An underappreciated issue within the many successes Jose Mourinho has had is that he was at all times such a sizzling commodity within the job market that he might select ascending groups to handle. Then he’d put the ending touches on a core of standout gamers approaching their prime and declare the spoils.
That is the prerogative of the super-manager. Very like Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp will most likely by no means once more accept a job that doesn’t place them for quick success, there’s a self-fulfilling prophecy on this cycle. Tremendous-manager takes over a budding super-team; collects a bunch of prizes; raises his stature even additional; ensures that he’ll solely work for super-teams, and so forth.
The difficulty is that when Mourinho took over Tottenham Hotspur in November, he was completely happy simply to have a job with a giant Premier League membership in any respect. His inventory had plummeted after one more sad finish with Chelsea and a disappointing spell with Manchester United. Subsequently he couldn’t be fairly so picky.
So this time, he needed to accept a workforce that had already peaked with final 12 months’s shock run to the Champions League remaining – shedding to the identical Liverpool Spurs confronted Saturday, a workforce that has now set a report for many factors by means of 21 matches within the historical past of Europe’s high 5 leagues – earlier than falling precipitously in type this season.
What’s extra, Mourinho wouldn’t be getting a lot cash, if any, to plug the numerous holes within the workforce he’d inherited from Mauricio Pochettino, who was himself pushed to despair by the shortage of funding.
But regardless of Saturday’s 1-0 house loss to runaway league leaders Liverpool, Mourinho deserved substantial credit score for Tottenham’s efficiency. Even when Klopp’s Reds elevated their result in a staggering 16 factors whereas Spurs fell to eighth place – under Wolves and, extra painfully, Sheffield United.
Mourinho, for his half, has now received simply one in all 11 head-to-head matchups with Klopp, shedding 5 occasions. It was additionally his eighth profession loss to Liverpool in 29 matches. In his private rivalry with Liverpool, which dates again to a mid-2000s feud with its then-manager Rafa Benitez and apparently originated with the Reds passing Mourinho over for a job, the Portuguese’s finest days had appeared far behind him.
He as soon as shushed the Liverpool followers as his Chelsea stormed again for a win after which, years later, celebrated wildly when his Blues derailed Liverpool’s finest hope for a title since 1990 with a win on Steven Gerrard’s slip in 2014. However in his final job with United, Mourinho had been unable to compete with the reigning European champions.
And within the first half, that pattern gave the impression to be holding.
Tactically, Spurs didn’t precisely pack it in, placing out a lineup that urged they wished to take the sport to the presumptive champions with a number of playmaking choices within the squad in Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Harry Winks. However they had been however pushed all the way in which again by a Liverpool workforce that was dominant in each line.
Alisson’s positioning when Lpool are in opposition half a giant purpose why they’re so powerful to harm on the counter as he clears virtually the whole lot. Some keepers by no means depart the 18 yard field, however he owns his half… pic.twitter.com/UWUragE4fF
— Mark Ogden (@MarkOgden_) January 11, 2020
Within the first half, Liverpool claimed a staggering 82 % of possession – away from house, no much less – and compelled Spurs to accept counter-attacking. However with out the injured Harry Kane, the assault lacked a reference level to swivel round in that trademark Spursian motion.
At occasions, it felt like Liverpool was merely toying with its host, like when Klopp inverted his world-class wing backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, simply because, effectively, he might.
Simply two minutes in, Bobby Firmino’s shot was blocked simply in entrance of the objective line by Spurs’ Japhet Tanganga, making his senior debut. A second shot by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got here off the far submit. Some 20 minutes later, because the Reds had been taking part in circles round Spurs once more, Mohamed Salah’s little dink to the far submit left Virgil van Dijk with a wide-open header, but it surely was parried by goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga.
Liverpool had a lot possession in Tottenham’s third within the first half that issues needed to give in some unspecified time in the future. Within the thirty seventh minute, Salah discovered Firmino within the field, who turned away from Tanganga and had time and area to rifle his shot house.
Salah had one other look earlier than the intermission as he received the ball and darted off however completed extensive.
However Spurs made changes at halftime and gained far more of a foothold in a second half through which they outplayed the imperious Reds. However it took some time for the key possibilities to materialize.
Lastly within the seventy fifth minute, Spurs lastly caught Liverpool on the ball on good work from Giovani Lo Celso. Lucas Moura teed up Heung-Min Son, however he airmailed his end. Then, Serge Aurier despatched a luxurious ball to the far submit the place Lo Celso managed to get to it on a sliding half-volley however unimaginably flashed it extensive of objective totally. Mourinho sank to his knees in despair as Klopp, clearly panicked, barked at his workforce to shore up.
But when it felt then that Spurs deserved one thing from the sport, they didn’t get it.
Which is all to say that Spurs have now didn’t win in three straight Premier League video games and 4 of 5, shedding 3 times. But the efficiency was additionally a credit score to Mourinho, who’s having to do extra with lower than at maybe some other time in his profession. Now not the super-manager, managing what’s decidedly not a super-team.
Leander Schaerlaeckens is a Yahoo Sports activities soccer columnist and a sports activities communication lecturer at Marist Faculty. Observe him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.
Extra from Yahoo Sports activities: