Jose Mourinho sliding from a winner to a whinger with Tottenham

Spurs' season is going downhill fast and Jose wants everyone to believe he has the impossible task

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The first time Jose Mourinho managed in Burnley, it amounted to a statement of intent. His Chelsea began 2014-15 at Turf Moor, conceded first and responded with three quickfire goals, showcasing Mourinho-esque power and purpose, quality and mentality.

On day one, they looked exactly what they were: champions in waiting.

A return five-and-a-half years later comes with a very different context.

Tottenham, with a mere three clean sheets in 24 games, are not exactly a quintessential Mourinho team. The sheen of a winner has been replaced by a growing reputation as a whinger.

Tottenham are seventh, perhaps only two points outside a Champions League spot, but Mourinho said recently he would “love it to be July 1”.

It referenced a striker shortage in the extended absence of Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son, but it felt like defeatism.

After the initial outburst of optimism upon his appointment, Mourinho now feels in a familiar pattern of downplaying expectations, presenting his as the impossible task, writing off the next 10 weeks.

There are reports Mourinho has told his board he can prioritise Burnley or Tuesday’s match with Leipzig, but not both.

Does he focus on qualifying for the Champions League or the Spurs’ faint hopes, following a 1-0 first-leg defeat, of staying in it? The alternative theory is to say he could attempt both, rather than pleading misfortune amid injuries.

As it is, they are competing on one fewer front than they were earlier this week. Like Burnley, they were eliminated from the FA Cup by Norwich.

If Sean Dyche’s team, who habitually beat early exits, scarcely care, Wednesday’s exit on penalties represented a major blow to Spurs.

Their 12-season trophy drought is almost certain to be extended and if one way the serial winner Mourinho could outperform Mauricio Pochettino was to secure an honour, it is unlikely.

Instead, and excluding the campaigns when he was sacked mid-season, this is likely to be the first year where Mourinho does not manage in a cup quarter-final.

It was not the headline news Wednesday produced. Eric Dier is being investigated by the FA after wading into the crowd to confront a supporter.

Mourinho condemned Eric Dier following his altercation, but says he understood why the England international did it.

"I think Eric Dier did something that we professionals cannot do but in these circumstances every one of us would do," said Mourinho.

Whatever his view, if it represents another unwanted distraction, the Englishman was an issue long before the possibility of a ban loomed. Mourinho had latched on to Dier when appointed, restoring him to the side, seemingly seeing him in the tradition of his defensive midfielders.

His poor form has destroyed that assumption, leaving Mourinho with atypical midfields and, lacking anyone remotely resembling a target man, uncharacteristic forward lines.

It was not a Mourinho squad to begin with; stripped of the pillars of a regular Mourinho side, lacking his sort of signings. But nor has the Portuguese looked the Mourinho of old: he has lost to his former players Frank Lampard and Nuno Espirito Santo in his last two league games, making incoherent attempts to imitate their tactics. Those ersatz back threes may have been the indirect consequence of absences elsewhere, but they did not work.

His honeymoon period lasted barely four weeks. Now he goes to a venue where an earlier slide started.

Rewind to February and Kane made a scoring comeback but Tottenham’s eventual loss to Burnley was notable for Mauricio Pochettino berating referee Mike Dean in uncharacteristic fashion, earning the Argentine a touchline ban.

Spurs’ league form never really recovered. It was the first of four defeats in five league games.

Now they have lost 17 in 40 and now Burnley represent one of the division’s form teams, taking 14 points from six games, conceding a solitary goal in the last five. For Mourinho and Spurs, it has the potential to get worse.