NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 361
Submitted by Norman Giller
The talk in Germany is not if but when ‘wunderkind’ coach Julian Nagelsmann will take over from José Mourinho as the new boss of Tottenham Hotspur. Yesterday’s devastating defeat by Man United has hurried forward the likely appointment … and also the probable departure of ‘Our Harry’ Kane.
Suddenly, with a top four finish now looking a distant dream, the Tottenham drama has turned into a crisis. After the debacle in Zagreb, club captain Hugo Lloris sounded the alarm that there was a split camp at the Lane. The capitulation against United provided further evidence that Mourinho has lost the dressing-room.
Nagelsmann, just 33 and a young powerhouse at RB Leipzig, has made no secret of the fact he wants to follow countrymen Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel as a German manager in the Premier League.
He is a short-odds favourite with the bookmakers to take over from Mourinho, the Marmite Manager of football who is liked and loathed in equal measure. The Portuguese, a chameleon of a character, has never been fully accepted at Tottenham since taking over from the admired – adored even – Mauricio Pochettino.
Even steering the team to the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday week has not won many Tottenham fans over to Mourinho. They have never accepted his defensive style of football and what is perceived as his barely concealed arrogance.
The social media went into meltdown following the 3-1 loss to United, reported in all its grim detail here by our Spurs Odyssey guru Paul H. Smith. The targets for the on-line vitriol were Daniel Levy, Joe Lewis and, in particular, Mourinho.
I was challenged in some quarters to join the calls for Mourinho’s head, but that has never been my style. I believe in getting behind a manager and the players rather than kicking them as if they are the enemy.
But it is clear that José has failed to get his message across to many in his squad, and they are playing like passing strangers. There was more ball watching by Tottenham’s defenders yesterday than at Wimbledon, and the United players were given acres of space in which to build their attacks.
The body language of plundering partners Harry and Sonny was not good at the end and we are grabbed by the fear that they could be seeking pastures new in the summer.
We were so excited at the prospect of Son, Kane and Gareth Bale operating together as the Three Musketeers. There is a strong possibility that not one of them will be wearing a Spurs shirt next season.
Son was at the centre of a managerial spat after the match. I did not like the way he went down as if shot after Scott McTominay had caught him in the face with an outstretched hand in the build-up to a first-half Edinson Cavani goal, which referee Chris Kavanagh eventually ruled out after a VAR examination.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was fuming with Son after the game and said: “We shouldn’t be conned. If my son stayed down for three minutes and needed 10 mates to help him up, he wouldn’t get any food.”
Those comments infuriated Mourinho, who jut might have been deflecting from a defeat that probably ends Spurs’ Champions League qualification hopes. The former United boss made a weird verbal attack on the man who replaced him at Old Trafford.
Unprompted at the after-match press conference, Mourinho whined: “Let me tell you something. I’m very, very surprised that after the comments that Ole made on Sonny, you don’t ask me about it. Because – and I told Ole already this because I met him just a few minutes ago – if it’s me, telling that player A, B or C from another club, if it was my son I wouldn’t give him dinner tonight, what would be the reaction of that?
“It’s very, very sad. I think it’s really sad that you don’t ask me about that. It’s sad you don’t have the moral honestly to treat me the same way as you treat others.
“In relation to that, I just want to say that Sonny is very lucky that his father is a better per-son than Ole. I am a father. I think as a father you have always to feed your kids. Doesn’t matter what they do. If you have to steal to feed your kids, you steal.
“I’m very, very disappointed. As we say in Portugal, bread is bread and cheese is cheese. I told Ole already what I think about his comments and I’m very disappointed that in five, six, seven questions you ignore the dimensions of that comment.”
Nobody said it aloud to Mourinho, but it was clear plenty were thinking that José was up to his old mind-game tricks of trying to shift the spotlight off an appalling performance by his team.
There are now just eight matches left for Spurs to turn this season around, starting at Everton on Friday. This is what should be occupying Mourinho’s mind, not whether Sony is going to be fed …
Fri 16 Apl Everton (away, 8pm, Premier League)
Wed 21 Apl Southampton(home, 6.00, Premier League)
Sun 25 Apl Man City (Wembley, 4.30, League Cup final)
Sat 01 May Sheffield United (home, TBA, Premier League)
Sat 08 May Leeds United (away, TBA, Premier League)
Wed 12 May Wolves (home, TBA, Premier League)
Sat 15 May Aston Villa(home, TBA, Premier League)
Sun 23 May Leicester City (away, 4.00, Premier League)
Keep the faith. COYS!
The 32nd week of season seven of the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League challenge. A quick call-over: There are still more than 40 of you jostling for first place, including two-times champion David Guthrie, 2019 title holder from Down Under Graham Eyre and reigning Quiz Queen Emily Hadjinicolaou. All of you have got every question right and have each amassed a maximum 93 points. I will be “sorting you out” next month with my killer tie break challenge. Meantime, this week’s question is:
The rules are the same as in previous seasons. I ask a two-pronged question with three points at stake – two for identifying the player and one for the supplementary question. In the closing weeks of the competition I break the logjam of all-knowing Spurs-history experts with a tie-breaking poser that is based on opinion rather than fact.
This year’s prizes for the champion: a Harry Kane framed and signed photo two, books from my Greavsie collection with autographs from Jimmy Greaves, Steve Perryman and Dave Mackay, and, most important of all, a framed certificate announcing the winner as SOQL champion.
Last week’s SOQL question: Who won 17 international caps, wore the No 30 Spurs shirt, moved on to QPR and what was his nickname at Tottenham?
The answer: Sandro, the Beast, the hugely talented Brazilian who sadly suffered a power cut because of a recurring knee injury.
See you back here same time, same place next week. COYS!