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Tottenham ready to laud ‘born winner’ Mourinho

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LONDON — Jose Mourinho isn’t a hero at Tottenham Hotspur yet. But the fans want him to be.

Before the game the lyrics of a Tom Greenan’s Song “found what I’ve been looking for” blasted out over the PA system. Spurs and their Chairman Daniel Levy feel like the have, generally.

All the chatter before, during and after the game was about Jose Mourinho. The “born winner” who has won trophies at FC Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Manchester United.

Spurs fans hope Mourinho adds Spurs next to his list and keeps his incredible record going of winning silverware wherever he’s gone.

The former Chelsea and Man United manager has now won his first two games as Tottenham’s manager, beating rivals West Ham 3-2 on Saturday and securing a spot in the UEFA Champions League last 16 by beating Olympiacos 4-2 in dramatic fashion.

It was box office Mourinho to be 2-0 down early, make a tactical substitute after 30 minutes, then rally to win 4-2 and spark wild celebrations on the sidelines and in the stands. It was quite surprising just how positive Tottenham’s fans were towards Mourinho.

Asked by ProSoccerTalk after the game about the reaction from home fans and what he made of his home debut for Spurs, Mourinho made it all about the team, but mostly about himself.

“It is not about me, it is about the team. I just want to help. The fans helped, I helped, the ballboy helped. Everybody that loves Spurs helped the players. The players are the most important thing,” Mourinho said. “My feeling was great, especially because it was one of these matches where I had to play. Some of the matches you play before the match, the way you prepare the team, you work, you train and your action during the game isn’t very important. In other matches you have to play. But today I had to play. “I think that was my 80th victory in the Champions League. Let’s go for 81.”

He is always focused on one thing: Winning above everything else.

Speaking to Spurs fans before the game, they are keen to forget Mourinho’s allegiance to rivals Chelsea (but were also keen to also mention they couldn’t forget former manager George Graham for his links to Arsenal) provided he does one thing: Win.

“If you’re going to go get someone, this club needs someone who is going to win, so you can go on and win. It has been so long. He is a winning manager,” Danny Hood said, smiling, as he stood next to his daughter with his flat cap on. “To get a couple of trophies would be great and then hopefully even if he does go, hopefully they will have it in them to do it again.”

Mourinho is all about the final step for Tottenham.

Under Mauricio Pochettino they came so close to winning silverware but just came up short. That ruthless edge wasn’t there. Firing Pochettino and hiring Mourinho came out of necessity.

“When it happened I was shocked. In terms of Pochettino, I thought he had a little bit of time left. And Mourinho, well, I thought it was quite an extreme appointment,” Duncan Capp, a lifelong Spurs fans from Uxbridge, explained. “At the same time you could see the sense as well. A proven winner of trophies and it is sort of a marriage of convenience for both parties. Tottenham want to get back to the top four and Mourinho wants to get back to the Champions League and hopefully win it, again.”

There was a spring in the step of fans and staff members at Spurs before and after the game, as the new manager bump has arrived big time under Mourinho. For a manager who divides opinion, there is still a sense of hesitation to laud him from Tottenham’s fans.

His name was not sung by the home fans on Tuesday against Olympiacos.

“I don’t think we will be singing his name just yet and any response will be more for the team who are playing in the Champions League tonight,” Capp said. “I don’t think there will be a negative response for Mourinho. He has a chance, especially if he keeps winning. We aren’t going to win every single game under Mourinho, we know that, but the Champions League is a good platform for him. It is his competition, or so he thinks. If we can have a good run in the Champions League and get in the top four, it would be a good season.”

Other were more keen to go all-in on Mourinho: “If we start winning every week then we will start singing his name!” Hood added.

Fans broke down his hiring time and time again amongst themselves, with many admitting he’s probably be gone inside three seasons but if he left with a few more trophies under his arm, who cares? They want to win, any way, any how. One fan belted out that 38 1-0 victories with boring football would do the job.

Somewhere Mourinho’s ears must have pricked up.

“You have the third most successful manager in history now,” one fan explained to another. “Exactly. We sacked one world class manager and replaced him with another,” replied another.

Mourinho was apparently the “best appointment we could have made” but some admitted they were a “little worried about the reaction he will get.”

They know the Portuguese coach is playing the same game he has time and time again to get fans onside early and believe they can succeed. He’s a master at it.

“Mourinho is saying all the right things, Pochettino was saying all the wrong things,” said one man leaning on the edge of corporate box inside the stadium. He and his friends had a theory, if Spurs didn’t hire Mourinho, Arsenal would have. And they believed Pochettino would never go to the Gunners.

The next guy came along and wasn’t happy with Mourinho being the new manager but quipped “he could be a great manager and I hope it works out, but…”

The retort arrived: “But how good will it be for the youngsters, to have a winner like that around the team!?”

