Christian Eriksen

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Spurs’ Mourinho quotes Mandela in discussing Man Utd return

1 Comment

Jose Mourinho is playing down his return to Manchester United, saying he hopes for a fine reception but is simply looking forward to the future with Tottenham Hotspur.

“This is a closed chapter for me,” he said. “I left the club and took my time to process everything that happened and to prepare myself for the next challenge. Manchester United for me is in my book of experiences. A little bit like Mr (Nelson) Mandela was saying: ‘You never lose. You win or you learn,’.”

[ MORE: Rodri, Jesus star in Man City win ]

United is two points back of Spurs heading into Wednesday’s match at Old Trafford (Watch live at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Mourinho’s answering questions about his side’s future, too, with January nearing and Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, and Christian Eriksen amongst those who either are or might be angling for moves away from the club.

He said he’s spoken to club chairman Daniel Levy and the players about what’s next, and that he has no worries about playing them.

“The important thing, really, is [they are] great professionals, big relationship with Tottenham, amazing understanding of what the club is and what we need from them,” Mourinho said. “So, all three ready to play, all three ready to forget the contractual situation. And that’s the most important thing now because we’re in three competitions. And these boys are great players and Tottenham people. I trust them.”

Report: Mourinho arrival could see Vertonghen, Alderweireld stay at Spurs

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Belgian duo Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld are two of many Tottenham players out of contract in the coming summer, and to this point talks with both on a new deal had stalled.

However, there seems to be renewed hope that both stick around now that Mauricio Pochettino has departed and Jose Mourinho is on as the new manager in North London.

Lyall Thomas of Sky Sports reported Wednesday that Vertonghen is “keen to discuss” a new contract with the club now that Mourinho has been brought aboard. The report states that Vertonghen was open to discussions with Pochettino in the past, but no offer was ever officially extended. Vertonghen was reportedly informed this summer that the club would not let him leave and he would play for Spurs in the final year of his contract.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

At 32 years old, Vertonghen has made six appearances for the club in the Premier League this season, with another three in Champions League play. He has battled a muscle injury of late but was on the bench for the comeback win over Olympiakos this week.

Alderweireld, meanwhile, has been quite open about his desire to leave the club this summer at the expiry of his deal, as the club has not offered him a new contract and there are thought to be a number of clubs interested in his services. However, a report by The Telegraph says that Alderweireld feels the arrival of Mourinho could calm his desire for a new challenge.

The 30-year-old defender admitted as such publicly after the win over Olympiakos, saying of Mourinho, “I am happy that I’m playing. I’m proud to work with a manager that has won it all. I am grateful that I can become a better player under him. I want to repay him for the faith he has shows in me.”

HLN reporter Kristof Terreur claims the club has not formally offered Alderweireld a new contract, but it was always expected he would leave even should they open talks. However, now it could be that Alderweireld desires to stay and talks can progress.

One of the biggest challenges Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy faced this season was the gaggle of players all out of contract either this summer or next, with very few seemingly willing to consider an extension. Alongside Alderweireld and Vertonghen, Christian Eriksen is also out of contract this summer, while the club will need to make a decision on the future of Giovani Lo Celso on loan from Real Betis. Eric Dier, Danny Rose, Victor Wanyama, and Oliver Skipp all have contracts expiring in the summer of 2021.

Tottenham reach UCL last 16 thanks to stunning comeback

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON — Jose Mourinho has lift off at Tottenham Hotspur.

After falling 2-0 down in the first half, Spurs rallied to beat Olympiacos 4-2 at home on Tuesday, as they reached the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Youssef El-Arabi gave Olympiacos the lead, the Ruben Semedo doubled it soon afer, but a goal just before half time from Dele Alli sparked Spurs into life.

Harry Kane equalized early in the second half and then Serge Aurier got the go-ahead goal before Kane finished things off on a triumphant, in the end, home debut for Mourinho at Spurs.


3 things we learned

1. Spurs’ shaky defense has to be priority: Spurs have conceded four times in Mourinho’s first two games in charge and he will not be happy about that. Olympiacos’ first was a fine individual goal but the second was after sloppy marking from a set piece. Spurs need to sharpen up defensively and they once again started slowly, which is nothing new this season. Olympiacos are a solid UCL team but nothing more. Keeping compact as a team and being tighter at the back has to be the first big project for Mourinho as Spurs manager. Going forward they will score plenty but they can’t keep shooting themselves in the foot.

2. Positive vibes for Mourinho: Somewhat surprisingly, the overall vibe towards Mourinho from the home fans was a positive one. Before and after the game. Spurs fans want one thing: To win trophies. They’ve accepted that wasn’t going to happen under Pochettino and have moved on very quickly. Mourinho is a winner and back-to-back wins to open up his time in charge of Spurs proves it. The overall message is that Mourinho is welcome at Spurs, as long as he wins a trophy.

3. Holding midfielder/right back key for January: Eric Dier was hooked off after 30 minutes and Eriksen came on to give Spurs some extra attacking impetus, but it was probably because he was having another shocker, just like Saturday at West Ham. He’s rusty and it showed. If Mourinho doesn’t start using Victor Wanyama as a holding midfielder, he needs to go out and get a new one in January. He probably needs a new right back too as Aurier was all over the place positionally, erratic in possession and Mourinho needed to bring Sissoko on to give him more protection defensively. A new right back and holding midfielder is a must for Mourinho’s January wishlist.

Man of the Match: Dele Alli – He scored one and grabbed an assist, as he continues to shine under Mourinho. Clever flicks and tricks stole the show and he has that nasty streak back.


