Predicting every Spurs player's fate under Jose Mourinho
Tottenham appointed José Mourinho as their new manager just eleven hours after dismissing Mauricio Pochettino. *Jez from Peep Show voice* And that's good, is it? What's good about that?
I, for one, am not convinced that replacing one of the most tactically astute and progressive managers in the game with whatever José Mourinho is now is a positive step. If his last three appointments are anything to go by, Mourinho will tear through both the finances and the dressing room of Tottenham Hotspur like a tornado with an Amex. Nothing but scorched earth in his wake.
Despite this, and knowing the inner-workings of the Mourinho psyche only too well after hours and hours and more hours spent pretending to be his Evil twin on Football Manager, I will admit that he has exactly one League Cup, a Community Shield and Europa League title in him before he leaves after 18 months to take Portugal to the quarter-finals of the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
With that inevitable fate in mind, let's now journey through the Spurs team one by one and decide exactly what José has instore for a squad of players that *quite possibly* did not know how good they had it.
Hugo Lloris is going to be fit again in January, ask for the return of the captain's armband ("No, obviously not") and get sold back to Ligue 1 where he can make all the floppy-handed howlers he has become notorious for without anyone caring. Mourinho will sign a goalkeeper he can trust - quite possibly Sergio Romero - to replace him and then just have three 'number twos' instead of a proper 'number one' just because. That's why.
Do you really care what happens to Michel Vorm? The Dutch Carlo Cudicini isn't even worth talking about. He'll still be there, getting thigh massages in the clubhouse or whatever it is he does to kill the time.
As discussed, Paulo Gazzaniga is a devilishly handsome man. Possibly too handsome to ever be a top, top goalkeeper. Mourinho knows this, but he also knows that when he looks deep into those porcelain eyes he feels something stir in his chest. Maybe even a bit further down than that. Something he hasn't felt since he arrived at Chelsea in 2004, saw Claude Makélélé beaming at him and knew then and there that everything was going to be okay
With Mourinho's unrequited confidence thrust upon him, Gazzaniga will establish himself as one of those 'Premier League goalkeepers that are quite good but because they are quite good rather than brilliant or terrible nobody actually notices them'.
The Argentinian Ben Foster, basically. Or maybe he's too handsome for that.
Given Mourinho's relationship with Luke Shaw, whom he treated like a dog treats a squeaky hamburger chew toy, Danny Rose can't be too ecstatic about José's appointment. The good news, however, is that Rose is exactly the kind past it, hard-working player that Mourinho prefers to put his faith in ahead of younger, better and more deserving options. It remains to be seen whether Ryan Sessegnon could ever play as an out-and-out left-back in the Premier League but at least with José Mourinho and José Mourinho's great distrust of youth in charge of Tottenham, we will never, ever, ever find out.
Toby Alderweireld is the centre-back that José Mourinho has been trying to sign since time began. But, to this point, they have unfortunately never been united. He is essentially José's giant white sperm whale. Or maybe Moby Dick is Captain Ahab's Toby Alderweireld. It's hard to tell which came first.
Anyway, now the two are together at last (with the Belgian's contract expiring in the summer) it's hard to imagine it being anything other than a crushing disappointment for both parties. I can see the relationship between the two going sour very fast, possibly due to Mourinho subbing the player off before half-time for wearing too much hair gel and claiming it was affecting his ability to win aerial duels. Alderweireld will then join AC Milan in the summer and never be heard from again.
José will love Jan Vertonghen just like everybody else loves Jan Vertonghen because it is actually physically impossible not to love Jan Vertonghen, the guy who has very quietly been Spurs' most important player this decade. Mourinho gives him a two-year contract extension and everything is rosy until a knee injury strikes, Vertonghen suddenly can't run anymore and his newly-signed contract is mutually terminated so he can retire and become Academy Director at Ajax. Or something.
17 years old. Full of potential. Already capped at senior level by Ireland. "Loved" by Pochettino. Poor lad doesn't stand a chance. Bundesliga-bound.
