Jose Mourinho‘s footballing principles were laid bare for all to see in a biography about the charismatic Portuguese published in 2014. It was not exactly exciting.
His philosophy center around seven key principles and spoke of ‘provoking errors’, ‘encouraging mistakes’ and teams being in ‘fear’ of the ball. It was ugly and negative but nobody could question the results.
The style brought success in the early stages of his managerial career and lasted for a decade across Europe. Mourinho’s team in his first spell atChelseawas dominant, he guided Inter Milan to Italian and European dominance and briefly halted Pep Guardiola’s dominance inSpainwithReal Madrid.
Jose Mourinho takes charge of his first game as Tottenham boss against West Ham on Saturday
As revealed in Diego Torres ‘book’ The Special One: The Dark Side of Jose Mourinho ‘, the seven points were:
- The game is won by the team who commits fewer errors
- Football favors whoever provokes more errors in the opposition
- Away from home, instead of trying to be superior to the opposition, it’s better to encourage their mistakes
- Whoever has the ball is more likely to make a mistake
- Whoever renounces possession reduces the possibility of making a mistake
- Whoever has the ball has fear
- Whoever does not have it is thereby stronger
That dissection of Mourinho’s philosophy paints a grim picture for Tottenham fans as he prepares for his first game in charge against West Ham on Saturday.
Throughout his career Mourinho has been a pragmatist, but can and will he change style now?
They are used to, perhaps not this season, Mauricio Pochettino’s adventurous brand of football that took the game to their opponents rather than waited for mistakes. But, during talks before his arrival in north London, Mourinho reported told the Spurs hierarchy he has developed a new philosophy in his time away from the game.
He was at pains to stress there will be no barriers to the first team for young players if they are good enough, as his time at Manchester United showed, and that the club’s work in the transfer market will be limited because of the squad in place.
The decision to cut ties with his former allies in the dugout and appoint Joao Sacramento from Lille as his assistant also hints at a change of style. Lille finished second in Ligue 1 last season, 16 points behind PSG, and their offensive play was exciting to watch.
They had pace everywhere, constructed the majority of their attacks from wide positions and had a sturdy midfield that gave support to the defense. Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe was the star of that side, scoring 22 goals in 38 league games.
The decision to appoint Joao Sacramento from Lille as his assistant hints at a change of style.
HOW DO THEY COMPARE?
* in the Premier League since 14 – 15
But, as Mourinho addressed the world media for the first time in Enfield on Friday, it didn ‘t take long for questions on tactics to come up. He promised no drastic overhaul of the system Pochettino left behind but insisted ‘you never lose your DNA’.
He said:‘I always thought these 11 months were not a waste of time, these 11 months were months to think, to analyze, take care and think about things.
‘I cannot think I can come and in four days change things. This is not about coming here and saying everything was wrong with Mauricio, not at all. I need to trust the base. They were in the hands of a good manager and a good coaching staff.
‘I am not here to make dramatic changes. I will just try to understand why in the last year the results in the Premier League were not good and how I can help them to reach again a good level. I cannot come here and think it is about my fingerprint.
At their peak, Mauricio Pochettino’s side played football to rival Liverpool and Manchester City
‘It is about the players. It will be very similar to before, that’s what I keep saying. Of course I am going to try and add details and sometimes details can make the difference.
HOW DO THEY COMPARE IN ATTACK AND DEFENSE?
Goals For: 372
Total shots: 3, 165
Total shots faced: 2,
Goals from set pieces: 100
Tackles: 3, 717
Goals For: 242
Goals Against: 144
Total shots: 2, 109
Total shots faced: 1, 642
Goals from set pieces: 61
Tackles: 2, 624
* in the Premier League since 14 – 15
‘Progressively we will arrive to a fingerprint but the style of play always has to be adapted, not just to the club culture, but also to the players’ qualities. That’s the way it is. That is why we want to do it. ‘
So where are the biggest differences and similarities between the tactical styles developed by Mourinho and Pochettino in the past few seasons?
Since the start of the 2014 – 15 Premier League season, Mourinho has taken charge of 147 games over spells with Chelsea and Manchester United while Pochettino oversaw
The Portuguese collected a win ratio of 54. 42 per cent, only narrowly behind Pochettino’s of 55 9.
One of the clearest differences in their styles comes in front of goal. Pochettino’s side scored 372 goals in 202 games, giving them an average of 1. 84 goals per game. Mourinho’s teams over those 147 games averaged just 1. 64 goals per game.
At the other end of the pitch, Mourinho’s teams conceded 0. 97 goals per game with Pochettino’s team letting in just over one goal per game (1. 01). So in terms of goals both for and against the two managers are pretty aligned, but that is where the similarities end.
Total shots is a good barometer of a team’s attacking play. Yes it includes pot shots taken from distance with very little chance of scoring but it also indicates time spent in offensive positions, how often a team opens up a defense and if a team’s tactical philosophy allows for a high frequency of attempts on goal.
In Spurs’ 202 games they had 3, 165 shots in the Premier League. That is considerably more than the 2, 109 Mourinho’s Chelsea and Manchester United teams could manage.
