Just over two months ago, Tottenham were considered Premier League title contenders and, with the club’s previous success in years ending in the number one, the omens were looking good.
But ever since they tested their title credentials in a top of the table clash with Liverpool in December, they’ve failed miserably.
It has been a rude awakening for Jose Mourinho, who is currently on his worst run as a manager ever, with the pressure continuing to mount following Spurs’ 2-1 defeat by West Ham on Sunday.
Jose Mourinho insists his coaching methods are ‘second to nobody’ despite the crisis at Spurs
The result at the London Stadium leaves them ninth, nine points adrift of the Champions League places and they are now as close to a relegation fight than they are to Manchester United in second.
Following the defeat by the Hammers, Mourinho came out with a staunch defence of his coaching methods, claiming they are ‘second to nobody in the world’ despite the table reading that they’re only ninth best in the league as it stands.
And, as well as the table, the stats simply do not lie.
Sunday’s defeat was Spurs’ fifth in six games which means the Portuguese is now on the worst run of his entire career – he has never taken so few points (3) from six games.
A 2-1 defeat by West Ham on Sunday continues to add more pressure on Mourinho’s shoulders
If we take a step back and look at the bigger picture, it’s not just a rough patch of form, either.
Mourinho has only managed to win 81 points from his first 50 leagues games at Spurs – another new low for the Special One.
Quite damningly, he also boasts the worst win percentage (46 per cent) of any Spurs manager in the Premier League since Juande Ramos took charge in 2007.
But with Spurs in free fall and the ideas drying up, what can the Special One do to stop the rot? Sportsmail takes a look at his options.
What exactly are Jose’s coaching methods?
Over the years, Mourinho’s philosophy has rarely changed and it’s brought him a haul of trophies with it. So with that being said, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right?
While it has brought him unrivalled success, Mourinho’s philosophy often unravels over time with his coaching only working to an extent if the past teaches us anything.
On the pitch, Mourinho has instructed his players, past and present, to avoid making mistakes at all costs while he is more than willing to give up possession and stick to counter-attacking football to limit this.
Mourinho has also always derided football’s ‘philosophers’, saying dominating possession of the ball can only take you so far.
Mourinho’s methods have come into question despite their success at his previous clubs
Many view this as negative but when counter-attacking football works, it works. Just looking back at Harry Kane and Son Heung-min’s partnership from earlier in the season is evidence of this.
With that, Mourinho’s coaching methods can come down to what is known as ‘differential learning’ and ‘guided discovery’, which would see a coach present a problem to a player and then leaving it to them to figure it out, while also offering solutions if the answer is not abundantly clear.
On the other side of the coin, there is ‘prescriptive coaching’ which is where the coach will lay out how a task should be done and is then repeated until it can be completed like clockwork. Louis van Gaal was a big advocate of this style.
The polar opposite of this would be ‘constraint-led training’, which would see the coaches set the parameters but would offer no solutions, allowing the players to figure it out and adapt for themselves.
His defensive mindset and reliance on Harry Kane and Son Heung-min has been figured out
For Mourinho, he has always used elements from both of these methods and puts them into action which has bred positive results at the majority of clubs he has managed.
However, it could also be one of the main issues to with Spurs’ recent failures at the minute.
While Spurs showed a ruthless mentality in front of goal earlier in the season, many argued that Mourinho didn’t have a Plan B if the counter-attacking philosophy stopped working or was nullified.
Mourinho has long been criticised for his lack of revolutionary ideas, which stems back to his days at Real Madrid, where he often relied on Cristiano Ronaldo to come up with solutions in attack and single-handedly win games for Los Blancos.
Eden Hazard is known to have described Mourinho’s coaching as ‘basic’ but insisted it worked for him given his ability to turn games on its head by himself. He has also relied on the likes of Didier Drogba, Romelu Lukaku and Samuel Eto’o in the past to help him get out of tight spots when needed.
Mourinho is also not afraid to hang players like Dele Alli out to dry in order to get a response
According to the Independent, his ideas don’t seemed to have changed at all with regards to how Spurs set up.
