SEC­OND CHOICE

Spurs wanted Rodgers be­fore se­cur­ing Jose on £15m-a-year deal

Scottish Daily Mail - - Return Of The Special One - By SAMI MOKBEL

TOT­TEN­HAM only turned to Jose Mour­inho af­ter ex­plor­ing a move to lure Bren­dan Rodgers away from Le­ices­ter City.

Sports­mail un­der­stands they wanted the for­mer Celtic boss to re­place Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino, but, as soon as it be­came ap­par­ent that snatch­ing him from the Foxes was vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble, their main fo­cus switched to se­cur­ing the Por­tuguese.

Spurs con­firmed the ap­point­ment of Mour­inho on a £15mil­lion-a-year con­tract — nearly twice his pre­de­ces­sor’s £8.5m deal — early yes­ter­day

The next level. It is what ev­ery club is search­ing for, ap­par­ently. A man­ager, an owner, a player who will take them to the next level. At some clubs, it is hard to gauge. At others, unattain­able.

At Tot­ten­ham, the next level is easy to iden­tify. Win a tro­phy. So they have brought in a man­ager who does that reg­u­larly.

To lis­ten to some of the re­ac­tions to news of Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino’s re­place­ment, one might be for­given for think­ing Daniel Levy had popped down to hades and handed a con­tract, or his soul, to the Prince of Dark­ness.

Jose Mour­inho, one of the most suc­cess­ful man­agers of this, or any, gen­er­a­tion, is un­recog­nis­able in these por­traits. So are his most re­cent tenures at Chelsea and Manch­ester United. They ended badly and bit­terly, we know.

Yet the sup­pos­edly lousy spell at Chelsea in­cluded two tro­phies — the Premier League ti­tle and the League Cup. One imag­ines Spurs would set­tle for that.

equally, his woe­ful pe­riod with Manch­ester United pro­duced only three — the europa League, the League Cup and the Com­mu­nity Shield, the lat­ter of which no­body con­sid­ered a se­ri­ous prize in this coun­try un­til Mour­inho started play­ing it for keeps. And that, as much as any­thing, shows the man. he is about the end re­turn, the bot­tom line.

And now Tot­ten­ham are, too. This is the next level. Mour­inho is not a man­ager who wishes to be judged in five years.

he proved as much yes­ter­day. he won’t take a few days to ob­serve, he won’t sit in the di­rec­tors’ box at the Lon­don Sta­dium tak­ing stock when Tot­ten­ham play West ham.

he took train­ing yes­ter­day, he will pick the XI for Satur­day, he will de­ter­mine how they play and he will stand, ex­posed, on the touch­line again. his team, his re­spon­si­bil­ity. And his win, if it hap­pens — Tot­ten­ham’s first away from home against cur­rent Premier League op­po­si­tion since De­cem­ber 23, 2018.

That is why the Tot­ten­ham po­si­tion holds such ap­peal. Mour­inho will not have been alone in look­ing at Po­chet­tino’s squad and think­ing more could be done.

Much is made of Spurs’ in­vest­ment com­pared to their ri­vals and, in that re­spect, Po­chet­tino did an out­stand­ing job. Yet that does not take into ac­count the play­ers pro­duced through the academy or bought early and cheap.

Just be­cause harry Kane, Dele Alli, Danny Rose, eric Dier, Oliver Skipp, Kyle Walker-Peters and Ben Davies did not cost tens of mil­lions does not mean they are with­out worth.

Put it like this — Romelu Lukaku set Manch­ester United back £75mil­lion, Kane cost Tot­ten­ham noth­ing. But that does not re­flect the po­ten­tial of those play­ers. Ac­tu­ally, Tot­ten­ham have a striker worth twice, per­haps three times as much as Lukaku. In­deed, Kane is prob­a­bly the most valu­able striker in Bri­tain right now.

Yet, Tot­ten­ham are ex­cused a tro­phy drought stretch­ing back to 2008 be­cause of un­der-in­vest­ment, a judg­ment that con­sid­ers only what they have bought, not what they have.

