An Early Look At Mourinho’s Tottenham Tactics

An Early Look At Mourinho’s Tottenham Tactics

Jose Mourinho has returned to the Premier
League after his spell at Manchester United. Although that stint yielded three trophies,
it’s hard to see at as a significant success overall and the Portuguese manager will want
to rehabilitate his reputation in English football. At Tottenham Hotspur, he has an
excellent opportunity – a squad of high quality, a well-developed infrastructure,
and a new stadium all mark out Spurs as a club heading in the right direction, just
in need of freshening up. The Champions League is a good opportunity
for Mourinho to show how he has changed things quickly – as Spurs have qualified, this
game can be used to test his principles against high quality opposition. As these stats from
OneFootball show, Spurs have scored a lot but conceded a lot too, not least in the 7-2
defeat at home to Bayern Munich, their next opponents. Mourinho will want to tighten up
while not sacrificing the qualities his team have going forwards. Mourinho has assumed various tactical identities
in his various managerial spells – he is not just a dour pragmatist as sometimes painted
– and this Spurs team should elicit a more attacking version. Although it’s early in
his tenure in North London, and so this is a broad overview, there are a few noticeable
features of Spurs under his leadership. The clearest tactical decision Mourinho has
made is to play his 4-2-3-1 with a lop-sided build-up, with three at the back, the right
back Serge Aurier pushed up, and Lucas Moura staying more narrow while Son Heung-Min generally
stays wider. If Aurier pushes up very high, this can create a kind of square or rectangle
in midfield, with one of Kane or Dele Alli dropping off. This achieves solidity across all areas of
the pitch in case Tottenham are turned over, and also allows any of the front four to make
vertical runs to find space between the lines. Mourinho has clearly decided that the long-range,
penetrative passing of Toby Alderweireld is a significant weapon in his team’s armoury,
while also looking to maintain the rapid movement between the lines that was a Spurs’ hallmark
under Mauricio Pochettino. Spur’s build up positioning allows them to advance the
ball securely, with myriad passing options, while Alderweireld assesses his options and
decides whether to launch the sort of through pass that yielded two goals against Bournemouth. These kinds of passes rely on movement and
here, Spurs have good form on which to build. In Kane, they have a striker who can lead
the line or drop off, while Dele Alli appears to be rediscovering his form as a sort of
shadow striker, making runs behind into space created by his teammates’ movement. [PIC 5 and 6] In addition, Son Heung-Min excels at runs
from outside to in, attacking the channel between the opposition full back and nearside
centre back. Under Pochettino, these runs were often the result of quick interchanges
of passes in tight spaces – under Mourinho, the same sort of runs instead are coming from
more direct passes, although Spurs will still be capable of generating attacking options
in tighter areas between the lines. But this tallies with Mourinho’s desire to transition
more directly, and one could argue that there are similarities to the fluidity of his front
three at Porto, backed up by a more workmanlike unit who won back the ball before shifting
it quickly up to the attacking trio. It’s no secret that Eric Dier was coveted
by Mourinho when he was at Manchester United, so he’s likely to be the fixture alongside
Harry Winks in the double pivot. Generally they’re playing pretty narrowly in front
of the back three/four – Dier is obviously a ball-winner, while Winks is a steady passer,
capable of clever through balls but not generally a go-to progressive passer from deep. Mourinho has options: Christian Eriksen, Giovani
Lo Celso, Tanguy Ndombele, and Moussa Sissoko are all very different players and could add
different things – creativity, high volume progressive passing, ball carrying, and pressing
– to varying degrees. It’s likely that Mourinho has decided to build directly from
the back in part because his current first choice can shift the ball quickly to those
who can do more damage, or be bypassed altogether by Alderweireld. But a Winks/Dier double pivot
isn’t exactly optimal, especially against teams who sit deep and deny Spurs space between
the lines. And given that the front unit seem well suited
to Mourinho’s style and preferred 4-2-3-1, it’s unlikely that Spurs will shift to a
system that gives three in midfield, especially given that Dele Alli is well-set to become
the key player under Mourinho. Instead, the Portuguese manager will probably
end up to choosing who works as a midfield pair on a game-by-game basis and making frequent
changes in-game in this area too. He has options, but to retain speed of transition and the
team’s shape, it’s not yet clear how he’ll use them. The new manager has got to work quickly. Spurs
are playing with the sort of defensive compactness that Mourinho wants, while pressing intensely,
at least in the first half of games. A high defensive line, direct, quick transitions,
and a mobile front attacking unit with pace and intelligent movement are also what one
would expect of a Mourinho team – at Spurs he has most of the building blocks to fashion
a side capable of playing his preferred style of football, which is probably why he’s
been able to start his tenure successfully and adapted the side pretty quickly.

