After Tottenham Hotspur lost 3-0 at Manchester City on Saturday, their fourth loss in five Premier League matches and continuing a stretch that has seen them take just 12 points from their last 12 games, the media narrative has shifted from “how far can Mourinho take this team” to “will Mourinho last the season.”
The answer to the second question, according to David Ornstein, is “quite possibly.”
Writing in The Athletic, Ornstein paints a bleak picture for Spurs fans hoping to see the back of Jose Mourinho sooner rather than later. In his weekly Ornstein on Monday column (£), he writes that Mourinho’s contract at Tottenham does NOT have a “break clause,” meaning that should they part ways with him early they would be on the hook for a huge severance payout. The implication is that for this reason (along with Daniel Levy’s general reluctance) there are currently no indications that Mourinho is in danger of imminently losing his job.
“The recent poor run of form has seen some supporters question Mourinho’s future in north London but there is no suggestion the club are considering replacing him. Furthermore, The Athletic understands the contract he signed in November 2019 does not include a break clause.
“Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino midway through last season on a deal keeping him at Spurs until the summer of 2023, with no exit option for either side. It means that if Tottenham felt a change in direction was needed, the Portuguese — who is among the highest-earning managers in world football — would be entitled to a significant payout.”
— David Ornstein, The Athletic
Ornstein goes on to suggest that the lack of a break clause, which would allow both parties to terminate the managerial contract if certain conditions are met, suggests that Tottenham and Mourinho “view this as a long-term relationship.”
Does this mean that Mourinho is definitely sticking around for the duration of his contract? Absolutely not. The expectations for Mourinho this season were a trophy and top four. Spurs are still in two cup competitions — the League Cup final in April against the same City team that just thrashed them 3-0, and the Europa League — and a win in either of those could either signal an intention to continue this long-term relationship or (perhaps) allow both sides to claim victory and walk away this summer.
There’s also the possibility that things could simply have to get significantly worse before Levy would countenance a costly divorce, and there remains the financial disincentives for Spurs to spend a huge buyout of Mourinho’s contract before fans are allowed back in Premier League stadiums. Even so, Spurs have league matches upcoming against West Ham on February 21 sandwiched between Europa League ties against Wolfsberg. After that come home matches against Burnley and Crystal Palace, followed by the North London Derby at the Emirates.
The next month could be extremely informative as to where Tottenham’s managerial future lies. But it does seem as though Spurs fans will need to grit their teeth for a while yet.