Tottenham Hotspur’s dour 0-0 draw against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium yesterday was the perfect cure for insomnia — just a spectacularly bad football match with few redeeming qualities. But there were a couple, if you’re the kind of fan who reaches for the positives in any situation no matter how dire.
We’ll get to those. But for now, let’s wallow a bit in frustration and disappointment. I’ve said a number of times that Jose Mourinho needed to win over skeptical fans like me if he wanted his tenure at Tottenham to be a success. I said I’d give him a chance. Well, as of now, he blew it.
So the theme today feels appropriate at a time when it sure looks like Spurs don’t have even a semblance of a plan on how to move forward. But I have an idea on how to fix it! Here are your player ratings to the theme of managers to replace Jose Mourinho at Tottenham Hotspur.
5 stars: Mauricio Pochettino
Unbelievably, one of the best managers in the world is currently without a club! Pochettino has a proven track record with two Premier League clubs and a reputation for developing young players. His teams play attractive, high energy, progressive football and he’s a project manager who can get the most out of a group of underperforming players. He’s even been to a Champions League final! He’d be a perfect fit at Tottenham Hotspur when Jose Mourinho is fired, and Daniel Levy would be a fool not to consider him.
Tanguy Ndombele (Community — 3.0): Tanguy finally got his shot in the second half after Gio Lo Celso went out with what was later revealed as an ankle knock. And you know what? He was really, really good. The best player on the pitch, in fact. He was certainly a mite rusty, and a five-star rating here isn’t the Platonic ideal of what a five-star rating should be, but compared to the rest of the dross that were Spurs outfield players, he was magnificent. His passing was progressive, he was constantly looking upfield, and was clearly the creative engine for Spurs in the second half.
Watch Tanguy’s movement on this counterattack. Nobody else on the team is making that pass, or drifting out to show for the return pass. His cross in is also good and if Son is on form or Harry makes the run to the back post that’s a shot on target, maybe even a goal.
Here’s another one. Look at that forward pass and progressive movement.
I’ve seen criticisms that Ndombele “doesn’t move well” or “is slow.” Don’t play into lazy narratives. He’s not the lock-down defensive midfield anchor that people want, but his offensive skills and instincts are so good, and he needs to be in Tottenham’s midfield. Spurs were bad on Thursday, but that wasn’t Tanguy Ndombele’s fault.
4 stars: Ralph Hassenhuttl
There’s something about Southampton managers, and Tottenham should consider going after another one. Hassenhuttl took a Soton team in free-fall after a 9-0 drubbing and got them back to playing respectable football with limited resources. His pressing style while at Ingolstadt earned him the name “Alpine Klopp”. He’s relaxed, has developed players who buy into and appreciate his system, plays progressive football, and is succeeding. He’d be great at Spurs.
Hugo Lloris (Community — 3.5): It’s not like he had a whole lot to do, but Hugo came up big when it really mattered, blocking Callum Wilson’s breakaway and saving Spurs from a loss. Not much he could’ve done about the ball that went into the net earlier, though it was thankfully called back.
3 stars: David Pleat
Look, let’s be honest — if Mourinho goes tomorrow, Spurs will probably need a caretaker manager to get them through the next period. So why not go back to the well? Pleat has had four spells with Spurs as manager, three of them as caretaker. I don’t care if he’s 75, let’s get the old boy back and let him have a go.
Giovani Lo Celso (Community — 2.5): He left with a knock at halftime, but he was one of the only decent things to come out of that first half. Might have turned out better if some of the others could actually kick the ball.
Janby Alderweirtonghen (Community — both 3.0): Wasn’t it nice to see them both back there? It was nice to see them back there. I can’t criticize either of them too harshly for their defense, and if this is the last ride for Janby Alderweirtonghen, then I only wish they could’ve gotten a better send-off.
2 stars: Eddie Howe
Eddie Howe was once the darling of the English managerial hoi-polloi, the man who brought up Bournemouth from the depths of the Football League to the Premier League and kept them there. He was even a strong candidate to replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal at one point. That flower has faded now. Despite the point, Bournemouth still look all but certain to relegate, have had a string of disappointing signings, and his tactics have been figured out by the rest of the league (apart from Mourinho, apparently). He’s done good work at Bournemouth, but this would be the wrong time to make a move to a big club.
Everyone else (Community — Ben Davies 2.5, Moussa Sissoko 2.0, Serge Aurier 2.0, Son Heung-Min 2.0, Harry Winks 2.0, Harry Kane 2.0, Steven Bergwijn 2.0, Lucas Moura 2.0, Erik Lamela 2.0. Jose Mourinho 1.5):
1 star: Keeping Jose Mourinho
Category is self-explanatory.
No Tottenham players were as bad as keeping Jos... wait.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating