EPL

Mourinho at Tottenham: Progress under Jose takes Spurs within sight of top spot

By Sports Desk November 20, 2020

Jose Mourinho is celebrating a year in charge of Tottenham as he prepares for a return to Premier League action. 

The former Chelsea and Manchester United boss was appointed Spurs head coach after Mauricio Pochettino's previously successful stint came to a disappointing end. 

Tottenham were 14th when Mourinho arrived but could now go top of the table this weekend as they host Manchester City. 

Victory against Pep Guardiola's side would cap a fine 12 months for Jose, as demonstrated with the use of Opta data. 


IMPROVING ON POCH

Tottenham finished sixth last season, leaving Mourinho to celebrate a place in Europa League qualifying on the final day. 

Spurs had reached the Champions League final the previous season, but securing European football of any sort was a success for Mourinho given their perilous position when he arrived.

Indeed, since his appointment, Tottenham rank third in the Premier League - behind only Liverpool and Manchester City. 

Spurs have taken 62 points from 34 games over this span, with their league win rate of 53 per cent marginally above Mourinho's overall mark. 

The Portuguese has won 52 per cent of his 50 Tottenham games in all competitions (26 victories), showing improvement from Pochettino's final half-century of matches. 

Pochettino triumphed in 22 of the 50 fixtures prior to his sacking but lost a hugely concerning 19. Mourinho's side have also scored slightly more (94 versus 89) and conceded one fewer (61 versus 62).
 

PROGRESS THIS TERM

If Mourinho's overall record shows only marginal gains so far, there is at least cause for encouragement for Spurs fans early this season. 

Tottenham began the new Premier League campaign by losing at home to Everton and subsequently dropped points in stoppage time against Newcastle United and West Ham. 

But Mourinho's squad are second, a point behind leaders Leicester City, and the style and effectiveness of their play has altered for the better.

In eight league games this term, Spurs are averaging 55.4 per cent of possession, an increase from 50 per cent in Mourinho's 24 matches in 2019-20. 

Crucially, they are also using the ball more effectively and creating more chances. Tottenham have had 13.9 shots per game in the new campaign, with 9.6 from inside the box - compared to 11.3 and 7.2 last season. 

The quality of these opportunities has improved too, with Spurs expected to score 1.95 goals per game - up from 1.33 - and converting 17.1 per cent of their attempts. 

Mourinho has, of course, benefited from the outstanding form of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. Kane has been involved in 38 goals (27 scored, 11 assisted) and Son in 33 (20 scored, 13 assisted) during his reign. 
 

NO SPURS STANDOUT

For all the talk of a title tilt this season, Mourinho is not yet comparing favourably to his predecessors. 

His record might represent an improvement on the end of Pochettino's tenure, but the former Southampton boss finished his Tottenham career averaging 1.89 points per game across 202 Premier League matches.

Mourinho's rate of 1.82 points per game also trails Andre-Villas Boas (1.83) and Tim Sherwood, who finished with an outstanding mark of 1.91 from his 22 games. 

The last Spurs manager to oversee 20 or more Premier League matches and average fewer points than Mourinho was Harry Redknapp. 

He guided Tottenham away from relegation trouble and into the Champions League, picking up 1.74 points per game.

Related items

  • Wellington Phoenix 1-2 Newcastle Jets: O'Donovan reaches landmark as Newcastle win at last Wellington Phoenix 1-2 Newcastle Jets: O'Donovan reaches landmark as Newcastle win at last

    Newcastle Jets claimed their first victory of the A-League season at the fifth time of asking with a 2-1 triumph at Wellington Phoenix.

    Wellington are still without a win this term and now sit a place below Newcastle in 11th, although they have two games in hand.

    The Jets came into the match on a run of four defeats from four but at least boasted a man in form in Valentino Yuel, and the forward was played through by strike partner Roy O'Donovan in the eighth minute to clip home a fine finish off the left post for a third goal in three outings.

    O'Donovan got in on the act six minutes into the second period, keeping his composure to net a 50th A-League goal after Wellington goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic charged out of his area.

    Marinovic's opposite number Jack Duncan excelled throughout the contest, making seven saves, although he was beaten from the penalty spot in the 85th minute - Phoenix captain Ulises Davila sending him the wrong way after substitute Blake Archbold made a rash sliding challenge on Cameron Devlin.

  • Rumour Has It: Liverpool prioritise Van Dijk deal over Salah, Man Utd close to Upamecano Rumour Has It: Liverpool prioritise Van Dijk deal over Salah, Man Utd close to Upamecano

    Liverpool are reportedly prioritising a new deal for Virgil van Dijk over Mohamed Salah, while they could be beaten to Dayot Upamecano by Manchester United.

    Salah's future has been a talking point in recent weeks, although the forward is contracted until 2023.

    Van Dijk also has an agreement at Anfield until 2023, but the injured defender is apparently Liverpool's focus.

     

    TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL PRIORITISE VAN DIJK DEAL OVER SALAH

    Liverpool are prioritising a new contract for Van Dijk over Salah, according to Eurosport.

    Van Dijk, 29, is recovering from a serious knee injury and his absence has been felt by the Premier League champions.

    Salah, meanwhile, has scored 13 goals in 18 league games this season, but in an interview with AS last month the 28-year-old refused to rule out a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona.

    The report also says Liverpool may look at West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, with Georginio Wijnaldum set to leave as a free agent at the end of the campaign.

    ROUND-UP

    - With Van Dijk and Joe Gomez injured, Liverpool have been linked with a move for RB Leipzig defender Upamecano. But The Sun reports Manchester United are poised to sign the centre-back for £38million (€42.7m).

