Wednesday 22 January 2020

Roy Curtis: 'Latter day Mourinho has looked a spent, sullen force. Devoid of wit or sunshine on and off the pitch'

Jose Mourinho has struggled since taking over as Tottenham Hotspur manager last November (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Jose Mourinho has struggled since taking over as Tottenham Hotspur manager last November (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Roy Curtis

Jose Mourinho's joyless world view retains value only as an ancient historical manuscript, a philisophical Dead Sea Scroll to be preserved as a jolting reminder of how it was in ancient times.

Next to the upbeat, innovative new testament teachings of Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, the Mourinho gospel - a book of the grimmest revelations - appears ever more stale and hopelessly time-expired.

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A crude, dismal dogma scribbled in archaic calligraphy by some unschooled third-century cave-dweller.

If those wishing to prosecute the Portuguese as yesterday's man required one last piece of damning evidence then Jose was happy to provide their smoking gun.

It was misfired against Liverpool on Saturday by a coach either incapable or unwilling to move with the times.

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp

Passive, risk-averse, unimaginative, still warbling on about transitions, Mourinho is the tactical equivalent of the unfortunate who believes stone-washed jeans and leg warmers remain cutting edge.

If football had fashion police, Jose - once a walking Vogue covershot - would by now be incarcerated in a 12x6 cell.

The contrast between how Spurs and Liverpool were set up on Saturday was stark: Fred Flinstone's footmobile set next to a streamlined, powerfully-torqued 21st century wonder of precision German engineering.

Klopp set out on the front foot to win the game; Mourinho favoured his default back foot setting. The priority to avoid defeat.

In interviews afterward, Jose was insistent on lowering expectations. Relentlessly negative.

He carped like a mountaineer asked to conquer Everest without crampons or oxygen rather than the manager of a club which contested the Champions League final just eight months earlier.

Mourinho forged a hugely successful career on the anvil of caution.

His achievements at Porto, Chelsea and Inter are imperishable.

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Jose Mourinho with Frank Lampard during his time as Chelsea manager (Peter Byrne/PA)

But football has experienced subversive climate change: And while Klopp leads the way in deploying cutting-edge teachings to deliver high-energy output, Mourinho continues to rely on fossil fuels.

It is all about minimizing errors, sardining men behind the ball.

Even in his Special One era, Mourinho's football would never have gained admittance to an aesthetic treasure house.

But if it was functional, something less than high art, it was wildly successful. Eight domestic and two Champions League titles weighed him down with battle ribbons.

Times change, but Mourinho remains intractable the same.

Caution is a blunt instrument against rampaging, high-pressing Liverpool or slick, daring, De Bruyne fuelled Manchester City.

For all Mourinho's reputation for brilliantly decommissioning opponents, Tottenham have kept one clean sheet since his arrival in London.

Rather, it is Anfield's offensive titans, who are showcasing attack and high-pressing as the finest form of defence. Liverpool have kept six successive clean sheets, conceded one goal in their last 1,000 minutes of competitive football.

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Jose Mourinho reacts during last Saturday's defeat to Liverpool (John Walton/PA)

Spurs under Mourinho have made the ceding of the initiative their unhappy calling card. Since his November arrival, they have lost all four games to A-list opposition - Liverpool, Bayern, Chelsea and Manchester United - by an aggregate score of 8-2.

This follows a pattern. Latter day Mourinho has looked a largely spent, sullen force. Devoid of wit or sunshine on and off the pitch.

Spending hundreds of millions at United but forever putting on the poor mouth, he sulked about better resourced rivals.

After losses to lower caste opponents, the rants contined. Like Mark Zuckerberg blaming poor Facebook financial results on an inability to match the corporate muscle of some Silicon Valley start-up.

The Spurs fans who will half fill their magnificent arena for tonight's FA Cup replay with Middlesbrough are already on the cusp of rebellion.

Was it for this insipid, think-small, muddled Portuguese symphony that they gave up their beloved Poch?

If Mourinho is not winning, then his soulless approach means there really is no justification for employing him.

Hunter Davies, if he was writing The Glory Game, his seminal work on Tottenham's 1971/72 season, might be tempted to omit the second letter of the title's second word.

This White Hart Lane campaign has unspooled as a sequence of gory details.

If there is to be an upsurge, it will hardly be authored by an old testament preacher so becalmed and adrift that he has lost even an ability to conjure fire and brimstone.

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