Neil Humphreys: Tottenham Hotspur guilty of Mourinho madness
Tottenham's panicky decision to appoint the Portuguese will only end badly
Tottenham Hotspur have paid no attention to Gary Neville's toilet story.
The former Manchester United defender retired on a toilet. After a wretched appearance against West Bromwich Albion in 2011, Neville locked himself away in the toilet and accepted that his legs had gone. He had nothing left except his humility. So he retired.
For Jose Mourinho, humility is kryptonite. He specialises in hubris. And hubris doesn't recognise decline. It doesn't see the end of a cycle.
Mourinho came to the end of his natural coaching cycle at United, which isn't a criticism, but a reflection of the game's fluctuating tactical models.
A decade at the pinnacle already marks an astonishing managerial achievement, but there's little evidence in the game's history - and Mourinho's recent history - to suggest Spurs' new manager is primed to buck an established trend.
Put simply, Tottenham have fired the 1960s' Cassius Clay and replaced him with the 1980s' Muhammad Ali, except that Clay won titles. Mauricio Pochettino didn't. And Ali adapted his tactics as his opponents changed. Mourinho didn't.
Nevertheless, Spurs have replaced a resourceful younger man with a fading icon, confusing a brand name and past glories with contemporary relevance.
On British radio, pundits are insisting that Mourinho is still big box office, but they sound like those boxing promoters who once insisted that an over-the-hill Ali was still good for one more fight.
Amnesiacs, also known as jaundiced Tottenham supporters, are now busily turning Mourinho into Charlie Sheen. He's a winner again. He's all about the winning. Unlike Pochettino, he's a born winner.
It's obviously true that Pochettino never lifted anything silver in his five years in north London, whereas Mourinho has collected 25 trophies, if you include the Community Shield, as he always does.
But the 56-year-old arguably scaled his career peak at Inter Milan back in 2010, when he overcame every logical odd to take his unfancied side to the Treble.
It was the last time that Mourinho overachieved with underdogs, which was actually the hallmark of his greatest successes at Inter and Chelsea. It was almost a decade ago and he's never been quite as popular with his footballers again.
Like a masochistic chef, he broke too many eggs to produce the occasional omelette. He briefly halted Barcelona's La Liga domination, but smashed the Real camp in the process. He produced one more unlikely title triumph on his Chelsea return, but it cost him another shattered dressing room.
By the time Mourinho pitched up at a fragile Old Trafford, the siege mentality had become his default setting. What's worse, it no longer worked.
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy insisted yesterday that Mourinho will "bring energy and belief to the dressing room".
Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford might challenge Levy's optimism. None of them improved under Mourinho's tutelage. United regressed. There was no discernible structure. The Red Devils were prosaic and dull.
Watching Mourinho's line-ups became an act of self-harm. Pochettino's Tottenham ended trophy-less, but were rarely accused of being tedious.
Levy also hailed Mourinho's tactical prowess and the Portuguese strategist undoubtedly relishes building Trumpian walls against the EPL's most swashbuckling sides, almost as a point of dogmatic principle.
But tactics evolve. Coaches change. The game has moved on.
Even Wolverhampton Wanderers and Burnley show greater trust in their attacking players and encourage a fluid approach more in keeping with the game's gradual, invigorating shift towards counter-attacking football.
But Mourinho won't bend. His reactive style, which has proven so successful in one-off games against superior opponents, seems too deeply engrained.
Between the Chelsea sacking and the United malaise, Mourinho appeared to lose heart, as if the game had turned into something faster, livelier and more unpredictable and it was all a bit grubby for his clinical mind.
SIGN NEW CONTRACTS
And now he's expected to convince his best defenders, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, to sign new contracts when he's previously insisted that disgruntled players should be moved on to preserve the squad's morale (he sold Arjen Robben at Chelsea for the same reason).
He's also got to persuade his only creative maverick, Christian Eriksen, to sign on for his conservative crusade when Mourinho has had a career-long aversion to creative mavericks.
He has enjoyed the luxury of an elite club's inflated budget for almost a decade, but must now operate within the confines of Levy's smaller piggy bank.
Spurs still have a stadium to pay off. One suspects they'll be paying off another manager long before his contract concludes in 2023.
Mourinho's appointment feels like a desperate study in wrongness. Wrong manager. Wrong philosophy. Wrong club. Wrong decade.
If this peculiar story gets a happy ending for a redeemed character, it'll be Pochettino.
What they say about Jose Mourinho replacing Mauricio Pochettino
"Mauricio Pochettino helped the club to punch massively above their weight. Good luck with finding a better replacement... ain't gonna happen."
- Former Spurs striker Gary Lineker
"Pochettino should have been given until the end of the season to try and get Tottenham back... Spurs should be a top-six club, but he's made them a top-four club... just shows his quality."
- Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher
"People talk about the players there all loving him. If they love him that much, maybe they should have started playing a bit better. At the end of the day, they've got him the sack."
- Former Spurs manager Harry Redknapp
"If you're a Tottenham fan who loves being brought up with the style Spurs have played, you won't enjoy Jose Mourinho's football."
- Former Spurs midfielder Chris Waddle
"I'm flabbergasted by Tottenham's decision. Some clubs would build a statue for a manager who took them to the biggest game in club football. I fear it is a decision they will regret."
- Former Spurs striker Peter Crouch
"Amazing how some have bought into 'Mourinho the winner' without any regard for how he leaves clubs. Unbalanced, fractured, overspending, soulless. Everything Spurs tried to avoid. Good luck, I like Spurs a lot, but it's not how this man comes in, it's how he'll leave you."
- Former Liverpool striker Stan Collymore
"Tottenham is only about four square miles large, we will struggle to contain Mourinho's ego which is bigger than even our new stadium."
- Tottenham MP David Lammy
"Mourinho is an unbelievable manager. If I were a Tottenham player, I would be delighted knowing he was coming in. I don't think it'll take him long to win the dressing room over. If I were a player, I'd look at what he's won, the emotions that he incites in players... he's a manager I'd play for."
- Former Spurs midfielder Paul Gascoigne
"Mourinho is a perfect fit for them. Spurs are genuinely a big club and they need someone who can turn what is perceived to be attacking, attractive football into a slightly more pragmatic approach that will put some silverware in the boardroom."
- Former Liverpool star Graeme Souness
"Mourinho is a left-field appointment for (chairman) Daniel Levy, but if you want a winner - and Spurs have not won a trophy for a long time - Mourinho is your man."
- Former Spurs midfielder Jamie Redknapp