At full strength, Tot­ten­ham could put out a team that in­cluded hugo Lloris, Serge Aurier, Toby Alder­weireld, Jan Ver­tonghen, Rose, Moussa Sis­soko, harry Winks, Alli, Chris­tian erik­sen, Son he­ung-min and Kane. The back-up would in­clude Davin­son Sanchez, Lu­cas Moura, Davies, erik Lamela, Gio­vani Lo Celso, Dier and Tan­guy Ndombele.

It does not fol­low that one tro­phy at

Tot­ten­ham is worth 10 else­where, as Po­chet­tino main­tained. That is an ex­cel­lent squad. It should be a tro­phy­win­ning squad.

So while Tot­ten­ham over-achieved in terms of spend­ing, they fell short at cer­tain mo­ments, con­sid­er­ing the tal­ent avail­able. Mour­inho will think he can ad­dress that. Levy will de­mand it. That’s why he’s pay­ing the money.

Trans­fer bud­get money? Well, that’s another po­ten­tial source of con­flict, it seems. If Levy thought Po­chet­tino was de­mand­ing, wait un­til he sees Mour­inho’s shop­ping list — that is the party line. Yet, this pre­sumes Mour­inho is a fool who hasn’t been pay­ing at­ten­tion to the club he now man­ages.

It pre­sumes he wants to burn the last bridge, to undo his rep­u­ta­tion in english foot­ball be­fore leav­ing the coun­try. This is a man who once abruptly walked out of a press con­fer­ence at Manch­ester United de­mand­ing ‘re­spect, re­spect, re­spect!’ for his achieve­ments at Chelsea.

he was wrong that day. No­body at Manch­ester United cares about the man­ager’s his­tory at Stam­ford Bridge, yet it is plain that legacy mat­ters to him. And noth­ing would harm that legacy more than a third straight ma­jor job soured and spite­ful by the end.

One hopes Levy has told Mour­inho the truth about what can be ex­pected fi­nan­cially and that the man­ager un­der­stands the lim­i­ta­tions of his new club in its ex­pen­sively-con­structed sta­dium.

Maybe it needs Levy to ex­pand on the re­al­ity pub­licly, too, so ev­ery­one is clear. If he wishes to con­trol re­cruit­ment as much as has been sug­gested by pre­vi­ous man­agers, he needs to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for that. Does Mour­inho re­quire a cheque­book to suc­ceed? Not nec­es­sar­ily. his record shows a fancy for big spend­ing and wealthy own­ers, but not all of his great­est achieve­ments have come that way. Porto were not con­sid­ered one of the Cham­pi­ons League elite when he won the tro­phy with them in 2004, nor In­ter Mi­lan in 2010.

Sim­i­larly, Chelsea’s league ti­tle in 2015 came at a time when Manch­ester City were ex­pected to dom­i­nate. As for the ar­gu­ment that any­one could win the league with Ro­man Abramovich’s money, it begs the ques­tion about the six full-time man­agers — not in­clud­ing Frank Lam­pard, ob­vi­ously — who had it and didn’t.

Mour­inho has won more Premier League ti­tles at Chelsea than all of Abramovich’s other man­agers put to­gether.

his record doesn’t mean it can­not go wrong, of course. The RFU ap­pointed a proven win­ner in eddie Jones and eng­land are no­tice­ably not rugby’s world cham­pi­ons. even if Mour­inho gets the best out of Tot­ten­ham, there is still at least one team, prob­a­bly two, who have the beat­ing of them and his mis­sion is to find a way to work around that.

Yet, not all vic­to­ries in­volve de­feat­ing the best. On April 21, 2018, Tot­ten­ham played Manch­ester United in an FA Cup semi-final. This was not a vintage United team. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling were cen­tre-backs, the jury was very much out on Alexis Sanchez, Tot­ten­ham were at full strength and much fan­cied.

United won 2-1. It was another of those days when Tot­ten­ham should have, but didn’t.

Levy wants a man who can and who has. The man who was, co­in­ci­den­tally, in charge of United that day. Levy wants his tro­phy. So, while this might not be a match made in heaven, it is surely one that can be un­der­stood.

Pur­ple reign: Mour­inho at Spurs train­ing yes­ter­day

New era: Mour­inho chats to Harry Kane dur­ing his open­ing train­ing ses­sion

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