Jose Mourinho’s chances of Tottenham success still hang in the balance after a year in charge

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No Tottenham fan will ever forget the extraordinary period between 7.41pm on November 19 2019 and 6.33am the following morning.

In the space of less than 12 hours the ever-popular Mauricio Pochettino was sacked in ruthless fashion and replaced by a man who will forever split opinion with those involved in football: Jose Mourinho.

Today marks a year since the Portuguese's appointment, and it's fair to say Mourinho continues to divide Spurs supporters, many of whom still pine for the cheerful demeanor of Pochettino over the snarling sultriness of his successor.

But after all drama and media attention (Amazon cameras and all) that came with his arrival, the key question remains: Has Mourinho actually improved Tottenham?

The football world was stunned as Jose Mourinho was appointed Tottenham manager last November
(Image: Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)

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In order to answer that, one has to look at where Spurs were when he took over.

Despite the glorious, thrilling, roller-coaster of a ride to the Champions League final under Pochettino, Spurs were looking very much at the end of an era at the beginning of last season.

They had not won in the Premier League in their last five games in a row leading up to Pochettino's dismissal, and particularly defensively looked a shadow of their former selves.

Mourinho's mission statement was clear – to turn the team from contenders into winners, and in doing so shore up the leaky back-line that had conceded seven against Bayern Munich in a humiliating home defeat a month earlier.

So, fast-forward 12 months and how is he doing?

It may seem a while ago now, but towards the end of last season the signs were not looking good.

Not all supporters were convinced by the appointment
(Image: Getty Images)

A dismal 0-0 draw with Bournemouth saw Spurs slip to ninth in the table with four games to go, and had many wondering whether Mourinho was, indeed, the busted flush many had predicted.

However, they then went on to pick up three wins from their last four, including a morale boosting north London derby victory over Arsenal, and in doing so qualified for the Europa League.

Since then, things have only been looking up.

A disappointing opening day defeat to Everton in the current campaign didn't see Mourinho panic, and since then the stats have been impressive: Second in the table, with the second most number of goals scored and the joint least number of goals conceded.

What has been most noteworthy is the sight of a notoriously fragile Spurs seemingly growing in mental strength, demonstrated by how they have bounced back from adversity.

Things did not always go swimmingly in Mourinho's first season
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

After the loss to Everton? They thumped Southampton 5-2 after going 1-0 down.

After conceding a last-minute equaliser against Newcastle? They beat Chelsea on penalties in the Carabao Cup.

After throwing away a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 with West Ham? They put in three gritty, hard-working performances to beat Burnley, Brighton and West Brom.

They have played some wonderful stuff at times, with Heung-min Son and particularly Harry Kane flourishing under Mourinho despite some initial scepticism (cough, Paul Merson, cough).

Things are looking rosy on N17.

And yet… and yet…

Mourinho has brought the very best out of Harry Kane this season…
(Image: Pool via REUTERS)

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Any Spurs fan will tell you that they have seen this all before, particularly under Pochettino.

This side have always been capable of playing good football, and thrashing any team on their day.

But it takes another gear to actually go and win something.

All the ingredients are there, yet you never know when that soft underbelly will be exposed and 'Spursyness' will come to the surface again, as we witnessed in the West Ham debacle.

Despite the impressive stats, the defence does still look suspect at times, and there are question marks over whether the centre-back options of an ageing Toby Alderweireld, an error-prone Davinson Sanchez and a slow Eric Dier are good enough to compete for major honours.

And despite their improving strength in depth, the Europa League defeat to Antwerp shows that without Kane and Son they can still look toothless.

Another serious injury to one or either of them would be a potentially knockout blow.

But Dele Alli has failed to spark under the manager
(Image: Carl Recine/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

There are also question-marks over how Mourinho has dealt with Dele Alli.

When he first arrived, all guns blazing and challenging the midfielder with his 'are you Alli's brother?' jibe, the former England star seemed to relish playing under Mourinho, scoring three goals and creating three assists in his first four games.

Since then he has become a shadow of his former self yet again, however, and although it is not clear where the truth lies, surely Mourinho's man-management skills have to be questioned.

The next few weeks will give us some indication as to exactly where Spurs are, with huge matches against Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Leicester all coming up before Christmas.

Will Mourinho be celebrating with a trophy this season?
(Image: Pool via REUTERS)

A good points return from them, and we really could be talking about the possibility of Mourinho proving the doubters wrong and recording an extraordinary fourth Premier League title.

If it all goes wrong, however, the sceptics will again question whether he is doing a better job in north London than Pochettino ever did.

One thing is for sure – it won't be dull.

With Mourinho, it rarely is.

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