Will obviously get played as a CDM on numerous occasions. José Mourinho is already salivating at the thought.
As is his destiny, and has always been his destiny, José sells Kyle Walker-Peters for £8 million to Southampton. They then get relegated and Walker-Peters spends the rest of his life as a middling Championship full-back. You hate to see it, but in a much more accurate sense, you do, also, absolutely love to see it.
It is actually quite difficult to imagine what the best course of action for the maverick that is Serge Aurier, let alone what Mourinho will do with him. My best guess? A humiliating demotion to the U23 squad followed by tabloid stories about him being overweight followed by the Turkish Super League. The Holy Trinity, in other words.
Ben Davies signed a new bumper contract extension just this summer, under a man who was basically loved him like a father, which is set to keep him at the club until 2024. Does this mean anything to Mourinho? It does not.
Ben Davies... nice, dependable, 7/10 week in week out Ben Davies is surely the number one candidate for Mourinho to exile from the first team for absolutely no reason at all. He always does this and we know he always does this and we know that he usually picks completely the wrong players to do this to (Anthony Martial anyone? Kevin De Bruyne?), to emphasise his point.
Put your house on Davies being unfairly and repeatedly slandered in press conferences, dropped in favour of playing someone needlessly out of position (Eric Dier, the left-back spot is calling) and then after nine appearances in two years finally shipped off to Everton for next to nothing. This will one thousand percent happen.
Sold to Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United in January for £12 million and instantly becomes the best young centre-back around. Eventually ends up at Barcelona down the line, a twist that causes Daniel Levy to spend an entire year screaming into a pillow.
Speaking of getting cast aside, here's England starting centre midfielder Harry Winks! Do you really think Mourinho is going to take to a tiny excitable labrador puppy who is kind of maybe sort of a holding midfielder? As is the case with any half-decent theme park ride, José has a minimum height requirement for his central midfielders. He also needs them to be well-versed in the dark arts (cynical yellows and relentless harassment of the referee is the bare minimum) and I'm just not sure Winks quite has that in him, as good a player as he is looking to be.
The best way I can put it is: Mourinho is a Slytherin and Winks looks like he'd be sent to Hufflepuff the moment the Sorting Hat touched his small, friendly head. He's too nice. He's nowhere near nasty enough.
Which brings me to the grittiest attacking midfielder/winger since Park Ji-Sung. We all know Erik Lamela is going to absolutely fucking thrive under José Mourinho. That is until he gets sent off in a crucial Champions League quarter-final tie for two-footing a goalkeeper. He'll be class until that happens. Trust me.
Do you... do you remember John Obi Mikel? (Now at Trabzonspor because of course John Obi Mikel is at Trabzonspor, probably refusing to play Sturridge in on goal so he can knock a square pass to a fullback.) Do you remember how, at Chelsea, Mourinho used to bring him on bang on the 82nd minute every time he was protecting a single goal lead? And do you remember how that would just kind of be that? How nothing else would happen in the match? How the game would always finish with that score, with no highlights or chances of note for either team? How the referee might as well have just blown the whistle for full-time once he spotted Mikel's number 12 flash up on the fourth official's board?
Well, guess what. It's going to be that, but with Victor Wanyama. And do you know what? I am fucking here for it.
It may seem a long time ago now but before he signed Nemanja Matic, Mourinho wanted to buy Eric Dier whilst at Manchester United for something astounding like £60 million. The mad bastard would have done it as well if the lumbering Serb hadn't been available for roughly half as much. And, I guess, if Daniel Levy didn't treat his players like they were the most valuable things in existence, even if they were in fact just 'Eric Dier'.
What this means is that Eric Dier is going to be the new Spurs captain, lead midfield shithouse/occasional starting left-back and penalty taker. Mourinho clearly sees him as a humongous lump of wet clay to shape into his ideal workhorse midfielder and utility player; a man with the requisite physical qualities, a large enough head and most importantly of all, an unquenchable thirst for unnecessarily chasing down Sergio Ramos just to clatter him. Like Ashley Young before him, he will be the average player in the starting lineup who exists only to yell at others to 'pick up', performatively take hurried throw-ins when chasing a game and harass the referee every time a free-kick is given against them. Leadership. Material.
