WHEN I was growing up, Tottenham were many people’s second team — with Glenn Hoddle, Ossie Ardiles and Steve Archibald helping them to play in swashbuckling style.
Until very recently there was still much to admire, even if other fans may not want them to succeed as they once did.
This was a club with a dynamic, forward-thinking manager, a team brimming with young English talent, a brilliant recruitment and youth development system, eye-watering record profits and an incredible new £1billion stadium.
The sole goal — to finish in front of their North London rivals Arsenal — was finally gone, with a new ambition to join the elite teams of Europe.
Yet no sooner were the shiny doors of their aspirational stadium flung open, a plague arrived on their house.
Mauricio Pochettino, the manager we all wished we had at our club, was gone amid rumours of a lost dressing room, stars whose contracts were expiring wanting to leave and the chairman Daniel Levy being difficult.
The answer? Levy called Jose Mourinho, the self-styled Special One, to resolve the deepening challenge of having a champagne stadium with a beer team.
Today they find themselves at a crossroads. Mourinho has divided opinion since his first arrival at Chelsea in 2004. He made bold predictions and had the temerity to back them up.
His first away game for Chelsea was against my newly-promoted Crystal Palace — and striker Didier Drogba snuffed out our limited challenge.
Passing the manager’s office after the match, I stopped to chat to Mourinho and the way he spoke left me thinking he really was the Special One.
Sixteen years on and his CV now also boasts Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea again and Manchester United.
But now he’s not at a blue-chip club funded by a Gulf state or an oligarch.
Despite their lust for glamour, Tottenham remain a thrifty club run by a notoriously difficult operator.
While this may be a slightly odd comparison, when I appointed Neil Warnock as Palace manager in 2007 it was dubbed a “marriage made in hell”.
It didn’t turn out that way but the Mourinho-Levy dynamic has the potential to be just that.
Mourinho initially did his best to inhabit a new persona of the “Humble One” after bouncing through the door like a kid on Christmas morning.
But he has now landed squarely in his accustomed role, with an endless dark outlook.
Recently his Tottenham team played with the handbrake on against Chelsea and have been outplayed by both Wolves and by RB Leipzig in their Champions League home leg three weeks ago.
He also dropped key players in games to favour the FA Cup and promptly got knocked out by Norwich.
Mourinho is now dividing and he’s not conquering. His “gift” of a squad now needs a major overhaul.
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Both club and manager look stuck in acts of self-harm — Spurs in their desire to have a team to match their glorious stadium and Mourinho because he wants to be in London and the Premier League.
This may all be supposition, of course. The return of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min could soon light up the North London sky again.
Or it may be that Spurs have lit a fire under their own backsides and lost sight of their culture and identity by entrusting their required regeneration to a manager who may have had his time.
- Simon Jordan’s Final Word is on talkSPORT on Sunday from 5-8pm.
This post written by Dave Fraser originally appeared on Football news - transfers, fixtures, scores, pictures | The Sun. Read the full post here.