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In first interview, Mourinho promises to bring “passion” to Tottenham Hotspur

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The key word is “passion.”

Tottenham Hotspur Training Session Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur Head Coach Jose Mourinho has opened up to the public for the first time since replacing Mauricio Pochettino in north London. The Portuguese manager gave his opening remarks to the Spurs faithful in an interview posted on Tottenham’s website, and it’s pretty much what we expected — he’s very happy to be here, and he’s ready to bring passion back to Spurs.

“I couldn’t be happier and look forward to the challenge. What can I promise? Passion, real passion. Passion for my job, but also passion for my Club, that’s the way I have been all my career and I want to try, obviously, everything to bring happiness to everyone who loves the Club.”

If there’s something that has been absent from Tottenham recently, it’s passion. Results have been bad. Performances have been flat. Spurs have looked like a cardboard cutout of themselves at times, and Mourinho says he wants to change that. And he could! If there’s one thing you can say about Jose, it’s that he certainly knows how to be emotional when the situation calls for it.

One of the great worries when a new manager comes in is which players are going to be shipped off as the new guy evaluates the squad and decides how to mold it into his image. Mourinho says that this isn’t a problem this time — he likes the squad he has coming in, and he thinks they can do very, very good things from day one.

“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. It didn’t happen many times. To be honest, the majority of the times we go to clubs and we always think ‘We like some, I don’t like enough’ and you think immediately about what to do to change, what to do to make an approach between your ideas and the profile of the players.

“This is a completely different case, and these are not words of the moment, they are not words of me being the Tottenham Head Coach, these are words that I told and repeated in the last three, four, five years, even as an opponent.

“I always told about the club’s potential, I always told about the qualities of the players, I always told about the magnificent work the club was doing to keep all the good players that the majority of the big clubs in Europe would be looking for.

“I really like this squad. Of course, I’m not going to say names, I’m not going to tell you individuals because this is completely against my concept of what a team has to be, but I like a lot the ability of the squad.”

Mourinho also discussed his approach to bringing through and playing young players, especially from the academy. That has always been something for which Mourinho has been criticized, and to be honest it’s a fair criticism with a lot of evidence behind it. Spurs are a club that prioritizes and emphasizes bringing through and developing young talent, and Mourinho says that he plans to do it in north London. It’s worth noting however that Mourinho’s answer here is a lot more carefully constructed, and definitely more cagy.

”There is not one manager in the world who does not like to play young players and help young players to evolve, there is not one. The problem is sometimes you get into clubs and the work that is below you is not good enough to produce these players, but when you have them, the managers are always happy to develop these players, so I look to our history and you see that the Academy is always giving the talent the first team needs. Of course, I also look forward to work with that profile.”

Getting off on the right foot is always important when you’re a manager at a new club, and that’s doubly important when you’re Jose Mourinho and you’re replacing the best and most popular manager Spurs have had since Bill Nicholson. Interviews that originate from the club itself tend to be more sanitized than off-the-cuff interviews with the media as well.

But if the benchmark is to say the right things and not drool all over your shirt, then congratulations — Jose has passed his first test. We’ll undoubtedly learn more about his approach in the coming days and weeks.