Wed | Dec 11, 2019

Mourinho promises to bring passion to Spurs

Published:Thursday | November 21, 2019 | 12:27 AM
Mourinho
Mourinho

LONDON (AP):

Ousted from his last two jobs for fomenting friction, Jose Mourinho is returning to coaching, trying to show he is rejuvenated with the smile back.

Will Tottenham be getting a mellowed manager, rather than the one who stoked internal feuds at Chelsea and Manchester United?

Mourinho’s exile from management ended after being appointed on Wednesday by Tottenham within 12 hours of the announcement of Mauricio Pochettino’s firing.

“I couldn’t be happier and look forward to the challenge,” Mourinho said in a video released by Tottenham. “What can I promise? Passion, real passion.

“Passion for my job, but also passion for my club, that’s the way I have been all my career and I want to try, obviously, everything to bring happiness to everyone who loves the club.”

Mourinho has always delivered happiness in the form of trophies and title successes. But several of his stints have also seen the atmosphere around the team sour as his relationship broke down with club officials, players and even fans.

There was the “palpable discord” that ­curtailed Mourinho’s second spell at Chelsea in December 2015.

A turbulent 2 1/2-year spell followed at Manchester United that ended in December 2018, when the club got tired of the volatile coach constantly picking fights and ­criticising his own players as the team struggled.

But he won three Premier League titles during his two spells at Chelsea, and lifted the Europa League as the highlight of his time in Manchester.

He now arrives at a club without a track record of winning titles, with no trophy lifted since the 2008 League Cup.

While Pochettino transformed Tottenham, achieving an unprecedented four consecutive Champions League qualifications as the team rose in status, a trophy eluded the Argentine during his 5 1/2-year stint.

He led the club to its first Champions League final last season, only to lose to Liverpool. Rather than being a springboard for a sustained challenge in the Premier League to deliver Tottenham’s first championship since 1961, Pochettino sounded increasingly unsettled.

Mourinho takes charge of Tottenham for the first time on Saturday at West Ham with the team 14th in the Premier League after 12 games, 11 points off the four Champions League qualification positions where Tottenham grew accustomed to finishing under Pochettino.

Since leaving Porto for Chelsea in 2004, Mourinho has always worked at clubs with big budgets, so Tottenham are not necessarily a natural fit.

Pochettino had to battle against the biggest teams in Europe while working with strict financial constraints, particularly as Tottenham prepared to move into their new stadium last season.

Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy, who said Tuesday that he fired Pochettino “extremely reluctantly,” said he believed Mourinho “will bring energy and belief” back to the club.

“He has a wealth of experience,” Levy said, “can inspire teams, and is a great tactician.”