Olympiacos took the lead with their first effort of the game as El Arabi brilliantly turned and smashed a low finish past Paulo Gazzaniga to send the away fans wide.

Heung-Min Son‘s flicked header then produced a fine save from Jose Sa in a rare Spurs attack, but it was Olympiacos who looked more likely to grab a second. And they did.

Things then got worse for Spurs as a corner was flicked on and Ruben Semedo tapped home to make it 2-0 and spark scenes of utter disbelief among the home fans.

Mourinho responded by subbing off Eric Dier with less than 30 minutes on the clock as Christian Eriksen came on to try and help Spurs salvage the situation.

Right on half time Spurs were gifted a way back into the game as a cross to the front post was missed by Yassine Meriah and Dele Alli tapped home.

Game on.

Five minutes into the second half Spurs drew level as some quick work from a ball boy found Serge Aurier, his quick throw-in found Lucas Moura who crossed for Kane to slot home as Mourinho celebrated wildly, and with the ball boy, on the sidelines.

Olympiacos poured forward and threatened on numerous occasions as Spurs creaked at the back, but Tottenham got the win their flowing attacking performance, in the second half, deserved.

Dele Alli’s ball to the back post found Aurier who hammered home as Mourinho celebrated wildly on the sidelines, while Kane nodded home Eriksen’s free kick to seal the win in style.

Mourinho is off to a flying start at Spurs, but there is plenty of work to do to repair the damage of the past 12 months.

Which Tottenham players have most to prove?

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jose Mourinho has a heck of a job on his hands to turn things around at Tottenham Hotspur, but the initial signs were encouraging in Spurs’ 3-2 win at West Ham on Saturday.

After that clash at the London Stadium I hosted a live video answering your questions (watch that back, here) and one of the questions was a belter: “Which Tottenham players have the most to prove?”

Simple answer: A lot of Tottenham’s players will be feeling guilty about their recent displays which ultimately led to Mauricio Pochettino and his staff losing their jobs.

A more detailed answer is that the trio of Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura have all struggled massively at different times and contributed to Pochettino’s dismissal, and an intriguing new player trading platform has the stats to back it up.

Via the team over at SportStack, this graphic below shows how the value of some of Tottenham’s most influential players have plummeted over the last 12 months.

How does it work? Players will earn and lose value during a match according to SportStack’s Scoring Table which gives a score of 0-100p per game based on pre-determined metrics including tackles won (+2p), shots on target (+5p), goals (+20p) and hitting the woodwork (+5). A pay out of the total amount will happen at the end of each match in line with the Scoring Table.

 

There’s no doubt that Mourinho got the most out of Kane, Alli and Moura at the weekend as Moura and Kane scored plus Alli played a key role in Tottenham’s first two goals.

And with both Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen said to be on their way out with contracts ending in the summer, it is certainly damning that they have both seen their values fall considerably, according to SportStack. Harry Kane is also in there, which probably says more about the players around him not creating the chances for him to finish than it does about Kane’s displays.

Right now every Spurs player will feel like they have something to prove to Mourinho in the coming days, weeks and months, but the list of players above will feel even more responsibility to dig deep.

It is time for Dele Alli and Lucas Moura to stand tall on a regularly basis, while Vertonghen and Eriksen need to move on as quickly as possible if they aren’t going to sign new contracts.

How should Tottenham line up under Mourinho?

1 Comment

Jose Mourinho takes charge of his first game as Tottenham’s new manager on Saturday away at bitter rivals West Ham (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

But who will start? What formation will he use? Which players will he favor?

There are plenty of questions around Mourinho’s team selection, as he’s already hinted that he will keep things very similar to Mauricio Pochettino in terms of personnel and tactics.

Here’s a look at who we think Mourinho will select if he has his strongest possible XI to choose from.


Jose Mourinho’s preferred XI at Tottenham?

—– Lloris —–

— Aurier — Sanchez — Alderweireld — Davies —

—- Dier —- Ndombele —-

—- Sissoko —- Dele —- Son —- 

—– Kane —–


Analysis

Mourinho loves players who are strong, powerful and know how to defend. This is why I’ve picked this XI above. Hugo Lloris is the obvious starting goalkeeper when he returns from injury, while Serge Aurier will get the nod at right back and Ben Davies at left back. Jan Vertonghen has shown signs of struggling this season, as Davinson Sanchez and Toby Alderweireld would be a preferred partnership for Mourinho. Although he did the try and sign both Eric Dier and Alderweireld while he was in charge of United, so perhaps that will be his go-to partnership if Dier isn’t deployed in midfield. Dier in central midfield would make Spurs more solid defensively as he could slot in for one of the back four if they push forward.

In midfield the duo of Dier and Tanguy Ndombele could play together, but don’t be surprised if Mourinho brings in Victor Wanyama alongside Dier to bring some extra stability. He could also place Moussa Sissoko back out on the wing to use his incredible engine in wide positions, as he loves wingers who can get up and down the pitch. Having Sissoko and Heung-Min Son flying up in support of target man Harry Kane (who will be asked to channel his inner Didier Drogba) would be Mourinho’s ideal scenario. When it comes to a key playmaker, Mourinho loves Dele Alli and he will hand him the keys to Spurs’ attack given his recent upturn in performances. Christian Eriksen, Vertonghen and Danny Rose all seem to be on the outside looking in as Mourinho’s arrival could spark their early departures in January.

There are clear winners and losers from Mourinho’s arrival with Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane delighted, while the likes of Eriksen, Vertonghen and Winks know it could well be the end of the road for them at Spurs, and even Giovani Lo Celso too, as his loan spell from Real Betis can end without a permanent deal in the summer.