About the Author: Garret Beatty


  1. Im glad he joined spurs, mostly bcos I wanna see the praise he gets, from those spurs fans who use to insult him either for his tactics or arrogance on the press, when he was with Chelsea and also united, now they will definitely understand why he is called the special one, I can bet they will all tell you, he's got a stronger character and personality than pochetinno

  2. Is it just me or there's real similarity between his counter attacking Real Madrid team and this one.
    Spurs are a really dangerous side, dark horse in the champions league 👀

  3. If anyone is wondering why Mourinho plays more attacking football now than has done in a long time. It's mainly because his long term Assistant Rui Faria who was the actual brains of that very defensive, counter attacking football moved on last season. Both he and Mourinho had worked very closely together at every club since they first met at FC Porto. So I fully expect to see more exciting attacking football under Mourinho from now on even in the bigger matches.

  4. Definitely looking forward to how Mourinho shapes this Tottenham side.
    Great video as always, Tifo! I've got a lot to learn from you guys🙌😁

  5. hey Tifo, could you make a video about Jorge Jesus's Flamengo who's dominating South America?
    Love your content, greetings from Brazil

  6. You should have mentioned his assistent coach that he brought from Lille to Tottenham, that guy is known to be a tactical genius.

  7. I would say he learned a lot from pep and loop after Jose left united and being a pundit of sky sports during early games of the PL

  8. He plays a classical 4-2-3-1 as he usually does. To me he didnt show any sign of a ''new, adaptable Mourinho'' but i think in a mid season it is logical to change less. Right now i think we are moving forward with a wind coming from the change of the coach but this style of football is as i said old and a classic style no one uses it anymore, it may not work in a long period.I hope when it comes to adapt, he can do it. Right now how i see is he sımplified the game especially for the attackers and gave them freedom and it brought results. After Poch s highly tactical and detailed approach, players are happy to be playing with less thinking and more freedom i think

  9. Son score goal of the season…. but spurs defence not looked in proper shape but they are deadly in counter attack and sissoko play more agressive

  10. Another great video and one I was looking forward to.

    I'd love a video on both the Arsenal and Everton managerial situations. Perhaps a rundown of the managers that are candidates and the managers that should be. Like a sensible transfers video but with managers. I believe a similar video was made about United around Jose's sacking this time last year.

  11. This didn't first appear in The Pacific the most expensive place to read about football by journalists you used to read for free, on other sources, until some investors saw a chance to monetise journalism.

  12. Jose need to start domble and sissoko or dembele and dier..
    Because wink can't win the ball and creat chance..right wing also always be a prob right now..lucas moura can't explore his position because his body too week..he always lose the ball with hard defendsive

  13. Barring the United result, Jose and Tottenham have really done a solid job since him becoming their manager. They will be a dangerous side going into the second half of the season.

