As a fan of Tottenham Hotspur since 1986, I was sad to see manager Mauricio Pochettino leave the club after five-and-a-half years.
Pochettino gave me one of the best days of my life. I managed to procure a ticket for the Champions League semi-final second leg against Ajax in Amsterdam back in May.
Lucas Moura's goal generated a type of a spontaneous combustion that leaves you levitating, but alive. It's impossible to describe the feeling, which is why my words are failing right now. It was one of the most natural rushes imaginable. That was Pochettino's work.
Thanks for the great times Mauricio, including one of my best life memories. You did us proud. 🙏🏻🐓⚽️🇮🇪🏴🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/U7W08qJCdu
— John Duggan (@JohnDugganSport) November 19, 2019
Pochettino's work also included a title push in 2016 and an unbeaten home record the following season which resulted in a second place finish in the Premier League, the best for Spurs in a top flight since 1963.
Pochettino's work included four successive Champions League qualifications, an exciting style of football and the flourishing of players such as Harry Kane, Heung Min Son, Harry Winks and Dele Alli.
The debit side of the ledger was a real slump in form in 2019, the fading of the pressing tactics, a dressing room lacking in harmony and the feeling that it had all run its course.
Whether Pochettino should have received funds and support well before now from the club hierarchy is moot in ways. He's gone, and Jose Mourinho is the new king.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) November 20, 2019
It will certainly be frustrating to a section of the Tottenham support if Chairman Daniel Levy starts waving the cheque book about for Mourinho, counter to the way Levy has operated since his corporation ENIC took over Spurs in 2001.
Tottenham are owned by London billionaire Joe Lewis, who allows business partner Levy the latitude to get on with the day to day running of the club. Levy is a fantastic, hard nosed businessman, who has delivered a 22nd Century stadium and made Tottenham not only profitable, but able to compete with European football's elite despite an inferior wage structure. A lot of that of course was down to the genius of Pochettino, who has now paid the price.
So Tottenham are at a crossroads. In Mourinho, they have a proven winner, a man who has won Champions League crowns with Porto and Inter Milan, three Premier League titles, an FA Cup and three League Cups with Chelsea, a La Liga with Real Madrid and a Europa League with Manchester United. He has always struck me as an underdog, anti-establishment, someone who fought his way up from being Bobby Robson's 'translator' to the top of the global football management chain.
Mourinho had to compete with the brilliance of Barcelona while in Spain and also inherited huge structural problems at Manchester United that his profligate spending may not have overcome. However, it is true that his share price is not as strong as it was. The Portuguese struggled under the weight of expectation at Real and United. His style has never been as joyous as it was when he was 'The Special One' in those early days at Chelsea, as Duff, Drogba and Robben ran riot. Perhaps Tottenham can revitalise his career. That's because one gets the sense this is 56-year-old Mourinho's last shot. If it turns toxic quickly, he'll probably be finished in club management.
Daniel Levy has always wanted Mourinho and he has got his man. If Levy's ego is calm, and if he understands that to get to the next level, Spurs will have to spend more than they have been, both on players and wages, then maybe Mourinho can succeed. If Mourinho is given funds for next season and Harry Kane is persuaded to stay at White Hart Lane, there is a chance. The fear for us Lilywhites is that Tottenham will become another Arsenal, blaming their misfortune on the costs of the new stadium build.
So it's up to Levy, and ultimately, Lewis. What's their ambition? Pochettino's net spend at Tottenham was just over £100 million. Mourinho's at Manchester United was north of £300 million.
The equation between Levy, Lewis, Mourinho, money and ambition will determine Tottenham's fate.