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  • By Yann Tear

Timing of Mourinho exit leaves bitter taste - as does every sickly aspect of Super League power grab

Maybe they just decided it was a good day to bury bad news. Maybe the timing - a week before a cup final - was always on the agenda.

Either way, today's news of the dismissal of Jose Mourinho is still pretty shocking.

We are just a few days away from a game that might bring Tottenham a first trophy since 2008 - which, after all, was the very reason for acquiring serial trophy-hunter Mourinho in the first place.

He was hired 17 months ago on the basis that the barren spell for the club simply has to end and was one game away from delivering on that promise to chairman Daniel Levy - albeit with champions-elect Man City standing in their way.

"Jose and his coaching staff have been with us through some of our most challenging times as a club," said Levy. "Jose is a true professional who showed enormous resilience during the pandemic.

"On a personal level I have enjoyed working with him and regret that things have not worked out as we both had envisaged.

"He will always be welcome here and we should like to thank him and his coaching staff for their contribution."

You do wonder, though, whether the world-imploding news of the club's avowed intention to participate in the European Super League has something to do with the axing of one of the most decorated bosses in the modern game. It is certainly a distraction from the other big new story of the week involving Spurs.

Along with neighbours Arsenal and Chelsea, plus Liverpool, Man City, and Man united, Tottenham have owners who have placed a higher premium on cash from a new Euro venture than on traditions and domestic fortunes.

They are rightly facing a fearful backlash from true fans of these powerhouses of the English game and not just those suddenly thrust on the margins by the venal power-grab announced by 12 European clubs on Sunday night.

Looking at Mourinho's spell dispassionately, it is clear that he was repeating the same errors he made at Man United, where an increasingly cantankerous approach to man-management left a glut of dissatisfied, unhappy or insecure players that he could not improve. He was the exact opposite of much-loved predecessor Mauricio Pochettino, who so very nearly led the club to one of its finest hours. Arguably it was still one of the finest hours, being in that Champions League final in Madrid.

Dele Alli is the most obvious example of a player hung out to dry by Mourinho, in much the same way that Luke Shaw was at Old Trafford. Only this week, Paul Pogba revealed how baffled he was by the Portuguese suddenly cold-shouldering him when the pair worked together in Manchester. Mourinho loses patience so much quicker these days. He criticises players and distances himself from them when things go wrong.

Recently, he effectively laid all the blame for defensive failings on his players. 'Same coach, different players' he said, suggesting it was the inability of his team to learn from him rather than his own failure to adapt to changed circumstances that brought on problems.

The cautious approach which secured him so much silverware in the earlier part of his career has looked increasingly antiquated and damaging. He was in danger of ensuring his biggest legacy would be the disintegration in confidence and aspiration of his two best players, Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son. And maybe of provoking their departures.

His inability to light a fire under Gareth Bale to make him the asset he should have been is also on the rap sheet.

Spurs are currently seventh, wholly inconsistent and increasingly unlikely to qualify for the Champions League via their league position.

It would have made sense to revisit his appointment at the end of the season. But to do it now? And can the fans trust anything the club hierarchy does now anyway, given a decision to throw in its lot with the ludicrously self-important, closed-shop of the money-grabbing European Super League?

For all his many faults, Mourinho is still a football man and the football community ought to sympathise with him, on the basis of being one of us rather than one of them - the them being those soulless men in suits who do not care much for the players and managers who share a passion for the glories and uncertainties which have underpinned the game for more than a century.

Mourinho is a man whose best days are surely over, but he is part of the history and fabric of the game and will be remembered with far greater fondness or admiration than the names Glazer, Henry or Kroenke ever will be.


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