  14. Spurs under Poch, at least in his final 12/18 months, was possibly even more direct than under Mourinho. It was literally turn the ball over and ping it up to Son or Moura as quick as possible, he'd leave two up top at all times, of which one was always either Son or Moura, specifically for this. The biggest pitfall during Spurs fall from grace under Poch was that the movement of players became poor and the passing was extremely laboured when facing a low defensive block, as against Newcastle where they had 70% possession and never looked like scoring. Under Mourinho, Spurs are passing through the lines quicker and with much more incisive passing again. It's every bit as attacking and good to watch as Poch's Spurs ever were.

  15. Chocolate mouss being converted to yaya toure. I would of rather ndombele be that guy but 🤷🏽‍♂️ guy seems to have a fitness problem.

    Dele is turning into a beast. I dunno what mourinho has said to him but he looks like a different baller.

  16. Can you do an episode on all of the Red Bull teams around the world and how they are involved with these teams. Maybe there is an episode on this already that I don’t know about.

  17. Very curious to see Tottenham against Bayern. Besides the individual errors, the game with MU was disapointing tatticaly, even though this is what Mourinho is known for. Bad pressure activation, a lot of space between the middlefield and the defense, and also lack of capacity to play inside in the attack.

  18. If you're a Spurs fan here, can we please stop this 'we are back' nonsense. Mourinho has only been in charge 5 games and yes we've won 80% of them, but there is still a mountain to climb. There are still core players who have contract issues, injury plagued victims and some who are simply not good enough. In terms of tactics, Kane only excelled vs Burnley as they played 442 and he was able to find space between the central midfield and defence, all you need is a holding mid to fill in that space and he won't get on the ball e.g. vs United.

  19. Can you do a video on Steven Gerrards tactics at rangers, especially when he makes subs because I haven't got a clue what he is thinking half the time. Brandon Barker on in a cup final.

  20. I wish him the semi-best. if they take points from mancity I'll be happy but of course I hope they don't beat us (chelsea) in the race for top4.
    and tbh spurs are a very exciting team right now. it would be amazing if tottenham, wolves (if they keep up their form) and manu keep arsenal out of the european spots

  21. I want jose to drop eriksen and use lo celso/lucas moura in the attacking midfield with eric dier and sissoko/ndombele in the center-midfield

  22. As soon as I heard about the appointment, I knew Spurs would be dangerous. Mourinho«s United didn't have the type of players he usually likes, they seriously lacked steel and aggressiveness. While Spurs have that in droves. Son, Kane, and Alli are exactly the types of players Mourinho likes to use – a winger with massive goal threat and work rate, a powerful striker who is clinical and good at distribution, and an attacking midfielder who has high spatial intelligence and also scores goals (aka his "Lampard / Deco / Sneijder" role).

  23. I would love to see you guys make a video about Slaven Bilic West brom tactics and/or Marco Rose Mønchengladbach tactics

  24. Interesting review. The three that build up from the back are key, especially vertonghen who is playing as LB in defence but as a LCB in offence. Also he is rotation of players and their versatility is also helping. For example Moussa Sissoko has operated as a CM and as LW. Dele Alli and Harry Kane have a lot of freedom in their movement, both operating as CF and Second Strikers, with Kane even receiving the ball in very wide positions. A lot of fluidity in their offensive organisation

  25. What is it? Four games? And mofos are already analysing The Actress' tactics. People need to calm down, especially the fawning Tottenham fans, the fawning 'journalists' and everyone other mofos that's trying to make a name off The Actress' name.

  26. You stupid mongrel hes playing a youth team against Bayern to rest key players, do your research before. He has already qualified for the champions league R16

  27. Seriously, the lips on Aurier at 5:13 are way too much. This is always the problem with white people in charge of depicting black people. Get it right or don't bother at all!

  28. Need to take a look at how Nuno has developed some of those wolves players, traore, Neves, Jimenez, Jota, not to mention their defence, coady who Liverpool let go, boly, dendoncker etc, created some stars

  29. Cus everyone shits on all the trophies now apart from the prem and CL, I kinda forget he actually won trophies at man utd

  30. I just know that he won't use Ndombele well and his potential will be stunted because he wants blue collars only in that midfield

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