Exactly a year ago today, Tottenham fans will have woken up with a deep sense of shame about the events that occurred the night before.
‘Tottenham 2-7 Bayern Munich‘ is a scoreline that will forever be etched in the minds of Spurs supporters and players alike. The same day in 2020 saw them beat Maccabi Haifa by the same scoreline in the Europa League, but 12 months earlier was a game far more important to their reputation.
It represented another chance for Spurs to really show what they were about in the Champions League, an opportunity to get a result against one of the superpowers and show that getting to the final a few months earlier wasn’t a fluke.
Harry Kane holds the ball during Tottenham’s chastening 7-2 defeat by Bayern last October
Spurs were completely blown away by a Bayern side who went on to win the competition
Alas, it was the beginning of the end for Pochettino and probably the darkest day in his entire five years in the dugout. Fast forward a year, and with Jose Mourinho in the hotseat things look remarkably different now.
While Pochettino had to deal with two transfer windows without a single incoming transfer, Mourinho has been backed to the hilt by Daniel Levy and deals that didn’t get done for the previous manager are being signed off without hesitation now.
It is worth pointing out that Tottenham became the first team in Premier League history to not sign a player in an entire transfer window under Pochettino – and then they went and did it for a second time a few months later. Two full windows, not one arrival.
At the time, the Argentine was furious and even came out in the media to express his thoughts, insisting that his job title should be changed given his lack of involvement with recruitment.
‘I am not in charge, I know nothing about the situation of my players,’ he told a press conference. ‘I am only coaching them, trying to get the best from them.
‘Maybe the club need to change my title description, because my job now is to coach the team. It is not a question for me, it is a question for the club. Maybe the club are going to change my title description.
Mauricio Pochettino had to endure two full transfer windows without signing a single player
Exactly a year on from the 7-2 Bayern loss, Spurs won 7-2 against Maccabi Haifa – with many of Jose Mourinho’s new signings front and centre in the victory
BIG-SPENDING SPURS UNDER MOURINHO
Since Jose Mourinho took over at Spurs a year ago, the club have bought the following players…
Steven Bergwijn – £27m
Gedson Fernandes – (£4m loan fee)
Giovani Lo Celso – £29m
Sergio Reguilon – £27m
Matt Doherty – £15m
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – £15m
Joe Hart – Free
Gareth Bale – Loan
Carlos Vinicius – loan with a £36m option to buy
‘Of course I am the boss, deciding the strategy to play, training, mentality, philosophy in my area, but in another area, I think I am the coach.’
Mourinho has now come in – as the head coach, in fact – but in reality he is well and truly immersed in every aspect of the club, from coaching to recruitment and beyond. You can see his fingerprints on every arrival.
Mourinho said he wanted the squad to be tougher, and so in came Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Southampton, a much-needed element of steel in the midfield.
Mourinho said he wanted Premier League experience, so in came Matt Doherty from Wolves to improve the right back position.
Gedson Fernandes and newest arrival Carlos Vinicius are from the Jorge Mendes stable, the intermediary who just happens to be good friends with Mourinho – and his agent. Jose is a head coach by title, but very much the boss in every respect.
Pochettino, meanwhile, had to make do with a real lack of signings, and then when he eventually was backed in the final window before his sacking, there were still an alarming number of issues to be addressed in his squad.
Danny Rose and Kyle Walker at their peak were the best full backs in the league, but by the time 2019 rolled around, Spurs’ full backs left plenty to be desired.
Current boss Mourinho has been backed by the Spurs hierarchy in way that Pochettino wasn’t
Steven Bergwijn is just one of the eight players through the door since Mourinho arrived
Against Bayern, Aurier and Rose were run ragged and many believed at the time that they were easily the weakest partnership of any side competing in the top half of the Premier League.
Of course, fast forward a year and Spurs fans can be excited at the prospect of watching Sergio Reguilon and Doherty this season. A penny for Poch’s thoughts?
He was also desperate to take some of the weight off Harry Kane’s shoulders, but all he got in terms of a back-up striker was Fernando Llorente, who stayed two years and ended up with just two Premier League goals.
For Mourinho, the wage structure has been smashed with the arrival of Gareth Bale, Vinicius is a young, exciting striker to get the fans off their seats and Reguilon looks an incredible addition from Real Madrid.
Sergio Reguilon’s arrival from Real Madrid looks a really exciting prospect for Spurs fans
Levy was happy to smash the club’s wage structure to seal a return for Gareth Bale too
Tottenham have also sealed the loan signing of Carlos Vinicius, with an option to buy for £36m
It is interesting to look back at quotes from Levy in the latter stages of Pochettino’s reign, as he attempted to explain their lack of action in the transfer market.
At a supporters’ trust meeting, he explained that transfers were ‘tricky’, insisting that he was focused on ‘laying foundations’ and investing on youth.
He said the ‘easy way to success was to spend big money on players’ but he didn’t want to ‘jeopardise the club’.
Of course, a 31-year-old Bale is now being paid £300,000 a week by Spurs and money is seemingly no object under the new regime.
Levy has put all his eggs in Mourinho’s basket in the hope he guides them to major success
The club are currently playing in their shiny new stadium without a single fan in attendance
It was an object a few months ago though, when the club furloughed staff to save money during the coronavirus pandemic. They have also taken a huge loan out to get through the current climate, but are still spending big.
No fans are attending the club’s shiny new stadium in north London, yet the club are spending big to appease Mourinho and his new regime.
Perhaps Levy has seen the error of his ways in the latter stages of the Pochettino era and is desperate to avoid the same mistakes, but the situation at Spurs now is worlds away from what it was a year ago today.
It could be argued that perhaps Levy was being sensible with the club’s money in the wake of the new stadium being built, but by the same measure the Covid-19 pandemic will absolutely have huge financial ramifications too.
Pochettino will be watching with interest to see how Mourinho fares in his old position
Mourinho is head coach by title, but is fully involved in every aspect of the club
Spurs’ transfer dealings may well smash through the £100m mark this summer, which is a remarkable turn of events given the policy of the club under Pochettino.
Levy has put his eggs fully in Mourinho’s basket, and it is now left to the Portuguese boss to prove that he still has the capabilities to drag the side back into the top four.
There is a renewed sense of optimism in north London, and a whole host of new signings ready to push the club back to the heights of peak-Poch.
Spare a thought for the previous boss though, as he watches on from afar with more than a vested interest in what happens next.