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Jose won't solve the crisis; he is the crisis

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Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: PA

Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: PA

PA

Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: PA

In a crisis there is need for extreme measures. In a crisis there is need for a people to have faith in their leader, the only man who can save them. In a crisis the usual norms must be forgotten as the emergency is combated. Tottenham are facing a crisis. Treacherous agents of the counter revolution are targeting their forwards, which is why everybody must be grateful Jose Mourinho is there to take the hard decisions. And speaking of enemies of the people, have you seen how Tanguy Ndombele's been playing recently?

There are still those who maintain faith. Of course the great leader will save them, if only critics would stop talking Tottenham down. Josefication must go on.

So what if all the principles, all the good practice, all the goodwill generated under Mauricio Pochettino end up being jettisoned along the way? Those are necessary sacrifices on the road to a Jose future. So what if Josefication was always a short-term measure that left a toxic residue even when it worked, which it hasn't for five years? Daniel Levy has spoken.

A reminder of the situation Mourinho inherited: he took over a squad that lay 14th in the table and had taken just 14 points from 12 games. It had taken just 11 points from the final 12 games of last season - although in that same time Spurs had reached the Champions League final. The decline had already set in.

But it is an oddity of modern football to believe that no manager could ever possibly arrest a downturn. Pochettino had brought five years of progress. He had for two years been highlighting the problems a lack of investment was likely to cause. He knew his squad was going stale. Levy was faced with a critical decision: stick with the manager who had taken them so far and rejuvenate the squad; or sack Pochettino and turn to the ageing rebel and hope he had one great revolution left in him.

In taking 27 points from 17 league games and leading Tottenham out of the FA Cup and Champions League Mourinho has dismantled the Pochettino style and denounced a number of players. At times he has adopted an ultra-defensive approach but, other than against Manchester City, it hasn't really worked: his 26 games in charge have brought just three clean sheets.

Against RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday Spurs looked weary, slow and disjointed, in the sort of display to make a manager rip everything up and start again. How quickly the legacy of Pochettino has been squandered.

Of course none of this is Mourinho's fault. How could anybody win games without two forwards? How can he not despair when he looks at the RB Leipzig bench and sees seven players who would get into his first team? How can the authorities possibly expect his squad to play two games in four days?

In situations like this the mind goes back to the comment made by a Gestifute executive to the journalist Diego Torres to explain why Manchester United did not appoint Mourinho as the successor to Alex Ferguson: "The problem is when things do not go well for Mourinho, he does not follow the club's line. He follows Jose's line." Where other managers might try to find ways of winning a game, Mourinho looks to find ways of deflecting the blame for a loss.

Other teams suffer injuries and often they are just as unfortunately concentrated on one area of the side. Most clubs get on with it. They change their shape or they play somebody out of their usual position or they promote a young prospect, such as Troy Parrott.

The problem for Tottenham now is that the crisis is real. By the time Pochettino left they were not pressing with the same intensity. Some of the belief had gone but at least everybody still knew what the plan was supposed to be. What is it now?

There was an obvious contrast on Tuesday with the pace and decisiveness of Leipzig's attacking. They were structured, knew the weak points to exploit, knew where to move, knew where to pass. Mourinho has always eschewed such automatisation, preferring to condition players to make the right decision in any circumstance rather than trying to pre-empt those situations .

But that seems increasingly old-fashioned. In the context of Spurs, where players are uncertain, confidence sapped, the result has been a lot of pointing and shrugging and waving of arms.

Mourinho has always excelled at creating a siege mentality, railing against opponents, referees and the authorities, and often his own board. But at least in the old days the players were inside the city walls. These days Jose, burned by his time at Real Madrid, has come to resemble a fading dictator, railing at the fading of his talents, and blaming the traitors he sees in every corner. Players are no more to be trusted than anybody else. It is him against the world. Mourinho isn't the answer to the crisis; he has become the crisis.

Observer

Sunday Indo Sport