Jose Mourinho is not planning on wholesale changes as he tries to turn Tottenham’s season around and believes he is humble enough to have learned lessons from his failed spell in charge of Manchester United.
Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino as Spurs boss on Wednesday after the Argentine’s five-and-a-year spell ended in the sack with Tottenham 14th in the Premier League. The Portuguese has won 25 trophies in a storied managerial career at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and United.
However, his time in charge at Old Trafford ended in the sack 11 months ago having failed to win the league at a club for the first time since he left Portuguese minnows Leiria to join Porto in 2002.
“I am humble enough to try to analyse my career. Not just the last year, my career, the evolution, the problems, the solutions,” said Mourinho in his first press conference as Tottenham boss yesterday. “I was humble enough to do that. The principle of the analysis was not to blame anyone else.”
Pochettino was let go less than six months after reaching the club’s first ever Champions League final, but results domestically have been on the slide for nearly a year. The Argentine had been keen for a bigger turnover of his squad in recent seasons to prevent his time in charge from growing stale.
However, Mourinho insisted he will not demand millions to spend in the transfer market. “The potential of the club is huge, the potential of the players is great,” added Mourinho. “I don’t need players, I am so happy with the players I have, I just need time to understand them better, to know everything about them. My gift is this squad, the squad is very, very good. One of the reasons I decided to come was them. I tried to buy some of them for different clubs, I couldn’t. Some of them I didn’t even try because you know how impossible it is.”
A return of just three wins from their opening 12 Premier League games leaves Tottenham already playing catch up to qualify for the Champions League next season, 11 points adrift of the top four, and already 20 behind league leaders Liverpool.
Under Pochettino, Tottenham made huge progress to become Champions League regulars and compete at the upper echelons of the league, but failed to win a trophy. Mourinho, though, believes they are capable of challenging for the Premier League title next season.
“We cannot win the Premier League this season. I’m not saying we will do, but we can win it next season,” he added. “If we win titles it will be not the consequence of me, but of the club’s work, this is a package.”
Mourinho said taking over as Tottenham manager has left him “smiling for two days” and made a point of telling his predecessor, Pochettino, the club would “always be his home”.
“I do it with a bit of sadness but I have to speak about Mauricio. I have to congratulate him for the work he has done. This club will always be his home. This training ground will always be his training ground. The door will always be open for him. He will find happiness again. He will find a great club again. He will have a great future.”
Asked to elaborate on whether his outlook had changed during his hiatus, he said: “I think, I have to believe so. I always thought these 11 months were not a waste of time. They were months to think, to analyse, to prepare. You never lose your DNA, you never lose your identity, but I have time to think about many things. During my career I have made mistakes. I am stronger, I am relaxed, I am motivated, I am ready and I think the players felt that in two days. I am ready to support them, this is not about me. It is about the club. I am here to try and help everyone.”
Being based in London once again was understood to have been a great draw for Mourinho and his family, but it does place him in close quarters with his old club Chelsea, who held to three Premier League title.
He has arguably never been more beloved than during his early days at Stamford Bridge and it was a second spell in charge of the club that drew him back to English football in 2013.
Responding to the notion he was seen as “Mr Chelsea”, he said: “I think they have to see me as Mr Inter, Mr Real Madrid, Mr Porto. I am a club man, but [a] many clubs man. I am not Chelsea, I am not Inter, I am not Real Madrid, I am all of them. I gave everything to all of them and that is what I am going to give here. I decided to have this adventure, go to different countries, until what I call the grand slam, England, Spain and Italy. I did it with this passion and then the Premier League, I thought, is my natural habitat.”
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