Spurs faced 2, 255 shots compared to the 1, 642 attempts Mourinho’s teams had against them. That implies Spurs were much more open, whereas Chelsea and United focused more on shutting down their opponents than dictating the game.
Mourinho’s teams since the start of 2014 – 15 have prioritized solidity instead of attacking flair
Tottenham, on the other hand, were easy on the eye at their peak under Pochettino
Tottenham’s pressing game forced them into making 3, 717 tackles over the course of those matches. Mourinho’s teams made 2, 624, showing they were more than happy to drop deep and wait for mistakes.
As Mourinho’s seven-point plan stated, ‘whoever has the ball is more likely to make a mistake’. That would perfectly explain his team’s possession and passing figures.
Since 14 / 15, Mourinho’s teams took 106, 551 touches of the ball while Pochettino’s Tottenham had 149, 512. Over 147 games, Mourinho’s teams attempted just 77 , 028 passes. Of those, only 64, 120 were successful.
In comparison, Pochettino’s Tottenham attempted 107, 397 passes and completed 88, 488. That gave them an average possession percentage of 59. 1 while Mourinho’s teams chalked up 55 .8 per cent of the ball per game.
Those numbers show why Mourinho may find it difficult to impose a more expansive style on his Tottenham players then. But with very little time on the training ground so far, how will he set up at the London Stadium?
HOW DO THEY COMPARE ON THE BALL?
Touches: 149, 512
Successful passes: 88, 488
Passing accuracy: (****************************************************************************. 4%
Possession: (***********************************************************************************. 1%
Touches: 106, 551
Passes: 77. 028
Successful passes: 64, 120
Passing accuracy: 83 2 %
* in the Premier League since 14 – 15
Mourinho has large ly switched between two systems in his career and both are suitable to the players he has inherited. There is the 4-3-3, which proved so successful in his first spell at Chelsea, and that allows for both attacking flair and defensive solidity. Title rivals Liverpool and Manchester City have perfected the formation.
The second, 4-2-3-1, was one he implemented at Inter Milan, Real Madrid and in his second spell at Stamford Bridge.
Defensive solidity was the priority at the San Siro and Mourinho’s impenetrable wall helped them win back to back Serie A titles and the Champions League in 2010.
Devastating counter attacks were key at the Bernabeu with Karim Benzema linking up with creative trio Angel Di Maria, Mesut Ozil and Cristiano Ronaldo to score 121 goals in 38 games as Real won La Liga in 2011 – 12 in devastating fashion.
On his return to Stamford Bridge, Mourinho planted Diego Costa as the figurehead of an attacking system that made the most of Willian, Oscar and Eden Hazard’s attacking threats.
Mourinho has shown his teams can be ruthless in attack, highlighting Real Madrid in 2011 – 12
His application of a 4-2-3-1 won Chelsea the Premier League in his second spell with Chelsea
However, it seems a return to 4-3-3 could be the most logical solution for Spurs in the short term. It makes sense given their balance in midfield, the need to protect the back four and the pace of their wingers on the break.
At West Ham on Saturday Mourinho has no option but to play Paulo Gazzaniga in goal with Hugo Lloris still recovering from his dislocated elbow. He will play behind an expected back four of Serge Aurier, Davinson Sanchez, Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose. Jan Vertonghen is also on the treatment table.
There are questions as to who will make up the midfield trio if Mourinho does opt for a 4-3-3. Eric Dier is now fit again and it is no secret the Portuguese is an admirer of the England international after trying to lure him to Old Trafford when he was at United. Harry Winks should play at the base, given his impressive recent form.
Mourinho has spoken about his desire to reboot Dele Alli’s career after a major drop in form so he could be given a chance to prove his worth. Giovanni Lo Celso, an arrival from Real Betis in the summer, has been playing well but the need for steeliness may cost him his place.
The other midfield place will be taken be either Moussa Sissoko or Tanguy Ndombele, one of very few bright spots for Spurs this season. Ndombele’s inclusion will depend on whether the former Lyon man is given the go ahead by medics.
The front three practically picks itself with Harry Kane expected to be flanked by Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min. It remains to be see what sort of role Christian Eriksen will have under his manager.
There is no doubt he is technically superb but does he fit into the mold of a Mourinho player? He does not have the physical attributes to play in the heart of midfield, nor is he quick enough to play on the wing.
There is also the caveat of his contract negotiations. Mourinho will not want to build his team on players who may not be there come the end of the season and the standoff gives Mourinho an excuse to not play the Danish ace at all.
One attractive attacking option for Mourinho is Erik Lamela. The Argentine may not boast the offensive prowess of Son or Moura but there is no doubting his work rate and defensive effort. Heaverages 1.9 tackles and 1.6 fouls per 90 minutes, proving he can be a weapon defensively, as well as going forward.
This week Mourinho admitted this could be his final job in English football. In the 15 years since he arrived on these shores there has been very little to suggest he can divert away from his pragmatic approach. Is this the time he shows he’s ready to adapt?