SPECIAL REPORT: How joker Jose Mourinho has got Spurs smiling again with training tweaks after replacing cranky Mauricio Pochettino… and he’s leaning on Harry Kane to get his team going
- Eight days in and Jose Mourinho is already having the desired impact at Spurs
- His arrival has injected an exuberance into training that had largely disappeared
- Ex-Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino had become distant by the end of his tenure
- Tapping into Harry Kane’s knowledge, however, appears the shrewdest move
Eight days in and Jose Mourinho is already having the desired impact at Tottenham.
Two wins from two games and all of a sudden there’s a bounce in the players’ step that wasn’t apparent during Mauricio Pochettino’s gloomy final weeks in charge.
So, what has changed? Sportsmail takes a look.
Eight days in and manager Jose Mourinho is already having the desired impact at Tottenham
The players felt Pochettino’s sessions had become stale. Five and a half years in, that’s understandable. The vast majority of the squad love Pochettino — indeed players and staff remain in contact with the sacked boss more than a week on from his departure.
Yet there was an inescapable feeling it was time for a change. Training had become mundane, almost soulless and poor results were a by-product of that apathy. Mourinho’s arrival has injected an exuberance into training that had largely disappeared.
‘There’s more of an edge to training,’ said one source. That’s not to say Mourinho is flogging his players. Tightening up Spurs’ defence is a key priority of Mourinho’s and focusing on how they defend in all areas of the pitch has formed a bigger part of their match preparations.
The Special One’s sessions are significantly less intense than the ones under Pochettino’s energy-sapping regime. There’s also been a greater emphasis on recovery, particularly given Spurs’ hectic schedule. The impression is the players are happy with that.
Mourinho’s arrival has injected an exuberance into training that had largely disappeared
One of Mourinho’s first instructions was for his players to become more streetwise.
The Portuguese has emphasised the need to have a calculated approach to games and believes a small shift in attitude can turn the club — without a trophy for almost 12 years — into winners.
During Tuesday night’s win over Olympiacos, the message appeared to be getting through, even to the ballboys. Tottenham’s equaliser in the 4-2 win stemmed from the quick thinking of a ballboy who spotted the opportunity for a quick attack and threw the ball to Serge Aurier. Seconds later, Harry Kane was ramming home from close range. It was the sort of cunning Mourinho is trying to instil into his players.
Jose Mourinho thanked a ballboy for the part that he played in Harry Kane’s goal on Tuesday
HANDS-ON AND HAPPY
Pochettino had become distant by the end of his tenure — rarely taking sessions, preferring to watch from inside the training ground canteen. Pochettino had become disengaged and the players saw it. By the end of the Argentine’s rule, Tottenham’s Enfield HQ had become a rather miserable place to work, made worse by Pochettino’s crankiness.
Mourinho’s arrival has, for the time being, brightened up the place. He is fully involved in training sessions and the players have latched on to his enthusiasm.
He has shared jokes with players and staff at their training complex as he tries to lighten the mood.
Regular individual chats with his players have also encouraged a squad who appeared to be going through the motions. New assistant head coach Joao Sacramento’s sessions are said to be refreshing and engaging — the club’s winning start under Mourinho backs up that renewed vigour. Of course, time will tell if the cheeriness continues.
Former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino had become disengaged and the players saw it
TRUST ME … AND YOU’LL BECOME WINNERS
In his first address to the squad at around 2pm last Wednesday, Mourinho’s message was crystal clear. ‘Believe in me and we’ll become winners,’ was the crux. In essence, that’s all Tottenham players really want — to be successful.
Mourinho was said to have been careful not to disrespect the players’ achievements during Pochettino’s reign — but was straightforward in telling them that glory would finally be theirs if they trusted him.
Players — including Harry Kane — are sick of the ‘nearly men’ tag. In Mourinho, they see a manager who is a proven winner. He has 20 career titles and that isn’t to be sniffed at, particularly at a club that has not lifted a trophy since the 2008 League Cup. The club’s first target is to propel themselves back into top-four contention, an achievement Mourinho told his players last Wednesday is entirely achievable.
Mourinho’s message was crystal clear: ‘Believe in me and we’ll become winners,’ was the crux
LEANING ON KANE
Mourinho has had several one-on-one talks with the England captain — who is skippering Spurs in the absence of the injured Hugo Lloris — in his effort to hit the ground running.
Speaking after the win over Olympiacos, Kane revealed: ‘It’s early days. We have a good relationship so far. We talk, we try to help the team.
‘Obviously, me being one of the leaders in the team, he looks to me for feelings and advice on the team. When you are winning games, it definitely helps your relationship. Hopefully we can build a strong relationship.’
Mourinho has also held regular chats with Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Winks.
Tapping into Kane’s knowledge, however, appears the shrewdest move given fears inside the club that their prolific goalscorer may become agitated if Spurs’ trophy drought stretches into yet another season.
Former Man United boss Mourinho is leaning on Spurs star Harry Kane (R) to get his side going
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