News that Spurs – Chelsea’s deadliest London foes – have signed up Jose Mourinho as replacement manager to the sacked Mauricio Pochettino has been met with predictably mixed reactions.
Chelsea fans have been on a journey when it comes to their relationship with the most successful silverware accumulator in the club’s 115-year history.
Deep down, they still love the old silver fox for helping owner Roman Abramovich turn a trendy but underperforming London club into a modern-day giant. But when Mourinho signed for Man U, that bottomless affection was sorely tested.
Now he’s signed for the team Chelsea most despise in the capital, it’s hard to imagine that what began as jocular touchline banter won’t turn into full-blown antagonism.
Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman, had clearly tied up the deal with The Special One several weeks ago, despite it only being announced in a press statement on Wednesday morning, the day after Pochettino’s sacking.
Mourinho, who still lives in London, doesn’t need the money. Thanks to his flitting from club to club (bringing 25 trophies to his employers along the way) he is worth well over £50million.
The problem is, his stint with Manchester United ended badly, with players and fans feeling alienated as the manager went on one of his famous spiralling sulks, and there’s every likelihood that his time with Tottenham – officially until May 2023 – will end the same way.
The announcement by Spurs has led to predictably hostile reactions from home fans (who loved Poch), Chelsea (now much more ambivalent) and Man U (jeers and abuse), not to mention Arsenal (who detest anyone remotely linked to their north London rivals) and Liverpool (who hate anyone who hasn’t worked for them).
While exchanging an articulate Portuguese for an at-times-impossible-to-follow Argentine might be seen as a positive move in terms of clarity, Tottenham fans have had a good relationship with Poch, and we all know that spells with Mourinho start brightly and end in tears.
Just months ago Pochettino, with his hands tied in terms of player investment by a lack of funds caused by the move to the new stadium, managed to take Spurs to the final of the Champions League. His own disappointment at the result led to tears on the pitch, cementing that bond with Tottenham supporters, who now feel betrayed by a chairman who has bought a hard-to-fathom glamour gaffer whose best, and most influential, years are almost certainly behind him.
Tottenham may have bought the golden goose, but is it still capable of laying golden eggs when it is denied 22-carat grain?
Spurs v Chelsea is three days before Christmas. Don’t expect much Ho, Ho, Ho.