Has Jose Mourinho run out of ideas again?
Where did it go wrong for Jose Mourinho at Spurs?

Jose Mourinho: Why Tottenham manager's sacking was inevitable

A glance at the Premier League table would suggest Tottenham's decision to sack Jose Mourinho after just 17 months was correct. Factor in that Mourinho, a decorated coach with a 'winning mentality', was brought in to win trophies, sacking him six days before the Carabao Cup final makes little sense.

Spurs are trophy-less since 2008. Since bursting on to the scene at Porto in 2003, Mourinho has won 11 of 13 cup finals.

But ultimately, the serial winner has failed to improve Tottenham since replacing Mauricio Pochettino in November 2019, and that has cost him his job.

The style of play, results, and underlying numbers, are damning.

He was brought in to win trophies and qualify for the Champions League, but since Tottenham are one of the 12 'founders' of a new European Super League in which none of the founder can be relegated, the necessity for Mourinho and his results-based style waned.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson celebrates with Premier League trophy
CLICK TO READ: European Super League: Liverpool, Man United, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham become founder members

No visible sign of improvement

Over recent weeks, Tottenham’s shocking defence has been fully exposed, with the main surprise being that a defensive minded coach like Mourinho has failed to make them tough to beat.

There are no signs of improvement either - Spurs have conceded 13 goals in their last seven matches.

To put it bluntly, Spurs are a mid-table team defensively, with their expected goals against (xGA) per game figure of 1.41 ranking them ninth in this season's Premier League.

What is expected goals (xG)?

  • Expected goals (xG) is a metric that measures the quality of any given scoring opportunity
  • Expected goals for (xGF) is the xG created by a team
  • Expected goals against (xGA) is xG conceded by a team

Since Mourinho took over, Spurs have averaged 1.46 xGA per game, so have been consistently bad over a large sample of 58 league games.

In comparison, throughout Pochettino’s final 58 games in charge - widely seen as a drop-off that led to the Argentine's departure - Spurs allowed 1.41 xGA per game. Nothing has changed.

It is the same story in attack.

Mauricio Pochettino v Jose Mourinho last 58 Premier League games in charge
Mauricio Pochettino v Jose Mourinho last 58 Premier League games in charge

Across Mourinho’s tenure, Tottenham averaged 1.45 expected goals for (xGF) per game, while in Pochettino’s final 58 matches they averaged 1.49.

The team has stagnated.

The expected goal difference (xGD) of +4.5 over Poch’s last 58 matches is still a poor return from a team with aspirations of a title challenge and at the very least a top four finish, but the -1.1 xGD posted during Mourinho’s tenure is alarmingly bad.

Results similar, style of play worst

Despite the underlying numbers suggesting Spurs have stayed fairly consistent from a performance standpoint over the last few seasons and through two different managers, the styles of play couldn’t be more stark.

Under Pochettino, Spurs were a high octane, attack first team that was exciting to watch.

Under Mourinho, Spurs were drab and defensive minded, happy to concede the ball play on the counter-attack.

That has been even more evident of late, as Spurs conceded a huge 22 shots to relegation-threatened Newcastle, before heading to Goodison Park and losing the shot count 18-12 to Everton. Everton have won the shot count in just one of their last 20 league games.

When statistically Spurs are no better off playing defence-first football, it makes you wonder why Mourinho is persisting with such a flawed style.

Kane and Son kept Mourinho in job

Had it not been for the early-season form of Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son, who helped Tottenham to the top of the table after a dozen games, Spurs might well have parted ways with Mourinho sooner.

He was under growing pressure in March 2020 when the duo were injured, and Tottenham's form fell away, but the pandemic-enforced hiatus allowed both to return for Project Restart, and fire Spurs to a top six finish.

Only in February did we write on this site about things unravelling for Mourinho, and his heavy reliance on Kane and Son.

This departure was inevitable.

Harry Kane is being linked with a Tottenham exit
CLICK TO READ: Should Harry Kane leave Tottenham?

New manager same problems?

This is now a crucial summer for Spurs. After more than 100 games of struggle in the Premier League under two of the world's most respected managers, it begs the questions - what about the players?

Spurs' best are getting older, is it the squad, not the manager, that needs a major refresh?

Then comes the added complication of potential departures. Some could well look for a new challenge in a bid to win silverware. Kane is the obvious starter, but he won't be the only one.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy will hope that he simply got this appointment wrong. Changing the manager is the most simple of solutions. And in fairness, there is evidence beyond the underlying data that suggests that could very well be the case.

Mourinho has now been sacked by three Premier League clubs, while his last two spells in England lasting less than two and a half seasons. Tactically, he increasingly looks out of step, continuing to play in the manner his success of a decade ago was built upon.

Julian Nagelsmann is the favourite to replace Jose Mourinho
CLICK TO READ: Julian Nagelsmann is the favourite to replace Jose Mourinho

The early favourite to be the next Tottenham manager is current RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann. An exciting young coach, just 33, who gets his team playing on the front foot.

The anti-Mourinho in many ways.

Next Tottenham manager odds (via Sky Bet)

  • Julian Nagelsmann - 3/1
  • Brendan Rodgers - 4/1
  • Eddie Howe - 6/1
  • Nuno Espirito Santo - 8/1
  • Rafa Benitez - 8/1
  • Jurgen Klinsmann - 12/1
  • Scott Parker - 12/1

Odds correct at 1210 BST (19/04/21)

Just as nasty, win at all costs Mourinho was a stark shift from the likeable, nice Pochettino, this would be another jerk in style.

However, with German clubs so far against signing up for a European Super League, would Naglesmann be open to the idea of joining one of the 12 clubs who have rallied the football community against them?

More from Sporting Life

Responsible gambling

We are committed in our support of responsible gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.

If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133, or visit begambleaware.org.

Further support and information can be found at GamCare and gamblingtherapy.org.

Like what you've read?


Sporting Life
Join for free!
Access to exclusive features all for FREE - No monthly subscription fee
Race Replays
My stable horse tracker
giftOffers and prize draws
newsExclusive content