The report claims that the attacking idea at Spurs is to get the ball to Kane and Son and letting them figure it out, while there is more of an emphasis on defensive organisation and set-pieces rather than how others could contribute to the attack.
And it worked for the first half of the campaign. While their brilliant spell did see them top the table, Spurs and Mourinho have since been figured out and the results are there for all to see.
His decision to give his players a dressing down in public also has mixed results when it comes to motivating them to succeed. Dele Alli has been offered an olive branch after nearly being exiled to PSG while Gareth Bale is only now showing glimpses of his former self.
However, alienating these players further could end up with more fans screaming for him to make a hasty, and costly, exit.
What can Jose do to dig himself out of this Spurs-sized hole?
There are calls for Mourinho to adapt and change his approach to avoid his usual third-season meltdown from happening a year early.
Tactically speaking, though, things need to change – and quick.
Easing off over-relying on Kane and Son could be the key to getting Spurs ticking again with the pair the only real attacking threats in the starting XI at present.
While the defeat at West Ham was deflating, Mourinho will be happy with Bale’s second-half performance after the Welshman showed glimpses of his former self while almost helping Spurs pull off a last-minute comeback.
A run of games for Bale is now a must and Mourinho needs to capitalise on this good run of form if Tottenham are to get back to winning ways.
Gareth Bale (left) showed glimpses of his former self when he came on against the Hammers
Bale (right) and Alli (left) must now be given the opportunity to shine in the next run of games
The integration of Alli can add that creative spark Tottenham crave in attack but the England international must be given time to get back to his best so he can help ease the playmaking burden currently on Kane’s shoulders.
In defence, there really is no immediate remedy for individual mistakes that have plagued Tottenham in recent months.
The pressure to not make them may have had an overbearing effect on Eric Dier, Davinson Sanchez and Toby Alderweireld but that is a mentality issue Mourinho will need to continue to work on.
Something Mourinho needs to stop is his decision to switch up his centre-back pairing every week.
The chop-change nature of his defence offers no stability at the back and is now filtering through to the rest of the side. While he may not fully trust the men he has at his disposal, sticking with a consistent system could do wonders for his defenders’ confidence, which is already at rock-bottom.
When it comes to winning silverware at Spurs, he will need a few things to go in his favour. Mourinho is pinning his hopes on winning the Carabao Cup and the Europa League, which comes after they were dumped out of the FA Cup in emphatic fashion by Everton earlier this month while a top-four finish also looks highly unlikely.
Mourinho will be in his element when he faces off against arch-rival Pep Guardiola in the Carabao Cup final on April 25 and will be hoping for a lot of luck to go his way in the build up.
City, who are currently on an 18-game winning streak in all competitions, look unstoppable at the minute and would have easily swept this Spurs side aside if they met at Wembley on the final’s initial date.
But with the final being pushed back until the end of April, Mourinho will be hoping to use the congested fixture schedule to his advantage.
City are flying in the Champions League, and should everything go to plan, Guardiola’s men could realistically reach the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the competition, which are due to take place either side of the Carabao Cup final.
City’s main target above all is to finally win a European trophy so Guardiola may be forgiven for putting all of his eggs into his Champions League-shaped basket to ensure that they seal a spot in this year’s final.
Mourinho is pinning all his hopes on beating Pep Guardiola (right) in the Carabao Cup final
The first legs of the Champions League semis are due to take place three days after the Carabao Cup final, leaving Mourinho the chance to fully prepare for it in the hope they can pull off an unlikely cup win over arguably football’s most in-form side.
Tottenham also remain one of the favourites for the Europa League and Mourinho has already hinted that he is prioritising the competition in order to secure Champions League football next season that way.
Should he be given time and backing to do so by chairman Daniel Levy, then a trophy or two will buy Mourinho a whole lot of time to get his project at Spurs back on track.
However, repeating his mistakes and expecting different results could see ultimately end with more heartbreak for Spurs and Mourinho without a job. Now the Special One needs to prove his really is second to none.