During this off-season, I thought it would be good for me to go out there and talk to a fan of every Premier League club. I wanted to get their insight on how things went last season, what they are looking forward to in the transfer market and how they thought next season was going to go for them. This whole series, you will be able to find here.
For this interview , I “sat down” with Chris Baker. “I’m Chris Baker. I’ve been obsessed with Tottenham Hotspur and football in general since 1994. I’ve been fortunate enough to follow Spurs at home, away and abroad. I’ve been a season ticket holder at Tottenham Hotspur FC since 2014, I was on the waiting list for 14 years before getting one. I’m also a qualified Sports Journalist. I graduated with a 2:1 degree in Sports Journalism from Staffordshire University. My twitter handle is @CDBaker86.
So, with that said, let’s get on with the interview:
What do you think went wrong? What led to Spurs doing so poorly at the start of the season after the highs of the Champions League?
I think I’ve answered this question in my previous two answers really. Essentially the squad needed a major overhaul and it didn’t get it. We were very short in the full back areas, which were such a strength of ours when we had Danny Rose & Kyle Walker at their best. The defensive midfield situation was also a big problem – at one point we had Mousa Dembele, Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier all fit and on form. At the start of the 2019/2020 season none of these players were either at the club or able to perform as they had done previously. This in turn lead to the back four being more exposed which did not help the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.
Also, strangely enough letting Fernando Llorente leave without signing a replacement (bit of a theme here) was an issue. It left us very short of options up front and meant that we didn’t have a Plan B or anyone that could play with or instead of Harry Kane.
I think all in all it was a squad that was just a bit jaded and burnt out. They had come so close but yet so far in the major competitions and things just needed refreshing. 5 years is a very long time in modern elite football.
Then came the arrival of Jose Mourinho, a man who has had so much success at clubs in the past, how did you feel when he was appointed, was it the right choice?
There had been a lot of speculation about Mourinho being teed up for the job which made me feel quite uncomfortable that Levy had (again) been conducting the search for a new manager when the current one was still in post which didn’t sit well with me. He certainly has previous in this regard – see Juande Ramos coming in for Martin Jol in 2007. Having said that, Daniel Levy would have been roundly (and rightly) slaughtered if he had sacked Pochettino without a replacement sorted out.
It all happened very quickly – suggesting that terms had been agreed well in advance. Poch was sacked in the evening and Jose Mourinho was announced as our new Head Coach by 7am the next day. I’m still getting used to the fact that he is our Head Coach in many ways, it’s weird seeing him in the Spurs gear – especially given his history with Chelsea.
I could see the logic behind the appointment. Jose has a CV that is almost unmatched. He was out of work and living in London which will have appealed to Levy, especially given the payoff that was due to Pochettino and his coaching staff. Mourinho could come in and hit the ground running, knowing the league and the THFC squad well from his days of being our opponent and in his position as a media pundit. There was certainly an initial new manager bounce, with some improved performances and results. A different voice in the dressing room is sometimes all that is needed.
The jury largely remains out on Jose but I am very much in favour of giving him a chance. We all know about his history, but he is our manager and I will back him to the hilt as long as he in charge of Spurs. The difference between Mourinho and Pochettino at the moment is goodwill. Poch had built up a lot of credit with Tottenham fans, I feel that people will turn on Jose a lot quicker if results aren’t forthcoming.
How do you feel about the tactics that he has employed since taking charge? Will he take Spurs to the next level?
Jose, as ever, has been a pragmatist – what I was surprised about was the fact that we were still so poor defensively after he took over. All of his teams have been built on a solid defence. That said, we have looked a much more cohesive unit since the Premier League restarted in June. I think our tactical set-up against Leicester, Man Utd and Arsenal was pretty good. Perhaps it wasn’t the easiest on the eye and not necessarily the “Tottenham way” but we got good results at the end of the day. My concern is more around what we can do against teams that sit back and defend deep against us, we have struggled in those types of games. Mourinho looks like he has a good plan against teams that dominate possession. We defend as a tight, compact unit, with two banks of four and then look to hit teams on the break with the pace on the counter of Son, Moura/Bergwijn with the ruthless finishing of Kane.
It was interesting to hear Eric Dier and Ben Davies say that we are more tactically adaptable under Mourinho. Meaning that we adjust depending on who we are playing rather than under Pochettino who looked to assert our playing style on the opponent, regardless of who they were.
I really hope Jose can do what Jose always does – deliver silverware. As a fan base we are desperate for it. I sadly can’t remember the 1991 FA Cup Final win but have been fortunate enough to be at Wembley for the two League Cup triumphs we have had since then in 1999 & 2008. It almost goes without saying that we haven’t won enough in recent years (not that it is easy – probably never been harder to win trophies both domestically and in Europe). Winning a trophy would be fantastic in so many ways, if only just to shut the constant “wOt HaS He wOn/EmPtY tRoPhY cAbInEt” brigade up on social media.
So, that concludes the second part of the interview, thank you very much for reading and stay tuned for part two. There, we go into Tottenham’s Europa League finish, Spurs’ player of the season and their transfer window dealings. If you enjoyed reading it, you can find all other fan interviews conducted this post-season here, to check out what Chris is up to, you can visit his Twitter page here.
To see the rest of my interviews with Premier League fans, you can visit the page here.