Belfast Telegraph

Mourinho hails winning return to ‘natural habitat’ as Tottenham edge West Ham

The Portuguese’s 11-month absence from the game ended this week when he replaced Mauricio Pochettino in north London.

Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham edged West Ham in his first match in charge (John Walton/PA)
Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham edged West Ham in his first match in charge (John Walton/PA)

By Jonathan Veal, PA

Jose Mourinho was delighted to have the music ringing in his ears after his first game back in his “natural habitat” ended in a 3-2 win for Tottenham at West Ham.

The Portuguese’s 11-month absence from the game ended this week when he replaced Mauricio Pochettino in north London and he needed only three days to lift Spurs’ misfiring stars.

Goals from Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and Harry Kane put Tottenham in total command at the London Stadium, before late replies from Michail Antonio and Angelo Ogbonna skewed the scoreline and masked what was a terrible performance from the Hammers.

It saw Spurs win their first away game in the Premier League in 308 days, going back to January, and extended Mourinho’s incredible record of remaining unbeaten in first games in charge going back to his first job at Benfica in 2000.

As a result, the music was pumping in the Spurs’ dressing room after some initial caution from the players about their new manager’s tastes.

“Yesterday in the dressing room I felt they were a bit (concerned) that they didn’t know if I liked the music,” Mourinho revealed.

“The music in the dressing room at the training ground was low so maybe they wondered if this guy likes or doesn’t like, allows or doesn’t allow.

“But the dressing room during the week is their home, they can do what they want.

“When you go away, the music after the game I like because a victory is something that you have to value. It’s hard to win matches.

“So I was happy. The music was loud. I don’t care what music it is. I just like the feeling that the boys are happy – and the boys are happy.”

It was a good end to a hectic and emotional week for Spurs as the players came back from international duty to find Pochettino had been sacked.

Mourinho believes that played a part in their drop in the final 20 minutes.

“If somebody didn’t watch the game and just knows the result, they will think it is very, very difficult for us to win,” he said.

“My players also paid the price for a very, very difficult week.

“A week where they arrived from national teams, some arrived from difficult matches, some of them travelling, changed the manager, a new guy arrived, new training sessions, new ideas, the emotional thing that surrounds that.

“I don’t think that it is ever easy for a footballer to work with the coaching staff and then the next day other people are there.

“(They are) difficult things to process, so I think physically the team had a break and probably were also a little bit scared of that mental barrier of the bad results away.

“So the last 25 minutes were not easy but I think we played very well for an hour, really, really well and I am very happy.”

It had been a long 11 months for Mourinho out of the game and he revealed his delight at being back.

“I belong out there (in the technical area) so today I was where I belong,” he said.

“That’s my natural habitat. Was I extra emotional? No. Was I nervous? No, but I just love it, especially when things go in your direction, of course the best thing in football is to win matches.”

West Ham were a footnote in a match that was all about Mourinho’s return.

However, the defeat has piled the pressure on Manuel Pellegrini’s side, who are now without a win in all competitions for over two months.

The two late goals – which put a false complexion on the game – might have avoided a real backlash, but he knows he is under pressure.

“We are playing under big pressure, we have not had the results we want, especially at home,” he said.
“It was a big game against Tottenham and we wanted to do better but we couldn’t.

“Both things are together, the managers and the players, both have the responsibility to play well and win games.

“We need to try and win the next games. These are not the results we expected, especially losing so many points at home.

“We need to improve our play, attacking and defending.”

PA

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