Only Liverpool, Manchester City and in-form United have more points than Tottenham since Jose Mourinho took over, so does he deserve more credit for salvaging their season after the mess Mauricio Pochettino left behind?
- Jose Mourinho has come under pressure for his spell at Tottenham so far
- But does he deserve credit for steadying the ship after Mauricio Pochettino left?
- After victory at Newcastle, Spurs could qualify for next season’s Europa League
- It is a far cry from Pochettino’s departure when the club were 14th in the table
When Tottenham lost at Sheffield United at the start of this month it felt like another of Jose Mourinho’s managerial reigns was about to implode.
Spurs were well beaten by Chris Wilder’s side at Bramall Lane, the hosts cutting through Mourinho’s defence with ease and forcing the visitors into a lacklustre display.
In the aftermath Mourinho said he was ‘destroyed a little bit on the inside’ by how his side rolled over and their slim hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next season were left in pieces.
Jose Mourinho watches on during his Tottenham side’s victory at Newcastle on Wednesday
Harry Kane celebrates scoring one of his two goals in the 3-1 win at St James’ Park
|PREMIER LEAGUE||UNDER MOURINHO||UNDER POCHETTINO|
|POINTS PER GAME||1.7||1|
|SHOT CONVERSION RATE||13.9||9.2|
|EXPECTED GOALS AGAINST||34.7||33.95|
But was that performance an unfair representation of Mourinho’s time in north London so far?
After all, only Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool have won more points in the Premier League than Spurs since Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino in November.
Mourinho arrived with Spurs in 14th and barely resembling the side that came within 90 minutes of winning the Champions League last summer.
But now, after Wednesday night’s 3-1 victory over Newcastle, Spurs are in a strong position to qualify for the Europa League. It would be a welcomed end to what has been a turbulent season in north London.
Mourinho has steadied Tottenham since taking over in November and could finish in the top six
Spurs were in 14th place when Mauricio Pochettino was sacked in November after a bad start
Spurs are just one point off sixth-placed Wolves but even seventh may be good enough for the Europa League if the FA Cup winners finish inside the top six.
There is no doubt Mourinho has a huge re-build on his hands but there have been positive signs that he can take this Spurs side forward next season.
Victory over Manchester City in February was a rousing moment for the club and finally felt like the big performance the club’s new £1billion stadium needed to finally feel like home.
They also won at Wolves, a venue at which City, Manchester United and Leicester have all dropped points this season, and provided enough resistance to prevent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s in-form United taking all three points when football restarted.
Victory over Arsenal in the north London derby last weekend will also do Mourinho no harm in the eyes of the supporters.
Steven Bergwijn celebrates after giving Spurs a famous three faces against Manchester City
Toby Alderweireld scored the winner against Arsenal last week in another boost to Mourinho
HOW SPURS’ POINTS-PER-GAME UNDER MOURINHO COMPARES TO THEIR RIVALS
Liverpool – 2.46
Manchester City – 2.08
Manchester United – 1.87
Tottenham – 1.7
Chelsea – 1.54
Arsenal – 1.5
Leicester – 1.43
And it is important to remember that Mourinho was barely able to field his strongest attacking players during his first few months and didn’t have them all available until after the coronavirus shutdown.
Harry Kane returned to goal-scoring form with a brace against Newcastle on Wednesday while Son Heung-min also found the back of the net. January signing Steven Bergwijn is also beginning to find his feet.
So how does Mourinho’s first 24 league games in charge of Spurs compare to the final 24 games of Pochettino’s tenure?
Mourinho has won 12, drawing five and losing seven. That gives him a win percentage of 50 per cent and a points per game tally of 1.7.
In comparison to Pochettino’s final 24 league games in charge of Spurs, that is an improvement. The Argentine could only win six, drawing seven and losing 11.
They have scored 39 goals in those games, conceding 29 and keeping just six clean sheets. Under Pochettino’s management Spurs netted 31 and conceded 31 with four clean sheets.
Spurs also have a better expected goals figure under Mourinho and boast a higher shot conversion rate than they did under their former manager.
Mourinho was all smiles after watching his side come from behind to beat rivals Arsenal
The stats also hint at a slight tweak in the style of play under Mourinho. Possession is down by just under seven per cent while successful passes and total shots are also less than when Pochettino is in charge.
That hints that Mourinho is trying to play a more direct style, rather than free-flowing football, as he tries to shore up Spurs and reduce the element of risk in their play.
There is undoubtedly still work to do for Mourinho in terms of making them difficult to score against but he will be hoping a summer of work behind the scenes can iron out those problems.
But compared to the state of the club when Mourinho walked in, Spurs are on the up and showing signs of gradual improvement.
It remains to be seen how much money Mourinho will get to spend in the transfer market this summer but some shrewd signings, as well as more time on the training ground, could turn them into Champions League hopefuls once again.