foul but unfortunately still a foul.
The ease with which players go to ground. Villa’s McGinn trying it at both ends of the pitch as did Hojbjerg. In the case of Hojbjerg, it was usually an attempt at giving Spurs a breather when being pressed hard by Utd. It seems Spurs have a penchant for getting niggly these days – ever since Mourinho said they were too nice. It is so expected players will go to ground, occasionally staying up might be enough of a surprise to the defence.
I saw a stat that showed Spurs would be second in a table if based on first half performances alone. An indictment on Mourinho’s tactics if ever I saw one. The idea that a team can score an early goal, give the opposition the ball (to make more mistakes) and hold out or possibly get a counter attack goal. It hasn’t worked well all season. It worked when Mourinho came up with this approach in the early naughties because teams weren’t coached to retain and use the ball as well as they are today. Plus, his team don’t handle being pressed well. All in all, looks great on Mourinho after his different teams, same manager call.
VAR and the former referees defending poor decisions. They don’t have to do that anymore – now they are ‘ex’ and being paid to comment. But clearly in their DNA. The Firminho goal chalked off by VAR is a joke. Really, even after minutes of taking lines and drawing perpendicular lines to those lines and trying to match up to a specific part of a players anatomy it was crystal clear that it wasn’t clear. Deep shadows would make it difficult to determine the exactness of a ball leaving the foot of the passer being used to determine when to draw the offside line, the thickness of the lines etc. Listening to Riley defend the decision was saddening and frustrating. No point on them commenting if it is always to defend every decision. Mind you, having ex-players who don’t understand the rules (laws) and spouting incorrect twaddle is equally galling. Either way, THAT VAR decision will definitely be another knock against it – and the refs in Stockley Park.
For those saying these things even out over a season, it should mean a net of zero after all decisions are compared. A VAR tracking table shows Liverpool on the end of 16 VAR overturns in which they are -6 goals as a result – equal bottom with West Brom. Burnley are tops at +5, with City, Chelsea and Everton on +3. Liverpool are at 9 goal disadvantage to key competitors. Not sure that would be close to ‘even.’
Forget Kane and Haaland
Everyone keeps going on about whether man utd should go for Kane or Haaland but I say go for neither. The price for 28 year old Kane is unrealistic and Haaland’s agent is not the most subtle. I think Jimenez will fit man utd well, he is not that fast but I reckon he is faster than Kane and has shown in a counter-attacking wolves side just what he can contribute on the transition. He is also only one year older than Kane and though he has been mostly out this season due to that thing terrible head injury, the season before that, he contributed 27 goals and 10 assists and as Diogo Jota has shown, his skills may come to the fore in a team that spends more of the game in the opponents third of the pitch. There is also Luis Muriel, another 29 year old who has so far contributed 22 goals and 9 assists in 38 matches but I reckon Raul Jimenez will do a better job as he already has considerable PL experience and Mason Greenwood could also learn a lot from him.
…Nice try Johnny!!! Clearly from your chosen moniker, you’re one these West Ham fans who’s so deluded you’d rather mock a talented player for simply having a common speech impediment than recognise reality.
Kane is indeed level with Salah for goals this season – and the reason isn’t because Spurs play defensive football. It’s a. Because he’s played 2 less games; and b. Because he also has 10 more assists and leads the PL in that stat too currently!!! I don’t recall any of the names you mentioned: Aguero, Suarez etc achieving the particular feat of leading both major attacking stats charts at the same time!!! So just maybe, Kane is rather special and unique as a forward after all!!!
Paul (Spurs), T.Wells
West Ham the real deal
Watching West Ham matches this season has not been easy for the faint hearted. Starting with the game where Tottenham were leading by three goals, they managed to score three in the last ten minutes to snatch a point. Their last three games have been breathless. Racing into 3 nil leads only to endure crazy last ten minutes! Being involved in 16 goals in three matches is the stuff thrillers are made of. Today Leicester only woke up from their stupor with 20 minutes to go. Had they been clinical, they would have snatched a point from West Ham or won it!More of the the same please.
Carey (which Arsenal will turn up against Sheffield today?) Yiembe