Jose Mourinho has been unveiled as Tottenham Hotspur’s new boss and he wasted no time making his mark in his first press conference as Spurs’ head coach.
[ MORE: Press conference in full ]
He was brash, confident and had plenty of one-liners to throw out to the media as he resembled that friend you have who is entertaining when you see them once a year, usually around the holidays.
But we will all be seeing a lot more of Jose in the coming weeks and months…
Mourinho, 56, addressed a pack press conference room at Spurs’ training ground on Thursday and was happy throughout as he smiled and joked about returning to the Premier League.
During the lengthy press conference, where he discussed many topics including praise for Mauricio Pochettino, lavishing praise on the current Spurs squad and saying he is humble and has learned a lot in the past 11 months since he was fired by Manchester United, Mourinho was asked if Tottenham can win the title.
“We cannot win the Premier League this year. I am not saying we will do, but we can win it next year,” Mourinho said. “If we win titles it will not be because of me. It will because of the club’s work. It will be because of the vision and plan of the whole club. The stadium is part of the vision, the training ground is part of the vision, keeping the best players is part of the vision. To refuse to let the best players go is part of the vision too. Maybe to have a manager with my experience is also part of the vision. If we win the title, doesn’t matter when, if we win a title during my period it will not be because of myself. It is just the natural consequence of the vision and the plan.”
That is a huge statement for a team which hasn’t won the league title since 1961 and are currently so far behind title chasing Liverpool and Man City, let alone Chelsea, Leicester City, Arsenal and Man United.
But with Spurs’ phenomenal new stadium, training ground and a plethora of world-class players at his disposal, maybe Mourinho is right to be confident that the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League runners up can be in the PL title hunt next season, as he admitted he doesn’t need to change that much from the team Mauricio Pochettino built.
“I don’t want to make big changes, I want to respect the base and the work that they did for five-and-a-half years, not two days,” Mourinho said. “We hope that is an update, it is not a change. The base is what they did before. This is not about me and not for me to come and say ‘everything was wrong with Mauricio’, not at all. It is to try and understand why results in the Premier League were not good and to try and reach a good level again. The players are very good and I’m not here to make dramatic changes.”
Mourinho seems hungry, rejuvenated and ready to sink his teeth into the job at Spurs, and he is no doubt in his favorite role as the underdog in comparison to Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City in the title race.
But there’s a lot of work to be done between now and any potential title bid, as they sit 14th in the Premier League table, without an away win in the league since January and 11 points off the top four.
After praising the squad of players he has at his disposal and insisting he doesn’t need to spend in January, Mourinho is unsure whether the likes of Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose will stick around as they continue to run down their contracts.
“I’ve had no time to look at individual cases,” Mourinho said. “The first thing for me is for the players to feel good and if they are going to leave in January or June or sign a new contract I think all of that based on feeling good and to feel good is to be ready and available on Saturday. Jan cannot do that because of injury. But they have to be ready for the team. Then it is about the club, it is about them, it is about me, it is about Mr Levy but fundamentally it is about the players being happy. You have to choose what makes you happy but at this moment we have to look at the short term and we have to try and get two good results in the next two matches.”
Those next two matches come at West Ham on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and then a crucial UEFA Champions League group game against Olympiakos at home next Tuesday.
If Mourinho gets off to a flier, Tottenham will have momentum and when the Special One has that and he’s happy, the rest of the PL will be wary.