Neil Humphreys: New hope or lost cause, Jose Mourinho?
Test against high-flying Liverpool will prove if the Special One still has his mojo
Every Liverpool supporter remembers the slip.
Steven Gerrard still dreams about his mistake. It was the day a title dream died.
He fell. The Reds tumbled. And the elusive English Premier League crown slipped away.
That's the Shakespearean tragedy, anyway, but the reality was far more prosaic.
Gerrard fell because Jose Mourinho pushed him.
He pushed every Red button on April 27, 2014.
He shoved the title contenders out of their comfort zone, tactically and metaphorically, and towards defeat.
Gerrard's lowest point was Mourinho's last real highlight, the last time he showed himself to be more of a clairvoyant than a manager.
He won trophies subsequently, with Chelsea and Manchester United.
But that mythical contest was the last time that Mourinho seemed to be a prophet, guiding a game towards a conclusion of his creation.
He knew he was going to beat Liverpool with a weakened team. And now, he must do so again.
He must guide a patched-up Tottenham Hotspur side to victory against the Reds to prove that his mojo has not entirely dissipated.
With the wary Spurs faithful still unsure of his suitability, he has to conjure another masterclass against Liverpool with a crafty mix of tactical insight, motivational genius and that devilish mischief.
He once revelled in this stuff. He wouldn't play the Reds without it.
Intriguingly, Mourinho has faced Liverpool more than any other opponent in his 20-year managerial career.
In 28 matches, he has compiled a more-than-respectable 12 wins and nine draws against them.
He knows how to beat a side that seldom gets beaten.
Or at least, he used to.
Indeed, Gerrard's personal suffering tends to overlook Mourinho's personal achievement in that 2014 upset.
Like his Spurs side today, his decimated Chelsea squad were riddled with injuries and self-doubt.
Eden Hazard, Petr Cech and John Terry were all out.
Among veterans like Mark Schwarzer, he had to pick a 21-year-old relative unknown called Mohamed Salah.
Chelsea didn't have a prayer, but Mourinho had a plan.
He slowed everything and squeezed Liverpool's men in the middle.
He had the same mission then as now.
Stop the clock. Waste time.
Walk to throw-ins. Rotate goal-kick takers.
Do not return the ball. Irritate at every opportunity.
In preparation for that game, Mourinho actually organised set-piece routines in time-wasting.
Chelsea faced the fastest team in the EPL with the slowest game plan. And it worked.
Unlike Juergen Klopp's emphasis on width, Brendan Rodgers' Reds generally played through the middle, via Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez.
Chelsea crowded central midfield and forced Liverpool to retreat. And it worked.
Gerrard was caught out, too far back, too isolated and too old to recover.
His mistake was made by Mourinho.
The Portuguese has not executed such a flawless tactical plan since.
He came close in October 2017 with United, pinching a 0-0 draw away from home against the quickest counter-attacking side in the country.
The opponents were, of course, Liverpool.
Indeed, the Reds have arguably become the barometer to assess Mourinho's fortunes.
The last time he faced Klopp's men was back in December 2018. He lost 3-1 at Anfield and was sacked.
The Special One's mojo had finally deserted him on Merseyside.
Liverpool's visit to Tottenham on Sunday morning (Singapore time) will offer a fascinating opportunity to re-examine that barometer.
He is with a different club, but the problems remain the same.
There are distinct echoes of 2014. Mourinho has serious injuries and a lack of self-confidence.
Harry Kane and Moussa Sissoko are out, along with Hugo Lloris and defenders Ben Davies and Danny Rose, which leaves Spurs with an emaciated back four.
Spurs have managed only one clean sheet in 12 games since Mourinho took over.
In last week's defeat at Southampton, Ryan Sessegnon, Toby Alderweireld, Toby Alderweireld and Serge Aurier looked more like shy Tinder dates than a defence.
Spoiling tactics may not suffice against the EPL's fastest side this time, but Davinson Sanchez might help.
The 23-year-old is Mourinho's quickest defender.
He is not quite a rabbit out of the hat, but he is a hare among Tottenham's tortoises.