Well that wasn't pretty, but entirely unsurprising.
Eleven years ago, Jose Mourinho conquered Europe as Inter Milan swept to the treble, playing a counter-attacking, pragmatic style that reaped untold rewards. In the meantime, as the titles have dried up for Mourinho, the methods have stayed the same, while the rest of the footballing world has evolved.
Mourinho has won plenty of big games down the years playing the way he did against Chelsea on Thursday night. He has been more than happy for his team to sit back, soak up pressure, invite opponents to attack, and then catch them on the counter.
'I prefer not to speak like I’m Jose' - Mourinho makes Stormzy video cameo
- Chelsea cruise to victory at Spurs to pile pressure on Mourinho
- Mourinho points to injuries and penalty award after defeat
Tottenham Hotspur's Portuguese head coach Jose Mourinho
Image credit: Getty Images
The Portuguese has done it plenty of times at Spurs already, too. Tottenham beat Manchester City in November having had less than 34 percent of the ball, scoring two goals from just four shots.
But one major flaw appeared against Chelsea that meant Mourinho's negative tactics were never going to come through - Harry Kane was not playing. Without the genius of Kane, who has morphed into an incredible No 10, equally adept creating chances as he is scoring them, Spurs don't have the individual brilliance to open teams up on their rare forays forward, which Mourinho's tactics rely upon.
The result was a performance like that in the pouring north London rain on Thursday night. Mourinho packed his midfield to nullify Chelsea but an innovative, modern-thinking coach like Thomas Tuchel saw it coming, surprisingly deploying Mason Mount off the front two and it opened up a Spurs side who were simply not prepared for such tactical flexibility.
Chelsea were in fact not very good at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. A more in-form frontline would have put Chelsea to the sword given the space they were afforded, but the fact that Mourinho's former employers strolled to such a comfortable victory, without even having to find anything like their top gear, is just as telling.
It was not so long ago Spurs were top, so such criticism may seem somewhat churlish, but pretty much all of Spurs' attacking play came through two men working in tandem like never before - Kane and Heung-min Son.
'I'm doing my best' - Mourinho on bizarre Bale situation
As the pair became the most fruitful partnership the Premier League has ever seen in terms of goal combinations, all was rosy and the Mourinho way was a popular one. But scratch the very top of the surface, and the flaws were not hard to find.
The next top goalscorer in the Spurs team this season other than Kane or Son is Tanguy Ndombele with three league goals, and then full-back Serge Aurier with two. Manchester City have six players with three or more league goals so far.
That is no slight on the players, they are simply not given the licence to get forward and attack because the Mourinho way is let Kane and Son do it, the rest have defensive work to do.
And then there is the baffling treatment of Gareth Bale. Having returned to much fanfare, Bale has started just two league games, and even more unfathomably, only come off the bench in four. Spurs needed a goal against Chelsea, Mourinho had a substitution left, but he left the Real Madrid loanee on the sidelines, electing instead not to make any further changes.
Bale may not be anything like what he was, but he could at least offer something, anything, to mix things up. Instead it appears Bale's signing was simply a PR stunt that would look good.
There is no doubting Mourinho has been one of the greatest managers ever, but why he will never be regarded as the best, up there with Sir Alex Ferguson, is his unwillingness to adapt. Ferguson built three dynasties at Manchester United, all playing a varied style of football. The Mourinho way has been successful, and some, but now, with football played in a different way to when the Portuguese conquered Europe 11 years ago, Mourinho cannot compete at the very top any more.
At Tottenham, they replaced a manager with a vision with one who cannot see the wood from the trees. And now we are starting to see what a monumental error that was.
Abraham fires Roma to victory over 10-man Empoli
Roma off to winning start at Salernitana
Share this article