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Sport Mourinho needs a trophy to justify Tottenham's style of play

01:56  29 january  2021
01:56  29 january  2021 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

Mourinho says Chelsea 86-game league unbeaten run is tough to beat

  Mourinho says Chelsea 86-game league unbeaten run is tough to beat Liverpool's run without a Premier League defeat at Anfield came to an end after almost four years, but Chelsea did not lose a league game at Stamford Bridge from February 2004 until October 2008.Liverpool's long run without a Premier League defeat at Anfield came to an end after 68 games, stretching over almost four years, before Burnley's 1-0 win, on Thursday.

Mauricio Pochettino, Jose Mourinho posing for the camera: MailOnline logo © Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo

The strike from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was perfect. Curving away from goalkeeper Alisson’s fingertips at speed, it eventually struck the side of the netting just inside the post.

It was a fabulous goal – quite unstoppable – but also on reflection rather bitter sweet for those with Tottenham’s best interests at heart. For, setting up the way they do under the pragmatic and risk-averse Jose Mourino, it was pretty much the only way the home team were going to score a goal.

Remember the days when Tottenham were a little like Liverpool? It wasn’t that long ago that Mauricio Pochettino set his team up to press high up the field, unleash flying full-backs and try to beat teams on the front foot. These days at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium it is a little different.

Liverpool players outnumber Tottenham's seven to four in combined XI

  Liverpool players outnumber Tottenham's seven to four in combined XI Here, Sportsmail picks a combined XI of players from both Tottenham and Liverpool. We've only included players who are fit to play tonight so that means no Virgil van Dijk or Joe Gomez for Liverpool. © Provided by Daily Mail Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho embraces ahead of the reurn fixture at Anfield in December © Provided by Daily Mail Harry Kane is enjoying a fine season for Tottenham, both creating and scoring goals GOALKEEPER: ALISSON (LIVERPOOL) Hugo Lloris is enjoying his best season for some time under Jose Mourinho, with Spurs' defence the second-best in the Premier League with only 17 goals co

a man wearing a military uniform: Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool have consistency of personnel in comparison to Tottenham © Provided by Daily Mail Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool have consistency of personnel in comparison to Tottenham a football player on a field: Son Heung-min is one of just three players from Spurs in the Champions League final in 2019 © Provided by Daily Mail Son Heung-min is one of just three players from Spurs in the Champions League final in 2019

On Thursday night, it was five at the back from Mourinho. Try and stifle and squeeze Liverpool. Frustrate them and bore them. Then, when the time comes, bomb through the middle of them through Harry Kane and Heung Min Son on the counter attack.

It can work. It worked against Arsenal earlier this season. Tottenham killed their neighbours with two blistering back to front goals that afternoon. Nobody who watched that game will have said it was not exciting. It was. But it’s hard to pull it off time and time again and here against a Liverpool team that found a great bundle of the form that has been missing over the last month, they were never really in the game.

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Much has happened to Tottenham since they met Liverpool in the Champions League final not quite 20 months ago. So much in fact that only three Spurs players who started that night in Madrid did so here – Son and Kane and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. It could be said that the dissembling of Pochettino’s dashing team is now complete.

From the moment Mourinho walked through the door at Spurs in November 2019, we should probably have known what was coming and hubris has certainly played its part.

Jose Mourinho wearing a suit and tie: Mourinho was never going to maintain Mauricio Pochettino's way of doing things © Provided by Daily Mail Mourinho was never going to maintain Mauricio Pochettino's way of doing things a person with a football ball on a field: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg netted with a wonderful strike but it felt like the only way they'd score © Provided by Daily Mail Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg netted with a wonderful strike but it felt like the only way they'd score

Mourinho was never going to succeed the cherished Pochettino and merely invite his predecessor’s players to continue as before. Small tweaks and minor refinements are not his way. A rebuild was always on the cards and this is what we can now observe.

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This was a Spurs team that did need refreshing. What is still under discussion is whether Mourinho’s complete change of emphasis – from possession and pressing to unashamed counter attack – will ever be worth it in the end.

What we saw here was typical. Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp took one look at the Tottenham team and said in his pre-match interviews that he knew the squeeze and the counter would be on.

It almost worked inside two minutes. An exchange of passes between Son and Kane and the South Korean swept the ball past Alisson and in to the corner. VAR saved Liverpool by a fraction but the warning was there.

a crowd of people watching a baseball game: Pochettino built a team full of verve that reached the Champions League final and it has been transformed by Mourinho, who needs a trophy to justify the changes © Provided by Daily Mail Pochettino built a team full of verve that reached the Champions League final and it has been transformed by Mourinho, who needs a trophy to justify the changes

There is a sturdiness about Mourinho’s Tottenham that is admirable and physically impressive. Pochettino used to like a bit of muscle too. Where we used to see players such as Moussa Dembele – long since gone – and Moussa Sissoko – on the bench for this one – we have now have Tanguy Ndombele and Hojbjerg. Both have been excellent this season.

Tottenham facing crisis as Mourinho gets the Blues again

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Mourinho’s team defends reasonably well, too. Only league leaders Manchester City have conceded fewer.

But with players such as Christian Eriksson gone and Dele Alli and Harry Winks – not to mention Gareth Bale – not starting, this Spurs team is no longer a team built to score goals.

Kane and Son are among the most dangerous and exhilarating attacking duos in Europe. The Korean is now at elite level.

But Kane’s half-time withdrawal with yet another ankle injury exposed a lack of depth and the absence of any other way to hurt teams. Tottenham do not have options they feel they can rely on. Bale has been a huge disappointment since his return from Spain while players like Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn exist on a rung or two further down the ladder.

a football player on a field: Harry Kane suffered an ankle injury and had to come off at half-time on Thursday night © Provided by Daily Mail Harry Kane suffered an ankle injury and had to come off at half-time on Thursday night

Liverpool have been poor with the ball during their barren run but they showed signs in defeat at Manchester United on Sunday that better form may be incoming. Well here it was and the example set by Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino was one that Tottenham could not hope to match.

Tottenham once wore teams down like Liverpool do but last night the gap between these two sides was significant.

Mourinho and his players are in the Carabao Cup final against City in April and it’s just as well. That thought may sustain them for a while.

For if they are going to play this way they are going to have to win something to make it all feel worthwhile.

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Harry Kane's injury has exacerbated Spurs' problems under Mourinho .
In December, Spurs were being talked up as title contenders given their new-found defensive discipline and resilience under Jose Mourinho after stubborn displays over Man City and Chelsea.In December, Spurs were being talked up as title contenders given their new-found defensive discipline and resilience under Mourinho following a hard-fought victory over Manchester City before holding Chelsea to a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge.

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