Even by Jose Mourinho standards, the blame game has started early.

Lack of training, intensity and Tottenham players being “lazy” in the way they press to try and win back possession.

Of course it is never Mourinho’s fault. But to start calling out the players just one game into a new season is a risky strategy.

After all, Mourinho said himself that it has been a “crazy” pre-season disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and the players’ fitness levels are nowhere near where they should be.

Harry Kane had one full training session with the squad, Moussa Sissoko just two and yet Mourinho is already calling them out.

Back in the day, Mourinho would have expected a reaction from his squad, for the players to go out and prove him wrong and yet the dressing room dynamic has changed in the last 20 years.


Gone are the days when Mourinho performed miracles to win the Champions League with Porto, when the Chelsea title winning teams of 2005 and 2006 would run through brick walls for him and when jibes would inspire rather than divide.

Mourinho finds himself in a difficult place at Tottenham where he was brought in to win trophies and yet the squad looks a long way from being title contenders and a domestic cup is his best chance.

But Mourinho will need the players onside to do that and yet, as viewers of Amazon’s fly-on-the-wall documentary All Or Nothing will already know, he is in a combative mood.

Tottenham boss Mourinho is as confrontational as ever.

Danny Rose has been ostracised, not even given a squad number after a frank exchange of views with the Spurs boss who has claimed that his players are too nice and need to be “bs” to win trophies.


Last week, Mourinho called it on with chairman Daniel Levy in his pre-match press conference.

“I want to make it very clear that the club – if you want to call it the club or the structure above me – knows I need a striker and they also want a striker,” said Mourinho.

Put simply: buy me a striker – or else. You absolutely know what will come next if they do not get him what he wants.

Mourinho won trophies at Manchester United and yet his reign at Old Trafford ended amid anger, acrimony and petty squabbling. He would call out the players, question the board and his negativity was so overwhelming it dragged everybody down.

Former United and Chelsea boss Mourinho arrived at Tottenham determined to smile more, show he had learned from his mistakes and yet, at the first sign of trouble, the old Jose kicks straight back in.

It left rival fans gloating after Tottenham’s defeat to Everton : “It’s started already.”

That is because calling out the players is an old school tactic, one that does not always work in the way it used to and that suggests Mourinho’s methods might be outdated.

The Tottenham dressing room was divided. Some not impressed at essentially being called out for not working hard enough.

Mourinho hooked Dele Alli at half time, tried four different partners with Kane but none of Alli, Heung-Min Son, Lucas Moura or Steven Bergwijn worked.


The lazy comment did not go down well with some players as left back Ben Davies echoed a view shared by several that they did work hard, it was not for lack of effort but they must improve.

Others, meanwhile, saw it as a fair criticism in football speak as they did not press hard enough, they did not press high enough and it did not work.

However, even some of those not upset by the lazy jibe do not agree with what they see as a negative approach and style of football when you consider Tottenham is a club founded winning with style.


Mourinho was brought in to replace Mauricio Pochettino to win trophies. To be ruthless and put silverware above all else.

Mourinho’s CV and track record show he is a proven winner.

His management style is confrontational and he is not afraid to upset people. But usually the rows come later after delivering some silverware.

This time, Mourinho is calling it on early.