Tottenham Hotspur’s trip to Bayern Munich in the Champions League may have come at just the right time for José Mourinho.
Wednesday’s game is meaningless in terms of points, with both teams already qualified for the next round. But if principle is all that’s left to play for, then it will best suit the man who is well accustomed to making points. The new Spurs manager has historically been at his best when placed in the position of the underdog.
José Mourinho’s unexpected clean-sweep of European trophies during his time as Porto manager still illustrates this best. Likewise, his first spell at Chelsea was initially anything but certain, in a league that was at the time dominated by Fergie’s Man Utd, and Arsenal’s invincibles.
While Mourinho was expected to win domestically at Inter Milan (and duly delivered), his real challenge was to make Inter a force in the Champions League. When Inter came upon Messi and Guardiola’s Barcelona in the 2010 semi-final, the end result was a masterclass in underdog football. The eradication of Bayern in the final also bodes well for Tottenham’s Wednesday night’s clash.
The physical and psychological breakdown of Barcelona was extended for the entire 2011-2012 season, as Madrid snatched the league back from Messi and Co. While no Madridista would admit to their manager being an underdog in any context, the truth is the only reason José Mourinho was hired in the first place was to halt the Barcelona steamroller of that era.
Mourinho has since recalled that gruelling 2011-2012 season which saw Madrid rack up the most wins, points and goals ever recorded in the Spanish league. He claims those stats should silence those who would label him a defensive coach, and on paper that’s very hard to refute.
Perhaps it’s Mourinho’s personality which sees him labelled defensive. The man is a walking conflict generator. He wants and needs a clearly defined enemy in order to operate – and he doesn’t mind if that enemy is the entire world.
With that in mind, the North London fishbowl – just up the road from Arsenal and Chelsea – could be the ideal place for him to thrive.
The lack of meaningful points up for grabs on Wednesday won’t translate into a night off for Spurs or their manager. Rather, José Mourinho will take this opportunity to make his own point.
Last modified: January 22, 2020 11:41 PM UTC