A new season means lots of things. New players, new managers, new tactics, still no fans for a bit at least but okay. It also means new features, such as this one where each week we’ll celebrate the biggest prick of the previous seven days. It’s subtle.
When we first touted the idea to F365’s benign dictator Winty, she agreed on condition that it never be about VAR and not always about Mourinho – because it’s too obvious – or West Ham, because frankly they’ve suffered enough.
We absolutely promise to keep this place a VAR-free zone, and will try not to inflict any further misery on West Ham because it is just cruel now, but let’s be honest we’ve got to get Mourinho out of the way because otherwise he’s just going to be a big grumpy elephant in the room until we do. We’re operating a strict policy that once someone or something has been inducted into the Prick of the Week hall of fame they cannot be nominated again, so at least it’ll be over with. Let’s aim our nuance-free shotgun at this barrel-dwelling fish.
So who’s this week’s prick then?
It is of course the miserabilist Kevin Costner Tiger King of White Hart Lane, Jose Exotic himself, Mr Jose Mourinho.
What’s he done?
Started playing all the hits just one game into the season. A genuinely miserable performance against an Everton side who appear to have spent the summer buying three midfielders who would absolutely walk into Tottenham’s side was followed by a classic piece of Jose blame-avoidance in which he chucked every single one of his players under the bus he had just tried and failed to park. At home. Against Everton.
“What happened after the goal with them having more chances is a consequence of conceding the goal and not such good fitness condition from some players,” he Josed after the game. “We were lazy in our pressing. That is a consequence of bad fitness, bad pre-season. Some players didn’t even have a pre-season. Some players had a wrong state of mind. It was too easy for them to play from back to front.”
The problem with Mourinho going so big so early with this schtick is that it’s only going to get worse given Tottenham’s admittedly mental Europa League-fuelled fixture list and the extreme likelihood, nay certainty, of further shonky results. We’re calling it now: Mourinho is going to spend every single week of the season moaning about the Europa League, and then win it. We’re already absolutely furious about it.
Spurs, it should be noted, are only even in the Europa League because of an admittedly excellent run of form in the last nine games of Project Restart. It’s already apparent that those couple of months, when Spurs picked up pretty much as many points as anyone, were hugely flattering to both the team and the manager. My theory is that we’ll look back and realise that the standard of football during those couple of months was, for very understandable reasons, just about the lowest seen in the Premier League for years.
What Mourinho had cleverly done was have Spurs already operating at the absolute floor of their ability given the players available; it was literally impossible for them to be worse when the action resumed, placing them at an immediate advantage.
That quirk is now gone. Spurs are still on the ground floor, with even Everton now apparently several floors above them.
None of this, apparently, is the fault of one Jose Mourinho.
Hahaha hahahaha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Yeah, a bit.
That fixture list is also a prick to be fair, but – like Jose – it was always going to be.
So what happens next?
It pretty much already has, if the frankly astonishing overnight reports are true. Daniel Levy, like a devoted but exhausted parent, has attempted to buy if not his recalcitrant toddler’s love then at least a bit of peace and quiet by getting him a couple of very expensive new toys.
The return of Gareth Bale would obviously be a spectacular coup, whatever legitimate concerns may linger over the form, fitness and motivation of the 31-year-old golfer, but the proposed permanent signing of left-back Sergio Reguilon is also quite something. It’s a pair of arrivals that transforms a stale Spurs squad, but also suddenly leaves it absolutely ideally equipped to play a 3-4-3. Can a man who still considers himself the best coach in the world adapt to that?
First, though, Spurs face the first of potentially three Europa League qualifying jaunts in games that not even BT can be bothered to show. However unlikely it may be, the reality must be faced that the very Spursiest of all possible weeks – signing two players from Real Madrid and then getting knocked out of Europe by Lokomotiv Plovdiv – is a thing that could now happen. Mourinho’s reaction to such an occurrence might force us to immediately abandon the defining ‘one and done’ policy of this column.
The entire concept of West Ham United Football Club from top to bottom, this tweet and Michael Owen’s pluralisation.
Bright start to the season by some of the Golden Boot contenders. The Salah’s, Kane’s, Vardy’s, Aubameyang’s and Aguero’s speak for themselves but I’ve got a sneaky feeling Gabriel Jesus could join that elite group this season and he’s a huge price to win it.
— michael owen (@themichaelowen) September 13, 2020