Jose Mourinho’s tactics and his man-management skills have won his team’s the biggest trophies in Europe. His personality has gained him a lot of media attention. Mourinho’s break from football punditry hasn’t brought Tottenham exactly the results club president, Daniel Levy, may have expected. Why haven’t Mourinho’s tactics and chosen formation helped the Lilywhites more?
Mourinho has adapted his 4-3-3 system into a 4-2-3-1 for Tottenham
Jose Mourinho is synonymous with great defensive tactics. Managers like Pep Guardiola, influenced by the school of Johann Cruyff, propose that their team hold the ball as much as possible. The Special One’sphilosophy is different. Having the ball means there are simply more chances of it being lost.
The Portuguese tactician has generally adapted a 4-2-3-1 system since joining Tottenham mid-way through the 2019/20 season. While Mourinho is mostly known for his 4-3-3 system where inside forwards could drift into the centre of the pitch, even in his later stages at Chelsea he was known to adapt his strategy to the system he uses today.
The main issue has been that Spurs, for the most part, has been an attacking and creative side under Mauricio Pochettino. The defensive mindset may pay dividends, but it will take time to enforce these changes.
Changing the passing style and buildup to fit his tactics
Mauricio Pochettino built up the Spurs side on a combination of blood, sweat, tears and flair. Tottenham was a team that would press high and hold its shape when attacking. This philosophy was maintained even after Tottenham’s sold players.
Tottenham was known to play with high intensity. Christian Eriksen, Delle Alli and Tanguy Ndombele were required to provide quick passes through the middle. Strikers Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son would then use their skill to create goal chances.
The 2020 set of instructions has numerous supporters. Mourinho tactics in FM or FIFA are dissected at length online. At the core of them is Tottenham’s choice of passing. The team sits deep, with long passes thrown towards the wingers or lone striker. Their success usually hinges on the height of the oppositions’ defense line.
This has worked with varying degrees of success. In all fairness, the injuries of strikers Kane and Son have been a significant factor in the oscillating success rate.
Jose Mourinho’s pressing and counter-attack
A lot of modern football is predicated on a manager getting his team to win back possession as quickly as possible, Cruyff called it the 3-second rule. Pep Guardiola applies this. Jurgen Klopp’s tactics are predicated on almost maniacal counter-pressing mentality. Mauricio Pochettino did the same. His team needed to win the ball high up the pitch and as fast as possible.
Jose Mourinho, who was a manager without a job in early 2020, takes a different approach. Tottenham allows the opposition to hold possession inside the Lillywhites’ own half. They then try to leave them without passing options by marking attacking players. This works fine against more rigid teams. But, those that have players able to move into channels, as we saw in Spurs’ games against Chelsea and RB Leipzig, can hurt Mourinho’s team.
Jose Mourinho has built a reputation as being a rather stubborn man. However, he has also built, from the ground up, a reputation for winning trophies.
His tactical approach was well known before joining Tottenham. A shorter injury list will help. Getting his famed Mourinho players into the fold will also aid his tactics. Finally, this may simply be a learning curve for Tottenham. The Lilliywhites’ change of style just goes to remind us that everything changes.