Tottenham's new mentality under Jose Mourinho
Winning, no matter how, is all that matters for a reprogrammed Spurs side under Mourinho.
Style over substance has never been Jose Mourinho’s thing.
At the elite level of football, winning is what matters. Even when his teams do not play well, or with any particular flourish or finesse, Mourinho’s teams can still find a way to win.
The edge that Mourinho has carried at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Manchester United, is now being instilled at Tottenham, where the manager wants an unapologetic winning mentality.
Which came to the fore in the FA Cup replay against Southampton, down 2-1 before a big finish claimed a 3-2 win and a place in the fifth round:
The best team lost. They were better than us. They were stronger physically than us. They were faster than us. But, I cannot forget all the other circumstances and my players, they were phenomenal and they gave absolutely everything. So, I think the best team lost, but we deserved to win.
That was the type of performance Mourinho would have - and has always - relished: against the odds, backs to the wall, substance over style.
I had to manage this chess game without pieces. No bishops, no kings, no queens. Very, very hard with some many injuries and problems.
The absence of injured Harry Kane would hurt any team, and the lead striker has missed the past eight games in all competitions and may not return this season. That may have been reflected in Tottenham’s performances, but not necessarily results, over the past month or so.
In Mourinho’s first five Premier League games as boss, Tottenham gained 12 points, the same amount for the next eight, also scoring six fewer goals.
So the win over Southampton could be considered a significant moment of the Mourinho tenure, coming just days after beating Manchester City 2-0 in the Premier League.
That win bumped Tottenham to fifth on the Premier League table going into a brief winter break that might help ease mounting injury concerns:
I cannot speak about the progression that I wanted because I don't have the players that I want and the team needs players to progress. It's very difficult to progress when one game you have player A, B and C out and the next game you have player D, E and F out. Very difficult season. Very, very difficult season.
It is a narrative that suits the Mourinho way of building an us-against-them scenario, so the Tottenham players start to develop the Mourinho edge, as midfielder Harry Winks explains:
That is exactly what we need now. We don't need to be performing really well and losing games. We need to just win. As long as we come away with results, that is the most important thing, and we are.
Style over substance has never been Mourinho’s thing and he produced results at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Manchester United.
That process is well underway at Tottenham, where Jose Mourinho wants an unapologetic winning mentality.