Moussa Sissoko is getting loaned back to Newcastle so fast it will make his head spin.
Giovani Lo Celso
Has already been spotted boarding a plane in one of those fake moustache/novelty disguises you can buy from party shops so he can go into hiding in his native Argentina until the option to buy on his loan deal expires. And you just have to respect that.
Will sit on the bench for the rest of the season and replace the (carded) Erik Lamela between the 65th and 75th minute in every fixture. Will also look bright and creative when he comes on, only hindering his chance of breaking into the starting XI.
Dele Alli was good, wasn't he? I'm sure he used to be good? I'm sure, at one point, he was good at football? What happened to you, Dele? Where have you gone? Where did all the goals go? The late runs into the box? The sauce? You really fucked it mate, you're going to be spending your days now as a completely functional, nothing, central midfield player with no discernible personality on the field. A rich man's Dale Stephens. Or a poor man's Ross Barkley (shudder). Worst of all, José Mourinho is going to do nothing but facilitate this. Pochettino gave you everything. And now you have nothing.
Let's be honest, Eriksen hasn't been arsed this season. At all. He has seven months left on his contract before Juventus snap him up on a free transfer to go with their other 8000 midfielders signed on a free transfer. Under Mourinho, it's easy to see him being shunted out wide where he can't impact the game or beat a player and is forced just to huff and puff and run around (his least favourite thing). You know, exactly like Mourinho did to Juan Mata at Chelsea. And Juan Mata at United. If he wasn't excited to leave before, he will be by June.
José Mourinho is going to make Lucas Moura watch 80 hours of tape consisting exclusively of Willian's tracking back of opposition fullbacks. He will play him in exactly one (1) match in an attempt to give him the opportunity to showcase his newly formed defensive instincts and watch in horror as Lucas leaves Erik Pieters for a split-second in a home game against Burnley, a completely innocuous incident, and never play the man again. Sold and replaced by Ivan Perišić.
A £55 million signing, you say? An exciting, dynamic midfield player with the capacity to shrug opponents off the ball and then glide right past them? Not a defensive-minded midfielder at all but one that creates opportunities from deep? Ok, ok, José Mourinho hears all of that, but what if... what if he could just, you know, sit and protect the back four and allow Eric Dier to bomb on instead? How does that sound? Abysmal? Wonderful. Because that is how it's going to be. José is going to try and turn this guy into Lassana fucking Diarra. And by God he will succeed.
Loaned to Norwich without so much as a "Hello, you can call me José."
Plays until the end of the season as a defensive-minded winger then thinks "Fuck it, can't be arsed anymore mate" and joins the South Korean army instead.
Harry Kane is pretty much the only player is going to remain completely unaffected by the change of management. He is going to keep pursuing goals with all the maniacal energy a chainsaw-wielding Patrick Bateman descending a staircase and he is, therefore, going to keep scoring them. He is going to keep battering in penalties. He is going to keep making his hair (facial and scalp) slightly better with each passing month. Of all of them, he will be the one to welcome José Mourinho, the one to publicly praise the new life he has instilled in the team after they thump West Ham, the one to be genuinely thrilled to lift the Carabao Cup.
But, and this is the thing, him doing exactly that will only lead to the eventual declaration that he needs a 'new challenge'. It will only lead to him kicking-off about being denied a move to Real Madrid. It will only lead to him handing in a transfer request that completely sours his relationship with the chairman, manager and supporters.
It's going to be ugly, it's going to be oh so ugly, but Mourinho's appointment won't actually change the fact he's still going to be snaffling goals until the day he breaks everyone's heart and is unveiled at the Bernabeu with a "Madrid. England. Golf." flag. Good for him, I guess. Bad for everyone else.