Mourinho has got Tottenham believing again. And that's bad news for their top-four rivals
Even typing that sentence above made me barf a little in my mouth. But I’m realistic enough to know that in hiring Jose Mourinho as their new manager, Spurs have significantly increased their chances of not only finishing in the top-four this season, but actually winning some silverware.
Because it’s clear as day – Mourinho has made Spurs believe again.
Just take a look at what happened on Wednesday morning (SGT) in their home Champions League game against Olympiakos.
Having seemingly forgotten that Mauricio Pochettino was no longer their manager, Spurs started the game playing like their North London rivals Arsenal, and promptly went 2-0 down to the Greek side after just 20 minutes.
But Mourinho was having none of that. Out went the lump of mediocrity known as Eric Dier in the 29th minute, and in came playmaker Christian Eriksen.
Deliberate. Definitive. Decisive.
The substitution had the desired effect. Mourinho’s men went on to launch a stunning comeback, with goals from Dele Alli, Harry Kane (2) and Serge Aurier helping Spurs secure a 4-2 win over the visitors – a result which guarantees them passage into the knockout stages of the competition.
Notably, this was also the first time that a Mourinho-led team had come from two goals down to win a Champions League game.
It was the perfect way for Mourinho to mark his home managerial debut with Spurs, but more importantly, it sent a message to all of Spurs’ English Premier League (EPL) top-four rivals: Mourinho and Spurs mean business.
Despite this result, I know that some of you still scoff at the idea of Mourinho – a man who managed Manchester United as well as Olivia Lum ran Hyflux – achieving success with Spurs.
But let’s not forget, the Portuguese actually won trophies in his first year at United – the League Cup and Europa League – and even guided the Red Devils to a second-place finish in the league.
And we now know, with the benefit of hindsight, what a huge achievement that was for Mourinho, especially since United have regressed further under the stewardship of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
So no, Mourinho is not a has-been. By all accounts, he is still a great motivator, and as you can see, has already managed to charm the Spurs players into remembering that they are professional footballers with functional legs.
Whether Mourinho will last past the infamous three-season benchmark at Spurs is another matter altogether, but for now, the 56-year-old and Spurs seem like a match made in heaven. Or, if you’re an Arsenal fan like me, a match made in the darkest, fieriest depths of hell.
Of course, the true test of Mourinho and Spurs’ mettle will take place in the coming week when they are due to play three games in the next seven days, including the small matter of Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford next Thursday (Dec 5).
But the newfound belief that Mourinho has instilled in his team should see them through the gruelling fixture list. In fact, while it pains me to say this, I fully expect Spurs (in 10th place) to leapfrog Arsenal (8th) soon enough.
After all, while Spurs chairman Daniel Levy acted quickly and authoritatively to replace a failing manager in Pochettino, the Gunners’ hierarchy continues to persist in the train-wreck of a managerial appointment that is Unai Emery.
Given Spurs’ poor early-season form, and the huge investment that Arsenal made in the summer, this EPL campaign should have been perfect for Arsenal to reinstate the celebration of St Totteringham's Day – the day when Gooners worldwide rejoice in the fact that Spurs can no longer finish ahead of them in the league.
Instead, Arsenal continue to underwhelm and trudge along under Emery. If this continues on, I fear our chances of finishing in the top-half of the table, let alone above Spurs, could be at risk.
However, it’s not just Arsenal who have to fear the Mou-effect at Spurs. Chelsea, United and even Manchester City should look behind them in fear as well.
Yes, everyone better believe the Spurs revival is real – because the Spurs squad certainly do.