    - Amid uncertainty over his future at Barcelona, Ousmane Dembele is being looked at by numerous European giants. Sport reports Chelsea, Manchester United, Juventus and Bayern Munich are monitoring the forward's situation. Dembele is out of contract in 2022 and the Catalan giants could sell him if he does not extend his deal.

    - Frank Lampard is under enormous pressure at Chelsea as the Premier League side struggle for form. The Mirror reports Chelsea could turn to Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers if they move on from Lampard.

    - Yet to re-sign with Southampton with his contract expiring next year, Danny Ings is linked with a move. 90min reports Leicester City and Everton have joined the race for the forward, who has also been linked to Tottenham.

  • Is Thiago Alcantara ill-suited to Liverpool's style of play? Is Thiago Alcantara ill-suited to Liverpool's style of play?

    Thiago Alcantara is a rather unique breed of footballer, the type of player who will be almost universally enjoyed such are his breath-taking technical attributes.

    It's like he rolls the passing talents of Juan Roman Riquelme and first touch of Ronaldinho into a single player and saunters around the pitch ensuring the game is played at a pace dictated by him.

    His Liverpool career feels a lot shorter than it actually has been because of his absence through injury, and he'll be hoping his recent return is the catalyst to kick-starting what is resembling a fairly meek title defence.

    But while Thiago has shown flashes of his immense ability in his fledgling Liverpool career, it appears not all are entirely convinced.

    Former Reds midfielder Dietmar Hamann expressed his reservations in an interview with talkSPORT on Tuesday, suggesting Thiago is detrimental to a key part of Liverpool's play; utilising a quick tempo with hard-working midfielders who look to get the ball forward to the front three as soon as possible.

    Hamann urged Liverpool to be cautious about how much influence they let Thiago have, questioning his effectiveness when not in possession and suitability to the Reds' system, concerns that won't have been eased by Thursday's shock defeat to Burnley.

    But does this give a fair reflection of Thiago?

    An unnecessary luxury?

    First of all, there are only so many conclusions you can make regarding Thiago and his time at Liverpool because he has not featured particularly often, as previously highlighted.

    But the fact is, Liverpool's record in Premier League games he has featured in is quite poor, with only one of those six ending in a victory.

    That win came in his Premier League debut, a 2-0 victory at Chelsea back in September – that's right, it was the game where he completed 75 passes despite only coming on at half-time, a record since Opta began recording such data in 2003-04 among players to play a maximum of 45 minutes.

    The hype after that match was stratospheric – the champions had seemingly added the final string to their bow and they were seemingly set to overwhelm everyone, but it's worth bearing in mind that was a Chelsea side reduced to 10 men before Thiago had even come on.

    Liverpool average just one point per game with Thiago, that more than doubles to 2.2 when he hasn't played – additionally, their win percentage rockets from 16.7 to 61.5 in games the Spaniard hasn't featured in.

    Of course, it's a relatively small sample size, so perhaps take the facts with a pinch of salt – but there are metrics that can shine more light on Thiago's influence.

    One of Hamann's major reservations related to Thiago's desire to dictate play and how he might, in the long run, negatively impact Liverpool's effectiveness off the ball.

    "Liverpool were always good when they weren't in possession, won it and played quickly forward. He's not that type of player, so it will be very interesting when he does play more often now how it's going to change the dynamics of the team," Hamann said.

    It's true, Liverpool do have more of the ball (65.7 per cent compared to 64.7) with Thiago in the side, but the difference is negligible and certainly cannot be pointed to as a cause for worry.

    The supply line

    Then there's the concerns relating to Thiago's style of play potentially impacting supply to the frontline. Well, the Reds average 18.7 shots per game when he plays (up from 14.9 without him).

    There is also no damning evidence to suggest Thiago isn't looking to feed the forwards either, after all, he passed to Mohamed Salah 11 times (a joint high) against Manchester United last weekend.

    He has picked out Salah 36 times in their 365 minutes on the pitch together – so, once every 10.1 minutes. Although that's less frequent than he passes to Trent Alexander-Arnold (once per every 8.2 minutes) and Andy Robertson (8.8 minutes), it shows he is supplying the Reds' most-threatening forward regularly.

    And while the two full-backs had off days against Burnley, can you really blame Thiago for passing to them often? Since the start of last season, they are Liverpool's leading providers of shooting opportunities.

    Additionally, his 14.9 passes into final third of the pitch per 90 minutes is second only to Jordan Henderson (16.2) among Liverpool players this term – Thiago beats him, and every other Red, in terms of successful passes in the attacking third every game, however (25.8, compared to Henderson's 20.5).

    "He's not that type of player"

    It's fair to say Thiago probably isn't best known for what he brings to teams off the ball, but despite some seemingly questioning him in this department, he appears to be at least pulling his weight.

    In fact, he's averaging marginally more tackles per 90 minutes than Henderson (1.5 over 1.4), while no one in the Liverpool team is intercepting opposition passes as frequently as the Barcelona product (2.8 per 90 mins).

    On top of that, he's ranked third in the squad for duel involvements (14.7 per 90 mins) – while not necessarily an indicator of excellence on its own, that should at the very least dispel any questions regarding his work rate.

    On an individual level when you look at the data, Thiago doesn't appear to be out of place stylistically. While he may occasionally spend more time on the ball than some of his midfield contemporaries, he possesses the kind of technical wizardry that arguably no other Liverpool player has and that is surely a positive rather than a negative.

    He's also clearly a hard-working player who offers plenty off the ball. So, while the Reds are going through a tricky patch at the moment, Thiago's abilities should be embraced rather than looked upon with suspicion.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.