Sunday 19 January 2020

To be or not to be with 'happy' prince

Jose is the Man Who Would Be King but he has a lot on his hands to win over Tottenham faithful

Jose Mourinho at Tottenham squad training
Jose Mourinho at Tottenham squad training
Spurs talisman Harry Kane with new Tottenham fitness coach Carlos Lalin

Some claim the expression "Hamlet without the Prince" originated in Dublin, when it was reported in the Daily Advertiser in 1785 that someone had attempted to promote a version of Shakespeare's play with the main character left out.

A bit like the Premier League you might think.

But hang about. He's back.

After eleven months out of the limelight, The Man Who Would Be King has a new job.

You'll find him on White Hart Lane where he's already assured the locals that he's their new best friend.

When Mourinho joined Chelsea in 2004, he arrived as the Special Prince.

By the time he was signed by Manchester United in 2016, he'd been around the block with stints at Inter Milan, Real Madrid and a second tempestuous run at Stamford Bridge.

At Old Trafford, conscious of the legacy of Alex Ferguson, Jose presented as the Humble Prince.

Having been named as the new Spurs boss, Mourinho showed he can bring something new to the role, pronouncing himself the Happy Prince.

In a soliloquy designed to soothe worried minds, he asked, "What can I promise? Passion. For my job, but also passion for my club. It's a privilege when a manager goes to a club and feels that happiness in relation to the squad he is going to have."

Press statements and dress rehearsals are one thing, but all actors know they must deliver on opening night. That's when the critics will be watching, pens poised like rapiers, laptops open with the nuclear code just a thumbprint away.

You can find a premonition of how doubtful Spurs supporters are viewing Mourinho in Elvis Presley's recording 'Are You Lonesome Tonight?'

"You read your line so cleverly and never missed a cue. Then came act two, you seemed to change and you acted strange…"

Act 2 begins tomorrow with curtain up at 12.30 when Jose sends out a Spurs side to take all three points at the London Stadium against West Ham, a club that's just one point behind them in the league.

You'd think Stratford, East London, would provide an ideal stage for Mourinho to strut his stuff on.

West Ham, without a win in their last seven games across all competitions, are just two places above the relegation zone. It's not a good look for manager Manuel Pellegrini, whose squad is in disarray and without injured first-choice keeper Lukasz Fabianski.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy knows what he's buying for what could amount to £13million a year on a three-and-a-half year contract.

He reckons he's hired a manager who can bring silverware, any silverware, to the club for the first time since 2008.

A league title has been but a shimmering mirage for Spurs since the fading memory of a glorious 1960-61 season. Can the many supporters view as a divisive Turbulent Prince fix Spurs?

He's certainly prepared for the job, having put a backroom team in place well in advance and having had the Spurs' squad analysed in depth ahead of the appointment he foresaw and positioned himself for.

Mourinho knows how to win tournaments as his record of four major European titles, eight domestic league trophies and eight domestic cups testify.

He'll believe his new club offers excellent potential to increase his personal title tally, knowing that Spurs have been there or thereabouts over the last few seasons under Mauricio Pochettino.

In case it's been forgotten during their recent slump, Mourinho's new club were Champions League finalists last season, beaten by a Liverpool squad that had been defeated in the previous season's final by Real Madrid.

Mourinho has inherited a squad capable of glory. It's a squad that, with Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min, can score goals. However it's an unsettled squad.

Chairman Levy is bullish on his new appointment, saying, "We believe he will bring energy and belief to the dressing room.'

But, and with Jose there's always a "but", his most recent stints with Chelsea and Manchester United didn't end well, leaving many fans feeling like those who thought they'd bought a bright new house only to later discover it was contaminated with pyrite backfill.

The Tottenham Hotspur Latin motto is Audere Est Facere (To Dare Is To Do).

If Jose reverts to his tried'n'trusted style of defensive, bus-parking football, the rot could set in earlier than expected among the already disgruntled Spurs' faithful.

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