SPECIAL REPORT: Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has already tried to shift the blame for the unsuccessful Jose Mourinho experiment – players and staff are relieved with his departure having grown tired over his methods
- Tottenham sacked Mourinho on Monday, six days before the Carabao Cup final
- His tenure was marked by disappointing defeats and plenty of player-blaming
- And Levy must take full responsibility for his decision to appoint the Portuguese
The timing of Monday’s announcement was surprising; the fact Jose Mourinho has lost his job certainly wasn’t.
Behind the scenes, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy had started the process of shifting the blame; trying to convince those around him that he was almost railroaded into offering the Portuguese the job in 2019.
Those at Spurs had seen this before – Levy was shifting into sacking mode. From that moment it’s been a case of when, not if. Even up until a fortnight ago, the feeling was that Mourinho would see out the rest of the season before being sent packing.
Tottenham sacked manager Jose Mourinho on Monday, just six days before the EFL Cup final
Chairman Daniel Levy appointed the Portuguese and must take responsibility for his failure
So the timing of Monday’s announcement caught football on the hop. Tottenham play Manchester City in the Carabao Cup on Sunday.
The result, frankly, wouldn’t have had a bearing on Mourinho’s future – he was gone regardless, Sportsmail has reported as much since February.
But surely you let him have the final, even if to have the opportunity to say his appointment wasn’t a complete waste of time.
If Levy was trying to bury bad news, then he picked the perfect day to do it as football came to terms with Sunday’s seismic revelation about the pending European Super League.
Mourinho left the training ground for the last time after news of his sacking broke on Monday
From the moment he signed that three-and-a-half year contract, you knew Mourinho’s appointment was going to end in tears.
Well, everyone apart from Levy, who was starstruck by Mourinho’s aura and appeal. His recent attempts to distance himself from the appointment has fooled no-one.
Levy made the decision as he travelled back from Merseyside following Tottenham’s 2-2 draw at Everton – a game they’d have lost if Harry Kane wasn’t playing. Spurs have said that far too often this season – it’s why Mourinho is out of a job.
Levy was said to be frantically texting during the game at Goodison Park, his eyes weren’t on the game. We know now where his focus was.
Levy reportedly made the call after the 2-2 draw vs Everton, in which Harry Kane limped off
But the Spurs chairman didn’t need the use of his phone to realise Mourinho was no longer the man to lead this team forward. He only needed to speak to his players.
The discord between Mourinho and a significant number of his squad was unmistakeable and the Special One really didn’t help himself.
For instance, in February 2020 he pleaded with Toby Alderweireld to leave his newborn baby and wife to play against Aston Villa in a game Tottenham won 3-2 – a match where the Belgian scored for both teams.
Just two weeks later Alderweireld was axed by Mourinho for a game against Wolves after Tottenham had lost 2-1 to Chelsea.
Mourinho is said to have fallen out with defenders Toby Alderweireld (left) and Serge Aurier
The central defender, understandably, wasn’t best pleased. You can imagine what Alderweireld was thinking when Mourinho falsely accused him of missing training earlier this month.
His lack of communication with fringe players was another trait that irked members of the squad. Dele Alli and Harry Winks, both England internationals, were both marginalised by Mourinho without so much as an explanation why.
Serge Aurier sensationally stormed out of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium during the loss to Liverpool in January because of disagreement with Mourinho at half-time.
His treatment of Eric Dier and Gareth Bale has also surprised many at Tottenham in recent weeks – this was a squad who was growing tired of Mourinho and his methods.
But Lucas Moura (left), Harry Kane (centre) and Son are upset at the decision to fire him
There are those were remained loyal to the Portuguese. As the player filtered into training on Monday, they had no idea of what was about to happen until their session was delayed.
As the news broke, some were relieved – even happy. Yet others weren’t so impressed – in particular Harry Kane, who is said to have been among the most disappointed by the decision.
Similarly, Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg were also among those most distressed by the sacking.
But make no mistake, this squad was fractured – one well-placed source described the atmosphere at the club’s Enfield HQ as ‘horrendous’ during the final weeks of Mourinho’s reign.
It is believed if fans were in stadiums criticising him the firing would have happened sooner
His ‘dated’ coaching methods and pragmatic style of play had begun to grate on the players and there was a belief behind the scenes that Mourinho would have been sacked long before Monday if fans were allowed in the stadium.
Tottenham supporters wouldn’t stand for Mourinho’s approach, they’d have made their feeling crystal clear by now.
A significant section of the squad were of a similar view. Mourinho was disregarding the club’s attacking traditions, some players didn’t want any part of it.
They also disliked Mourinho’s apparent eagerness to publicly blame them for defeats after losses; it was never the manager’s fault.
It wasn’t just the players who’d grown tired of the 58-year-old; at least one senior member of the club’s recruitment staff is understood to have had a strained relationship with Mourinho in recent months.
Privately, Mourinho felt he simply did not have the players, particularly defensively, to carry out his instructions. Who should shoulder the blame for that? It certainly wasn’t going to be him.
The tension was showing on Mourinho too, with insiders saying the Portuguese would regularly report for training like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.
But make no mistake, the players or staff weren’t consulted about this decision. Yet again, Levy will have to live or die by this one.
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