London (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has played down talk of a crisis at struggling Tottenham but is scratching his head as he seeks a way to pull the club out of their spiral of decline.
Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at West Ham was Spurs’ fifth in their past six Premier League games and they now trail the fourth-placed Hammers by nine points.
Tottenham appear a shadow of the side that topped the table in December and Mourinho is in one of the worst spells of his long managerial career.
The Portuguese has earned 81 points after 50 league matches in charge of the London club, the lowest total at this stage in any managerial stint.
In sharp contrast, he had 126 points at the same point of his first spell in charge of Chelsea.
“I wouldn’t say crisis,” said Mourinho when asked about the form of his team, now languishing in ninth spot in the Premier League table.
“If crisis is frustration and sadness in the dressing room, I’d say so because nobody is happy and we all showed that in this game.”
Things might have been different at the London Stadium had Gareth Bale’s fierce strike gone in instead of hitting the crossbar or Son Heung-min’s deflected effort not looped onto the post.
Mourinho, 58, admitted his team needed a change of fortunes.
He will be only too aware that his predecessor, Mauricio Pochettino, was fired just months after guiding Spurs to the Champions League final in 2019.
Despite Tottenham’s struggles, Mourinho can win the club’s first silverware for 13 years when they take on league leaders Manchester City in the League Cup final in April.
And they are well-placed to reach the last 16 of the Europa League — another potential route back into the Champions League.
Ultimately, his future could hinge on whether Spurs can find a way back into Europe’s top club competition, which he has won twice before, with Porto and Inter Milan.
“Very hard, yes, very hard, but mathematically possible,” Mourinho said when asked about his team’s chances of finishing in the top four.
“Of course our team has problems, and the problems they have reflect on results and on points, but I also believe that a little bit of that light, a little bit of that luck that you also need in football to win matches, has to be back.”
The consequences of missing out on the Champions League would be enormous, not just financially but also the possibility that stars such as Harry Kane could lose patience and look elsewhere.
– Coaching methods –
Ex-England striker Alan Shearer said Tottenham had not improved under Mourinho despite significant sums of money spent.
But the Portuguese received support form Spurs great Glenn Hoddle, who urged the club to stick with their manager.
“How can you sack someone who has got you to a cup final? It’s ridiculous,” Hoddle said on his Glenn Hoddle Footy Show podcast.
“He has earned the right, with what he has done in his career, to be given more time. Average at times, but a couple of wins, the confidence comes back.”
Mourinho himself is confident that he remains the right man to turn around Spurs’ fortunes.
“Mine and my coaching staff’s methods are second to nobody in the world,” he said. “Sometimes the results are the consequence of multiple situations in football.
“I think for a long, long time, we have problems in the team that I cannot resolve by myself as a coach.”
The problem for Mourinho is that time is not on his side and he will know that whatever the frustrations, the buck ultimately stops with him.