Jose Mourinho isn’t a spent force at the top level in Europe, but his doubters and critics are growing in number after Tottenham Hotspur tumbled out of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night.
Mourinho’s team were beaten 3-0 away by RB Leipzig in the second leg of their last-16 clash. It added another setback for his bid to restore his reputation following being sacked by Manchester United in December 2018.
Those attempts haven’t been helped by another exit from the round of 16, albeit one prompted as much by key injuries and the struggles of Hugo Lloris. Even so, it’s still the same fate Mourinho and United suffered at the hands of Sevilla two years ago.
One more defeat, coupled with Spurs losing their last chance to win a trophy this season, is only going to increase the questions about whether or not Mourinho has lost it. They are valid questions, even if circumstances have been doing the 57-year-old few favours. Since winning the treble with Inter Milan in 2010, Mourinho has left Real Madrid, Chelsea and United under a cloud.
Any success he brought to those clubs was often marred by the backlash to some of his actions. The public criticism of club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele had worrying echoes of Mourinho eroding the loyalty of his players at other clubs.
History appears to be repeating itself in more ways than one at Tottenham, with Mourinho on a historically woeful run:
6 – José Mourinho is winless in six matches in all competitions (D2 L4) – the longest winless run of his entire managerial career, with tonight being his 935th match. Spiral. pic.twitter.com/Jh4AmBNhqb— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 10, 2020
Of course, any manager would struggle after losing as many goal threats as Mourinho has recently. Kane and Heung-Min Son both remain sidelined, robbing Spurs of their two premier strikers.
Some help arrived in January, in the form of Steven Bergwijn, but the former PSV Eindhoven forward has now been ruled out for an “extended period” with an ankle problem, per BBC Sport.
Mourinho hasn’t exactly been dealt the best hand, but his responses to the growing casualty list have appeared increasingly negative. Rather than finding new sources for goals, maybe even by trusting 18-year-old academy graduate Troy Parrott, Mourinho’s solutions have appeared to be more about not losing than winning.
The decision to play five centre-backs for Saturday’s 1-1 draw away to Burnley sent a clear message about attacking intent or the lack thereof. Any manager looks good with a full contingent of star players at his disposal. The true tests come when alternatives are needed, when tactical adjustments can make the difference and help overcome superior opposition.
Mourinho’s credentials in this area are being seriously questioned for the first time in his career. How he answers will go a long way toward determining his longevity at the top level.
Watch Glenn Hoddle have his say on the Portuguese manager
“As a Spurs fan in my heart I wondered, ‘has he lost his mojo?'” 🤔@GlennHoddle takes a deep look at Mourinho’s tenure at the club, the adaptation of recent signings and how a Tottenham rebuild could look…— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 11, 2020
A must watch for all Tottenham fans. pic.twitter.com/HWB8LqnSF2