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Mourinho & this new Spurs era: Why culture change can convince stars to stay

COMMENT: Right. Enough faffing about. It's now time to WIN... Whether it's been sounded out, or simply inferred, this will be the message bouncing around the walls of Tottenham's dressing room today.

Jose Mourinho has arrived to win. No more five-year plans. No more courageous defeats. No more of the nearly enough is good enough stuff. We know Mourinho does it in threes. Daniel Levy, having pursued this appointment for almost a decade, will be under no illusions. He's hired Mourinho to win. Get in. Fix it. And get out.

Those bemoaning the appointment are actually correct in their opinion. For Spurs, this marks a cultural shift. A massive cultural shift. It's now about winning first. The details can come later. And the question now begs: are the club prepared to take that step?

For the players, the answer should be an easy one. Particularly those who showed next-to-no interest in going forward with Mourinho's predecessor. Indeed, if Mourinho can do what Mauricio Pochettino couldn't and actually convince messrs Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen to commit to this new era, the manager and chairman won't get a better endorsement of this new approach.

And the chairman will be under the gaze as much as the players. Buying potential. Buying yourself the breathing space as that potential develops. That'll be turned on it's head by Mourinho. There may still be room for the likes of Jack Clarke and Ryan Sessegnon, but on a three year mission, Mourinho knows - as does Levy - that he can't afford such a wait. Players will be signed to make an instant impact. You only have to consider today's chatter - no matter how misplaced - of Zlatan Ibrahimovic snubbing Serie A and joining his old Manchester United manager at Spurs stadium. It's unlikely to be the Swede who first arrives in January, but you get the gist. It'll be about the here-and-now. Players who can instantly deliver what the manager is asking of them.

But what about the academy? Mourinho, during his presentation, was eager to talk up what he'd seen at Spurs from the outside. But it also has to be said, the production line at Enfield has been drying up in recent years. For all the good press Pochettino enjoyed as one to back youth, that really hasn't happened over the past two seasons. There's been no new Harry Winks come through. Marcus Edwards is now playing in Portugal. Josh Onomah was offloaded to Fulham. The once youngsters that Pochettino was name-checking back in 2017 have not fulfilled their promise. The signings of Clarke and Sessegnon are proof of that.

But that's not to say Mourinho's words are hollow. When he says, "I look to our history and you see that the academy is always giving the talents that the first team need. Of course I look forward to [working] with that profile", it's worth believing. The success of Scott McTominay at United should be enough to offer any young lad on the books at Spurs genuine hope.

It wasn't England or Scotland's coaches who identified McTominay. United's academy staff were playing him as a fill-in striker - almost just to make up the numbers. Only one man saw in McTominay the potential of what he is doing today. Even Carrington graduates like Gary Neville were rubbishing Mourinho's backing. Yeah, he's no Frank Lampard, but the example of McTominay is evidence that Mourinho will give a young player, with the right character, a chance.

But this is a side issue. Today at Spurs, under this manager, it's about the here-and-now. It'll be evolution not revolution.

Mourinho knows. There'll be no clearouts. No banging of heads. He's walked into a dressing room full of good players - and more importantly, good characters. It was only that their relationship with Pochettino had run it's course. Unlike at United. There's no overhaul needed. Just some tweaking. Some motivating. One or two additions to balance the team and bring out the best of what he already has.

And significantly, Mourinho will be doing so with his family around him. For this column, it never sat right seeing him work as Manchester United manager out of a hotel. The circumstances surely contributed to his snappy, short-tempered persona in those final months of occupying a room at the Lowry Hotel. At home in London. With his family close. It will offer Mourinho just that little extra support that he so clearly lacked while living in Manchester.

Darren Fletcher, the former United captain, offered a very telling insight of Mourinho in the aftermath of his demise at Old Trafford: "I know for a fact that when he left United he did a little bit of reflecting and asked a few people to tell him what he was like, to give him the truth, to give it to him straight, and that, for me, is a sign of somebody who realised he went a little bit too far."

A happier, more refreshed Mourinho? Only time will tell. Although that's one thing he and Spurs won't have much of.

The boom bust nature of Mourinho tenures won't be changing for Tottenham. This is it. The chairman knows. The players will know. Mourinho hasn't arrived to faff about. There's simply no time for that.

For today's Tottenham, it's all about winning.

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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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