The sack of ex-manager Mauricio Pochettino came as a surprise in the middle of the international break, but Spurs owner Daniel Levy had the replacement lined up for some time. Jose Mourinho took the reins instantly after Pochettino’s taillights vanished into the horizon and started to prepare his new troops to a local grudge match against east London rivals West Ham. While there could be easier places to jump in as a new manager, West Ham’s disarray eased Mourinho in and his squad took a rather clear and deserved victory at Olympic Stadium.
Spur had not won a game on the road in the Premier League for ten months, dating back to Fulham in January. The team that went through to the Champions League final was only a shadow of its former self to start the season and were 14th in the league after 12 games which finally spelled doom for Pochettino. The team had somewhat underachieved for the whole calendar year, but UCL prowess made up for many shortcomings domestically. However, it did seem that the team had run out of gas with Pochettino and the manager did not seem content with how things were looking for his team.
Players like Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Christian Eriksen had been far from their best during the final months of Pochettino’s reign for reasons unknown. The appointment of Mourinho seemingly sparked life to the whole squad – no longer could they hide behind their managers back. While not many changes were made come the 1st gameday of Mourinho’s era, the Tottenham team looked completely different on the pitch. Notably, Alli played his best game of the season and Dier wasn’t far off. The hard working Son Hueng-min scored the first goal, but his performances had been solid all season as had the goal scoring efficiency of fellow forward Harry Kane, who banged in the third goal against the abysmal Hammers.
Spurs looked like a certain winners after dominating the first half and running away with 3-0 lead into the 50th minute of the game. West Ham were as bad as they’ve ever been, but Spurs’ old vices surfaced in the last 20 minutes of the game. The energy, heavy pressing and determination of the visitors started to swindle and the Hammers took advantage by clawing their way back with goals from Michael Antonio and Angelo Ogbonna, but it was too little too late.
Tottenham had lost most games after taking the lead in the league and that problem is definitely something Mourinho will have to address. However, a win is a win and Mourinho’s honeymoon with the Spurs got a flying start beating their bitter rivals on the road. No matter how bad the hosts were.