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Jose Mourinho Takes Over at Spurs: A Clean Break

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Following the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino, this Tottenham fan reckons with a wide range of emotions and ponders a big choice.

Jose Mourinho - Tottenham Hotspur Unveil New Manager - Premier League
Several Spurs fans will be overjoyed to welcome Jose Mourinho. Others, not so much.
Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

The sacking of Mauricio Pochettino was a bit of a surprise, but hardly a shock. However, Daniel Levy’s decision to bring in Jose Mourinho as his replacement is an enormous jolt. When you think of Spurs, you don’t see them opening up the checkbook for a manager of his caliber, not only in terms of paying Mourinho, but more importantly, presumably also giving him transfer funds and wage bill for the superstar wish list he is accustomed to. (Of course, that raises the question: Why wasn’t Poch simply afforded that luxury in previous seasons?)

Normally, I would be overjoyed to see my favorite team go in a new direction with a proven winner and an implied commitment to spending for quality. However, please allow myself to quote... myself (yes, that’s an Austin Powers reference) from my “Whiplash: Manchester United Sacks Jose Mourinho” article of December 2018:

“I don’t root against many managers. Mourinho, though, is an exception, with his misery, negativity, spitefulness, smugness, meanness, ridiculous excuses (that simply defy reality), outdated tactics, petty mind games in the press, unhappy players, and refusal to adopt a more positive approach both on and off the pitch. I’m overjoyed to see him go. Good riddance, and don’t let the door hit you in the heiney on the way out.”

With that said, what do I do now? Can I actually stomach rooting for Jose Mourinho? Or do I turn my back on Spurs?

One thing that we all learn is the eventual revelation that you can actually choose your friends and your significant other. If you are surrounded with self-absorbed, mean-spirited pals, if you are in a relationship with someone toxic and miserable, you can actually break things off from them. It’s not always easy in the moment, but after the fact it is tends to be overwhelmingly clear that you are better off.

There are several sports teams that I grew up rooting for, based on geography. For better or worse, I’m stuck with them. Sometimes being a fan of those teams ends up being rewarding and fun, but usually it’s painful. And that’s okay; that’s just how it is.

But I didn’t grow up in London. I’m not even from England or the UK. I have no real ties to Europe. I became an EPL fan as an adult in Los Angeles, and only picked Spurs as my team when my favorite American player ever, Clint Dempsey, went to Tottenham following a successful spell at Fulham. Since then, watching Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min, Christian Eriksen, et al. flourish under Poch has been loads of joy... mixed with plenty of pain, of course.

FC Basel 1893 v Tottenham Hotspur FC - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final: Second Leg
Clint Dempsey starred for Tottenham, bringing American eyes to the EPL.
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Now, though, with the hiring of Miserable Mou, I just can’t do it. I’m a free agent. I need to make a clean break. I can pick a new favorite team. Which should it be?

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LIVERPOOL

Liverpool has been absolutely dynamic under Jurgen Klopp. The Red have shelled out big bucks for defensive stars such as Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk, but the offensive success has come from ingeniously paying less than top dollar for Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino. After winning the Champions League last season, they are heavy favorites to capture the EPL crown this term. Is it a bit too late to get on board the Liverpool train, or could the timing be forgiven?

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MANCHESTER CITY

The Citizens are a pure joy to watch, particularly on offense led by the dazzling likes of Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez, Ilkay Gundogan, and Gabriel Jesus. Pep Guardiola is an undisputed mastermind. The team spends a lot of money, and spends it wisely. The Sky Blues also win EPL titles. Unfortunately, in that vein, it would be too much jumping on the bandwagon. It would be like starting to root for the New England Patriots. I Just can’t do it.

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MANCHESTER UNITED

The Red Devils sacked Mou, which was a fine start. But they clearly still have loads of issues under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and the problems may have more to do with Ed Woodward. More than that, there are already enough Man United fans in the world, including NMA’s Stall and Darryl. I’ll take a pass.

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CHELSEA

New manager and team legend Frank Lampard has led an inspired, youthful charge this season, as Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount, and Fikoyo Tomori have been among the stars. Another is Christian Pulisic, currently the brightest light on the United States national team. I can’t help but think back to picking Tottenham due to Clint Dempsey. Should I follow suit with Pulisic and Chelsea? Intriguing, very intriguing.

Christian Pulisic - Chelsea FC - Premier League
After a slow start, Christian Pulsic has stepped into a starring role for Chelsea.
Photo by Visionhaus

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ARSENAL

Spurs fans are predisposed to hate Arsenal. As an American outsider, though, that never was the case for me. While I wearied of the constant drama, I actually very much enjoyed watching the Gunners’ attractive style of play under Arsene Wenger. However, Unai Emery has seemingly lost the magic, despite the big ticket signing of Nicolas Pepe in attack and the addition of on-loan playmaker Dani Ceballos. Maybe Emery can get it back; it’s certainly possible, but for now it’s tough to get especially excited about Arsenal.

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ANYBODY ELSE?

Is going with another “Big Six” team too easy? Could I find joy in an also ran striving to be the best of the rest? Brendan Rodgers has led the Leicester resurgence as the team tries to copy its magical, Cinderella story title run of 2015-16. Sheffield United has gotten off to a great start this season after returning to the EPL, playing with strong spirit, while boasting a rich history in English football. Wolves finished in 7th place on their promotion last season, are currently 8th, and the Molineux is a revered stadium. The three B’s — AFC Bournemouth, Burnley and Brighton — are plucky underdogs in their own right, and could be fun to cheer. Southampton gives us previews of Liverpool’s future stars (not to mention the EPL’s up and coming managers) striving to survive annual relegation drama. So many options...

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Recruit me to your favorite team, or otherwise tell me whom I should root for. Would you jump ship if your favorite team hired a manager you loathed, or would you stay true? Take the poll below, then share your thoughts in the comments!

Poll

Which team should I root for?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Arsenal
    (1 vote)
  • 14%
    Chelsea
    (7 votes)
  • 22%
    Leicester City
    (11 votes)
  • 10%
    Liverpool
    (5 votes)
  • 2%
    Manchester City
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Manchester United
    (0 votes)
  • 2%
    Sheffield United
    (1 vote)
  • 37%
    stick with Tottenham Hotspur
    (18 votes)
  • 2%
    Wolves
    (1 vote)
  • 6%
    Other (name in comments)
    (3 votes)
48 votes total Vote Now

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