It all goes back to winning. It always does with Mourinho.

Winning means Spurs will try to become nasty again, as they try every trick in the box Mourinho wrote to get success.

He was the first person to celebrate with the ball boy who hurried to get the ball to Serge Aurier for Spurs’ second goal. The master of the dark arts approved.

“We want somebody who is nasty and pushing people and mixing it up. When Pochettino took over we were the youngest, fittest team and the most aggressive team,” Danny Hood added. “People talked about us being the hardest team in the league to play against. Dele used to dive, wind people up, Poch told him to stop that and knocked the confidence out of him. I want that nasty team again, that team who fought everyone. I hope that comes back.”

There is still a reluctance to get too excited by Mourinho.

“My initial reaction was shock but once you break it all down, here some of the details and rumors, then you sort of understand it a bit more. You can accept it a little more,” Capp added.

The acceptance at Spurs is that Mourinho isn’t perfect, but he’s a winner.

“He’s proven he can win everywhere, so let’s hope Spurs aren’t the odd ones out,” Daisy Hood laughed. “I nearly fell asleep during the Newcastle game! I want trophies. So it is Mourinho. As long as he’s running up the touchline at Stamford Bridge celebrating for Tottenham, I’m happy.”

Europa League: How to watch Tottenham-Maccabi Haifa, schedule, start time, odds

Tottenham - Maccabi Haifa
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Jose Mourinho’s insane September in three competitions continues with a Thursday’s Tottenham-Maccabi Haifa fixture in the Europa League, the final playoff match coming exactly three weeks before the first matchday of the group stahe.

The visitors head into North London on a five-match unbeaten run and if they manage a show-stopping upset it will likely star an American.

California native Josh Cohen, 28, has started all five of those matches between the sticks for Maccabi Haifa. The ex-USL and UC San Diego goalkeeper has been with the club since leaving the Sacramento Republic in 2019.

[ MORE: Europa League scoreboard ]

Ukraine-born Australian striker Nikita Rukavytsya is the key man for Maccabi Haifa’s attack, boasting seven goals and three assists in five appearances this season.

Spurs should have a pretty strong group despite their fixture weariness as Harry Kane, Lucas Moura, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, and Matt Doherty started on the bench for Tuesday’s League Cup fourth-round win over Chelsea.

In other action, Steven Gerrard’s Rangers certainly would’ve loved to have drawn any number of opponents rather than Turkish powers Galatasaray.

Rangers - Galatasaray
Rangers boss Gerrard (left) was teammates with Galatasaray striker Ryan Babel while at Liverpool  (Photo by Peter Byrne – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

While there’s been good humor online regarding Gerrard managing while former teammate Ryan Babel hits the pitch for Gala, the Turkish side arrives in Glasgow in a foul mood.

Here’s manager Faith Terim, who is upset that his side drew derby rivals Fenerbahce 0-0 at home.

“I will turn all my attention to Rangers now,” Terim said, via the Daily Record. “The Europa League is very important to us in many ways and of course, we will play our strongest team. At the moment, we are playing every three or four days and that can be a factor. But we just have to deal with it. It always hurts when you don’t win a derby game and we have a chance to put it right this week in Glasgow.”

Rangers are favorites in the match, which shows how far Gerrard has brought Scotland’s second-best side in points-per-game. Watch out for Babel, who’s scored six times in 25 matches for Gala after his 2018-19 star turn in Fulham’s relegation season.

Which brings us to Celtic, who is a point behind their eternal rivals but has a match-in-hand.

Neil Lennon’s men have disappointed in Europe this season and are heavy favorites going into Sarajevo, as they were when needed almost every minute to get past Riga 1-0 in Latvia last week after being bounced from the Champions League by Ferencvaros.

Elsewhere, AC Milan won’t have Zlatan Ibrahimovic when it visits Portugal’s Rio Ave.


How to watch Tottenham – Maccabi Haifa + Europa League playoff round streams, start times

When: Thursday
Online: Bleacher Report Live


Thursday’s Europa League playoff round ties

All times ET

Thursday
CFR Cluk v KuPS — 11:30 am ET
Malmo v Granada — 1 pm ET
Charleroi v Lech Poznan — 1 pm ET
Rosenborg v PSV Eindhoven — 1 pm ET
Dinamo Zagreb v Flora — 1 pm ET
Ararat-Armenia v Red Star Belgrade — 1 pm ET
Liberec v APOEL Nicosia — 1 pm ET
Hapo’el Beer-Sheva v Viktoria Plzen — 1:30 pm ET
Sarajevo v Celtic — 2pm ET
Standard Liege v Fehervar — 2pm ET
Dinamo Brest v Ludogorets Razgrad — 2pm ET
Copenhagen v Rijeka — 2pm ET
Legia Warsaw v Qarabag — 2pm ET
Dundalk v KI — 2:30 pm ET
Young Boys v Tirana — 2:30 pm ET
Basel v CSKA Sofia — 2:30 pm ET
AEK Athens v Wolfsburg — 2:45 pm ET
Rangers v Galatasaray — 2:45 pm ET
Rio Ave v AC Milan — 3 pm ET
Tottenham Hotspur v Maccabi Haifa — 3 pm ET
Sporting Lisbon v LASK — 3 pm ET


