Depart ENIC, I say

Mourinho should never have been Spurs manager, writes Stephen Pollard. But the real problem is owner ENIC and Daniel Levy

April 19, 2021 15:19

It is so typically Spursy that on the morning when Spurs fans should be celebrating the departure of Jose Mourinho, we are instead hanging our heads in shame that the club has signed up to be a founder member of the grotesquely misnamed European Super League.

Even before a ball had been kicked under his management, it was obvious that Mourinho was the wrong man to replace Mauricio Pochettino. Mourinho may once have had the (deserved) reputation of a winner, but everything about him was wrong for Spurs – not least his style of football. For sure, there were games when Kane and Son ran rampant and scored as if for fun, but that always seemed to be something he regarded as a problem rather than the point of playing.

But the problem with Mourinho went far deeper even than that. His style of management by humiliation may once have worked, but the idea that you get the best out of anyone by telling them that, in effect, they don’t deserve to wear the club shirt is from another era. Instead of trying to rebuild Dele Alli’s confidence, for example, Mourinho seems to have decided to use him as an example to other players of what would happen if they didn’t do things his way.

Mourinho was lucky to have managed so many games without a crowd. Had fans been there, I think this day would have come some months ago. Reports last week suggest he had not, yet, ‘lost the dressing room’, as the phrase has it. But he most certainly lost the fans – albeit that he never had them in the first place.

I sit in a group of four friends. We have been debating for weeks whether or not to renew if Mourinho was still manager. Deep down, we knew we all would. Spurs fandom is a disease we can’t shake off. But even though we all knew the real problem isn’t Mourinho but Daniel Levy, the chairman, and ENIC, the owners, who are clearly adept at building a stadium but less so at ensuring there is something worth watching inside, none of us would have predicted that on the day we celebrated Mourinho’s departure we would be even less sure about renewing. 

Levy’s decision to join the breakaway dozen – not so much a Super League as an Anglo-Spanish-Italian exhibition group – shames Spurs. It treats fans as an irrelevance and the other 86 league teams as expendable, destroying the integrity of the Premier League and the Champions League in the pursuit of a few hundred million more. The Premier League must give them an ultimatum: walk away from the ESL or be booted out of the Premier League. And whatever they then do, they have shamed themselves. There is now only one course of action that can salvage Spurs (and the owners of the other ESL signatories): ENIC must sell, and Levy must go.

Depart, ENIC I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!

April 19, 2021 15:19

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