Jose Mourinho’s return to football management got off to a dream start as his first game in charge of Tottenham saw them win 3-2 at West Ham.
Mourinho’s 11-month absence from the game ended this week when he replaced Mauricio Pochettino on Wednesday and he needed only three days to lift Spurs’ misfiring stars.
First-half goals from Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura – both incisive attacks – were added to by Harry Kane’s header after the break as Tottenham won away in the Premier League for the first time in 308 days, even though late goals from Michail Antonio and Angelo Ogbonna skewed the scoreline.
It extended the 56-year-old’s incredible record of not losing a first game in charge of a club since his first job as Benfica’s manager way back in 2000.
Mourinho had stuck to his pledge of not changing too much from how Pochettino had set them up, but they played with confidence and intent, something that was missing in the latter part of the Argentinian’s spell in north London.
There will be far bigger challenges ahead than this for Mourinho, but the way the front four linked up will give great promise that Spurs can climb up the table and challenge for a top-four spot.
Dele Alli, someone who Mourinho had told to start playing like himself, was back to his best, Son was electrifying, Moura played with purpose and Kane led the line superbly.
West Ham had been a mere footnote in the build-up to the game as the focus had unsurprisingly all been on the Portuguese’s return, but Manuel Pellegrini’s position at the London Stadium will come into focus after a dismal display, despite the late goals.
This was their sixth defeat in eight games in all competitions, with no wins since September, and with the home fans jeering their side and manager, Pellegrini must fear for his job.
The Hammers were not helped by their social media team posting a video – that was eventually deleted – goading Mourinho about previous poor results against the London club.
There was never any danger of this being another Red Letter Day as Spurs, with Mourinho prowling the touchline, controlled the game from the first whistle.
Kane thought he had given them a perfect start inside the opening 10 minutes but he was offside after being played in by Alli.
After Son and Moura had gone close Spurs took a deserved lead in the 36th minute after a spell of pressure.
Alli played in Son down the left and the South Korean continued his penchant for scoring big goals by firing through the hands of Roberto, though the West Ham goalkeeper should have done better.
Spurs had Mourinho producing a knee-slide nine minutes later as they doubled their lead with an impressive goal.
Alli did well to keep the ball in, setting Son free at the same time, and the latter’s cross was rammed home at close range by Moura.
It was a big afternoon for Moura, who was named in the starting line-up after Mourinho had revealed he tried to sign him when he was in charge of Real Madrid, and he delivered an important goal.
Moura had already missed a great chance to add his second by the time Kane made it 3-0 in the 49th minute as the England captain notched his 21st goal of the season for club and country.
He was picked out superbly by Serge Aurier’s cross and planted a header in the back of the net to leave Mourinho chuckling on the sidelines.
For a period of time it looked like it could have been as big a win as Spurs wanted, but West Ham at least restored some pride in the 73rd minute.
Antonio – a half-time substitute – got on the scoresheet with a rifled effort into the bottom corner from Mark Noble’s pass.
The hosts, who had been dreadful for so much of the game, looked like setting up a grandstand finish when Declan Rice swept home Sebastian Haller’s header, but VAR ruled that he was offside.
Ogbonna did get one back for West Ham with the very last action, scoring from a corner, to skew the scoreline, but this was Spurs’ day.
This was Mourinho’s day.