Select Europa League odds (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Sarajevo (+800) v Celtic (-358) | Draw (+400)
AEK Athens (+235) v Wolfsburg (-103) | Draw (+235)
Rangers (+108) v Galatasaray (+220) | Draw (+225)
Rio Ave (+300) v AC Milan (-125) | Draw (+240)
Tottenham Hotspur (-667) v Maccabi Haifa (+1200) | Draw (+550)
Sporting Lisbon (+115) v LASK (+215) | Draw (+215)

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.

Mourinho: ‘Phenomenal’ Tottenham players ‘made Chelsea look ordinary’

Mourinho reaction
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A League Cup game in September is far from a Champions League Final, but Tuesday’s League Cup match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea was a Jose Mourinho performance culled from his best designs.

The ex-Chelsea manager spent weeks planting the underdog sees in the media, had a touchline argument with current Blues boss his former midfielder Frank Lampard, and saw his Spurs come back to win in penalties with a performance very much set up by the tactics.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Mourinho played down the touchline spat with Lampard, but would do no such thing in describing his side’s performance.

Spurs used a 3-5-2 and gave Chelsea possession, something that helped the visitors claim a 1-0 lead, but Tottenham registered more shots on target and claimed a deserved late equalizer set up by Mourinho’s latest signing Sergio Reguilon.

“We were ready to fight, I told you,” Mourinho said after the game, via the BBC. “I told the players before the penalties that they were magnificent in the second half, we made Chelsea look ordinary. The team waited for the right moment…. I have to think about three games at the same time but the players only thought about this game, they were phenomenal. Phenomenal.”

There was a concerning moment that turned out to be comical when Eric Dier ran off the field in the second half and Mourinho zipped down the tunnel.

The manager followed Dier into the bathroom, apparently, and encouraged the English back to handle his business quickly.

“Jose wasn’t happy but there was nothing I could do about it, nature was calling,” Dier said after the game. “I heard there was a chance while I was off the pitch but thankfully they didn’t score.”

It is a bit surprising that this doesn’t happen more often. Hey, when you gotta go…

“With Eric you can imagine what happened, to leave the pitch,” Mourinho said via Football.London. “I was just going to push him a bit as we had one player less. It was the consequence of what he did, tired, dehydrated. I cannot play him on Thursday or I would kill him.”

There’s more good news for Spurs, who move within three wins of a first trophy under Mourinho: Heung-min Son’s hamstring injury isn’t too serious and the South Korean should be back after the international break.

Mourinho also lavished praise on goal scorer Erik Lamela, Spurs’ danger man on the day. The manager said neither Lamela nor Dier will play in Thursday’s Europa League tie against Maccabi Haifa in North London.

USMNT’s Sergino Dest in Spain as Barcelona, Ajax sort payment (video)

Sergino Dest to Barcelona
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USMNT fullback Sergino Dest to Barcelona is nearly official, with the 19-year-old is in Spain as Ajax and Barca are reportedly taking time to sort out the payment plan.

The $27 million Dest is one of at least eight Americans in the transfer rumor mill this week and has been at the heart of a transfer scrap between Bayern Munich and Barca.

Dest was a late sub in Saturday’s win over Vitesse and other reports claimed he had been in Spain for a few days.

[ MORE: Thiago tests positive for COVID-19 ]

It wouldn’t have hurt Barca’s odds that U.S. youth teammate Konrad de la Fuente signed a senior contract this summer after impressing for Barca from the U-16 to U-19 levels.

De la Fuente played right wing in front of Dest at right back for Tab Ramos at the 2019 U-20 World Cup, where the Yanks reached the quarterfinals.

Dest was named Ajax Young Talent of the Year last season and a member of the 2020 Golden Boy shortlist.

He was successfully wooed to stay with the U.S. program despite Ronald Koeman recruiting him to play for the Netherlands. Now Koeman will manage the back at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona visits Celta Vigo on Thursday in its second La Liga match of the season. Ansu Fati scored twice and Lionel Messi once as Barca won its league opener 4-0 over Villarreal this weekend.

Tottenham ousts Chelsea from League Cup

Tottenham - Chelsea
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Tottenham – Chelsea: It took penalties to separate Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea during Tuesday’s League Cup fourth round match in North London, and the first player to miss sealed the result for second-choice Spurs.

Chelsea’s Mason Mount missed the 10th attempt of penalties to send Frank Lampard’s Blues out of the competition.

