Football: the “Special One” rediscovers his touch

Football: the “Special One” rediscovers his touch

In recent years, it’s been hard to recall exactly what we ever saw in José Mourinho, said Jonathan Wilson in The Guardian. The inspirational charmer who lit up English football in the 2000s had seemingly been replaced by a humourless “sourpuss” whose teams played unattractive, defensive football out of kilter with the modern game. First at Manchester United, and for much of his first season at Spurs (which he joined last November), his “special” qualities were hard to discern. In recent weeks, however, Spurs have stormed to the top of the Premier League – and Mourinho has started “visibly having fun”. 

One reason is the change of club: Mourinho can get away with playing “the rebel” in a way he never could at Man U. Another is this season’s “rat-a-tat” of fixtures. After the opening weeks’ goal glut, teams have reverted to a “more basic” style of football – abandoning tactics such as the high press and becoming more attritional. This suits Mourinho perfectly: wait-and-see football has long been his speciality. Tottenham’s rich vein of form was evident again on Sunday, when they took on Arsenal at their “magnificent” Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, said Henry Winter in The Times. It was “another tactical masterclass” from Mourinho: his side conceded possession for substantial periods but were rarely troubled in front of goal. And having repeatedly “lured Arsenal up-field”, they were incisive on the counter-attack: two superb firsthalf goals from their “dynamic duo of Son Heungmin and Harry Kane” secured them a comfortable victory. This pair are unusual in taking “obvious pleasure in their own rampant chemistry”, said Barney Ronay in The Guardian. On Sunday, they again played “like two men roped together on a mountain”, skilfully assisting each other’s goals. Their “high-speed incision”, in tandem with the team’s mounting defensive authority, is a frightening combination for the rest of the Premier League.

 

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