Will the Not-So-Special One make Spurs less Spursy? Ask a passerby

TV View: José Mourinho’s arrival at Tottenham was hardly edge-of-your-seat telly

José Mourinho and  Mauricio Pochettino during a Premier League match between Manchester United and Tottenham at Old Trafford in August 2018. Photograph:  Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

José Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino during a Premier League match between Manchester United and Tottenham at Old Trafford in August 2018. Photograph: Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

 

It’s on days like Wednesday that you most appreciate the efforts of the oft-maligned Sky Sports News people when they only have one story of any note to cover, so have to squeeze the bejaysus out it for 24 hours – even though the story never actually moves on from the headline. War correspondents don’t know how easy they have it.

To help fill the time SSN, as we know, deploy reporters armed with big fluffy microphones to locations where something might happen, so, not unreasonably, Kaveh Solhekol was sent to Spurs’ training ground at seven that morning, just a speedy 31 minutes after José Mourinho had been appointed as Mauricio Pochettino’s successor.

The money shot, of course, would have been to capture a waving José arriving at the ground in an impossibly large SUV driven by a retired member of the SAS, a clip SSN could then have played on a loop through the day to pass some time. But a despairing Kaveh had some bad news: the SSN crew had missed José’s arrival because he’d got to the ground just the six hours before.

“Yes, at one o’clock in the morning,” said Kaveh, nearly spitting it out.

Why had he arrived that early?

“Well, I know it sounds crazy, but there is some thinking behind it,” he said. “One of the reasons was to beat the traffic in central London. He lives in Chelsea, it would have taken him two hours to do that journey during rush hour.”

Beat the traffic

It’s good, of course, to beat the rush hour traffic, but by six hours? You feared that the retired member of the SAS was facing retirement again.

Any other news? “Well, the Spurs players arrived at the training ground around lunchtime. They got changed in to their training kits. At the moment they’re training.”

Still reeling from that revelation, we were then taken to Spurs’ stadium where SSN’s Michael Bridge was to be found loitering outside, attempting to nab passersby for a word about the big news, even if some of them might not have known the Special One from a tin of beans and were just rushing to catch a bus.

Troy Parrott: Our national fear is that Nemanja Matic is more likely to play first-team football for Spurs than our Troy, now that José’s the gaffer. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Troy Parrott: Our national fear is that Nemanja Matic is more likely to play first-team football for Spurs than our Troy, now that José’s the gaffer. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
In Ireland, though, we only had one concern: “WHAT ABOUT TROY PARROTT?!”

Happily, though, Michael managed to find a man called Ian who was indeed a Spurs fan and, while despondent-ish about Mauricio’s departure, was all a-tizz about José replacing him. “The only fing Poch won at Tottenham was ’earts,” he said. “We need cups. BIG cups. Then we can put the flash back into Tottenham!”

So he was happy for Spurs to be dull to watch but to actually win things. But then he changed his mind.

“José, if you’re listening, keep the flash!”

And with that he was on his way, leaving Michael confused. And maybe José too if he was watching (he had 12 hours to kill before training, after all).

Grinch for Christmas

So then, the least Spursy appointment of all time, like putting the Grinch in charge of Christmas, but one that appeared to put a smile on the bulk of the supporters’ faces that popped up on SSN all day. Although talk about José making Nemanja Matic his first signing in January would have resulted in the colour draining from those faces.

In Ireland, though, we only had one concern: “WHAT ABOUT TROY PARROTT?!”

Our national fear being that Matic is more likely to play first-team football for Spurs than our Troy, now that José’s the gaffer.

José has, of course, tried to dispel the notion that he is “the monster that kills the little kids”, once issuing, through Manchester United, a list of 55 players he claimed he had promoted from club academies to first-team football during his managerial career. The Guardian dissected the list and noted he was having a laugh regarding a bunch of them, not least Arjen Robben who, it reminded us, “had played 127 matches for FC Groningen and PSV Eindhoven, and been one of Holland’s best players at Euro 2004, before moving to Stamford Bridge”. Newsie fakery, then.

As Brian Kerr said of him yesterday on Virgin Media, “he’s a bit of a gouger, isn’t he?”

José Mourinho has become the millionaire’s Sam Allardyce – the go-to person when they can’t think of anyone else

But, if José can make Spurs less Spursy, then it might well work out. Remember that story Roy Keane told about being in the dressing room ahead of a game against them?

“We didn’t need a big team talk. It was Tottenham at home. I thought, ‘Please don’t go on about Tottenham, we all know what Tottenham is about, they are nice and tidy but we’ll f***ing do them.’ Ferguson came in and said, ‘Lads, it’s Tottenham,’ and that was it.”

End in tears

It will, inevitably, end in tears, as all football relationships generally do, but if, in the meantime, José forces opposing gaffers to come up with more than ‘Lads, it’s Tottenham,’ then who knows, the intervening spell might just prove fruitful.

Some, of course, have their doubts. Like the writer Tim Rich.

“José Mourinho has become the millionaire’s Sam Allardyce – the go-to person when they can’t think of anyone else.”

And then there was Stan Collymore.

“Amazing how some have bought into ‘Mourinho the winner’ without any regard for how he leaves clubs. Unbalanced, fractured, overspending, soulless. Everything Spurs tried to avoid. Good luck. I like Spurs a lot, but it’s not how this man comes in, it’s how he’ll leave you.”

And, let’s not forget, he bought Fred.

On the up side, it can’t be much more stultifying than his last managerial outing when it was all whine and no wit, when his team was as much fun to watch as a hernia operation, when he became as tedious as the football they played, when he sulked his way through a tenure largely devoted to denuding his youngsters of any of the confidence they ever possessed, and when he raged against the dying of his not-so-special light.

Apart from that, it went well.

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