Erik Lamela’s second-half goal forced the spot kicks after Timo Werner’s first Chelsea goal had given the Blues an early lead at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

[ MORE: Mourinho in fine form after the game ]

Edouard Mendy stopped Erik Lamela and Sergio Reguilon on either side of halftime, but Reguilon and Lamela teamed up to level the score in the 83rd minute.

Spurs did not have Heung-min Son due to a hamstring injury and rested several stars to start but called upon Harry Kane, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, and Lucas Moura off the bench. Chelsea was still without Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]


Three things we learned

1. New boys Mendy, Werner impress: There will be better teams including better Spurs teams, butEdouard Mendy was not bothered by the task at hand on Tuesday as he made his first Chelsea appearance following a long-forming $28 million move from Rennes. He made two strong saves when called upon and was confident with the ball at his feet, only causing distress with a failure to cleanly corral a 69th-minute corner kick. There wasn’t much he could do when Emerson’s mistake allowed Lamela an equalizer and penalties are penalties.

It took 11 shots for Werner to get his first proper goal in a Chelsea shirt but the opening tally of his Blues career was certainly a memorable one. Werner smashed a 19-yard shot through traffic to open the scoring in North London and it’s difficult to find fault in any part of it. Coming against a London rival is a bonus.

2. Spurs’ new signing shows Mourinho’s intent: It was clear when Spurs signed Matt Doherty and Sergio Reguilon that Jose Mourinho wanted more from his fullbacks and the latter was very good on debut. Serge Aurier was on the right flank of Mourinho’s 3-5-2 and spotted Reguilon for a first-half chance denied by Mendy before Reguilon’s cross led to the equalizer. This “second-choice” lineup came right out of Mourinho’s wheelhouse and delivered a fairly vintage performance. Chelsea had more of the ball but Spurs more of the shots.

3. Tempers flare between old pals (Mou still has it): Frank Lampard is turning out to be a manager who loves a touchline argument and perhaps that’s something he learned from his old boss. Lampard famously traded barbs with Jurgen Klopp last season and Mourinho was happy to take his old midfielder up on the offer on Tuesday. You can imagine it might take a lot for Lampard to be surprised by Mou but also that the latter knows which pushed buttons can activate the Englishman (A report online claimed that Lampard might’ve irked Mourinho by becoming more vocal after Chelsea took the lead). The pair did shake hands before penalties but Spurs and Chelsea were growing a nice rivalry before the North Londoners dropped off a bit last year. We’re ready for it to regain its feistiness.

Man of the Match

Werner is always running and could’ve had two or three with a bit of luck or more sharpness. He edges a bunch of players who were not with their clubs in the summer: Mendy, Reguilon, and Ndombele (Wait? What’s that you say? Ndombele has been with Tottenham for some time?).


Tottenham – Chelsea recap

Werner got hold of a seeing-eye Cesar Azpilicueta cross in the 19th minute to open the scoring, lashing home from outside the 18.

Gedson Fernandes wanted a penalty when Kurt Zouma won a tight challenge in the heart of Chelsea’s 18, but none came for the Spurs man.

Then Jose Mourinho became a psychic, as Eric Dier left with injury a day after the boss said he expected more injuries to come to Spurs due to fixture congestion.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

A silky Erik Lamela turn forced Mendy into the first big save of his Chelsea career as it stayed 1-0 to the visitors in the 35th.

Mendy then made a strong stop when Serge Aurier’s cross through the box was laced by Reguilon in the 50th.

A big tackle from N’Golo Kante allowed Mason Mount to cue up Werner, but the German’s 73rd-minute low drive was smothered by Lloris.

Mourinho comically zipped down the tunnel to check on Eric Dier after the center back ran off the pitch and into the locker room only to return.

Dier was soon busy again, blocking Mount’s bid to set up Werner alone in the 18.

Spurs sub Harry Kane nearly made it 1-1 in the 81st but missed the frame.

But it was Lamela who spent the day as Chelsea’s threat and he was in the catbird seat when Emerson bungled Reguilon’s back-post cross.


Upcomimng League Cup fourth round kickoff times and odds (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Newport County (+560) v Newcastle (-230)  | Draw (+340)— 12:30 pm ET Weds
Burnley (+625) v Manchester City (-275) | Draw (+375) — 2 pm ET Weds
Brighton (+300) v Manchester United (-120) | Draw (+250)— 2:45 pm ET Weds
Everton (-145) v West Ham (+350) | Draw (+280)— 2:45 pm ET Weds
Brentford (+135) v Fulham (+185) | Draw (+225)— 12:30 pm ET Thursday
Aston Villa (-150) v Stoke City (+360) | Draw (+275)— 2 pm ET Thursday
Liverpool (-105) v Arsenal (+230) | Draw (+270)— 2:45 pm ET Thursday

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links