Jose Mourinho might have turned up to his first press conference as Tottenham manager dressed as Tim Sherwood, the gilet a subtle homage to one of football’s most banterous managers of modern times, but he left it with the prospect of emulating the great Bill Nicholson hanging tantalisingly in the air.
Nicholson is the only Tottenham manager to have ever delivered a league title, in 1961, but according to Mourinho, catching up with two of the greatest ever Premier League sides might be achievable next season for Spurs. If his appointment hasn’t been viewed with universal optimism amongst Tottenham fans, raising the prospect of actually winning something for once might grant him a little breathing space. Maybe.
“We cannot win the Premier League this season,” said Mourinho. “We can – I’m not saying we will – we can win it next season.”
It was, just as you might expect from the man who once declared himself ‘a Special One’, a very polished introduction. Mourinho has made that a calling card in his career. From his egotistical yet brilliant arrival at Chelsea in 2004 to his return to England, when he spun the line that he was now “the happy one” - a conceit which didn’t take too long to collapse.
Yesterday, he was the humble one, as he gave the audience exactly the image they hoped to see: a man who acknowledged he made many mistakes at Manchester United and had learned from them - not that he would say what they were.
‘I am humble,’ says Mourinho at first Tottenham news conference
“I realised I made mistakes,” he said. “I'm not going to make the same mistakes. I'll make new mistakes - but not the same. I am humble. Humble enough to try and analyse my career - not just the last year, but the whole thing, the evolution, the problems and the solutions. Not to blame anyone else.
"It was a great thing. I went really deep with that analysis. A break was very positive for me. It was the first summer I did not work and I felt a little bit at a loss during that pre-season. I was always humble, in my way. The problem is you didn't understand that."
Jose's quick response when asked about broken Chelsea promise
This was the Mourinho the man himself wanted to portray: recalcitrant, open, learning, still with a flash of cheekiness. Not, effectively, the man who razed his relationships with major players at United to the ground and constantly moaned about a lack of support when it came to transfers, before his underwhelming reign was finally ended in a cloud of bitter regret.
Mourinho always talks a good talk when the situation demands - and yesterday was no different. Was he genuine? Has the leopard really changed his spots? The evidence will start building on Saturday when Spurs take on West Ham in the early kick-off.
The inevitable Zlatan link emerges
Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates at the end of the match with Jose Mourinho
Image credit: Reuters
Yesterday, one of The Warm-Up’s colleagues idly speculated about putting £1,000 on Zlatan Ibrahimovic joining Tottenham in January, so obvious was it that he was the first type of player Mourinho would be looking to bring into a Tottenham squad starved of success, and light on strikers.
Lo and behold, whose face is plastered over the Telegraph this morning? The grown man who thinks he is a lion.
Mourinho signed Ibrahimovic, also on a free transfer, for Manchester United in 2016, with the Swede scoring 26 goals in 46 appearances before a serious knee threatened to end his career. Ibrahimovic left United in March 2018 but maintains a strong relationship with Mourinho, who first worked with him at Inter Milan and values his professionalism and winning mentality.
To be honest, The Warm-Up is here for this, purely for the withering departure message Zlatan drops on social media after scoring five goals in 26 appearances during an injury-hit 18 months.
Lille bristle at coach poach
Lille head coach Christophe GALTIER during the Ligue 1 match between Lille and Metz at Stade Pierre Mauroy on November 9, 2019 in Lille, France.
Image credit: Getty Images
In other predictable news, Mourinho is already putting some noses out of joint. The make-up of his back-room staff was a minor surprise with assistant manager Joao Sacramento and goalkeeping coach Nuno Santos being poached from Lille, much to the unhappiness of head coach Christophe Galtier.
“Everyone has their own way of doing things,” he said, before lacing his comments with more sarcasm than a Blackadder episode. “But it's really classy. Really classy to act like that."
The background here is that Spurs are rumoured to be interested in taking Lille sporting director Luis Campos to set up a similar role in North London. Campos was previously Mourinho’s assistant at Real Madrid. Not that Galtier appears concerned about losing him.
“Luis is 200% invested in the project and I don't see a 1000th of a wish to look elsewhere,” GaltIer said. “We're close and looking forward."
Unless, of course, he was being sarcastic.
IN OTHER NEWS
Before leaving Tottenham for one final time, and before seeing his legacy eradicated by Mourinho, Mauricio Pochettino found one last moment to write a farewell message to players and staff.
Incidentally, this almost exactly mirrors what happens when each contestant on Ru Paul’s Drag Race is kicked out.
Mauricio, you won our hearts. Now, sashay away...
IN THE CHANNELS
Ousmane Dembele has skills.
He is no less a master of his craft than Pirlo or Bergkamp; his craft just takes a different form. His inspiration is not the pursuit of beauty or some quixotic search for perfection. It is the collection of memories: the two Premier League titles, the Europa League, the World Cup. It is the photos afterward that remind him that all the toil and struggle, all the fetching and retrieving, was worth it. 'The biggest satisfaction of all,' he said, 'is to win.'
Rory Smith meets N’Golo Kante for the New York Times, and manages to find a new angle on one of the most eulogised players in football.
It's a London derby in The Championship tonight as Fulham take on QPR - remember to watch highlights of that, and all the EFL action, on Quest on Saturday evening.
And for the tennis heads out there, Great Britain's Davis Cup quarter-final against Germany is live and exclusive on Eurosport 1 from 4:30pm!
Marcus Foley is still utterly delighted by the appointment of Jose Mourinho and can't wait to tell you all about it on Monday.