Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho has been one of the most divisive figures in football ever since his acrimonious departure from Chelsea.
The Portuguese boss was once a behemoth of management, a figure who was feared and respected in equal measure.
But the Special One’s metamorphosis into the Grumpy One hinted that he had lost the charisma and spark that made him such a richly successful manager.
In January at the beginning of this year, Guardian columnist Jonathan Liew unleashed a scathing attack on Mourinho’s negative tactical approach and suggested Mauricio Pochettino’s progress had already started to unravel just eight weeks into the new regime.
That thesis was indicative of the prevailing mood across the British media and reflective of how large sections of the Spurs fanbase viewed the serial trophy winner.
Just two months later he was labelled as a has-been manager by Tony Cascarino in a vehement talkSPORT tirade.
“Tottenham fans aren’t deluded; they know their team is playing really poorly and Mourinho is trying to pull the wool over everybody’s eyes about where they are.
“This team has gone backwards, I feel,” said Cascarino.
The former Republic of Ireland player went on to say: “I don’t see Jose as a challenging manager anymore.
“I was always very careful with the words I chose and what I said about Jose, because he could make you eat humble pie, but I don’t feel that any more.
“I don’t feel that Jose is going to surprise me. I think there are younger managers coming into the game and Mourinho has been left behind.”
But as 2020 draws towards its conclusion with Spurs sitting 2nd in the Premier League table, it will be interesting to see how Cascarino feels now.
It’s still early days in this tumultuous, wildly unpredictable season, but Mourinho appears to be building something close to a title challenge.
At the heart of it all is Harry Kane, a player who continues to defy logic and expectation for both club and country.
Though the England international was far from sluggish last season, scoring 24 and providing two assists in 34 appearances across all-competitions during another injury-hit season, he has been a totally different prospect in the current campaign.
Mourinho undoubtedly deserves credit for the rebirth of Kane, who has mastered the enigmatic nine-and-a-half position with the help of a goal-hungry Son Heung-min.
Kane has always had more in his locker beyond the goals that have underpinned his success, but this season has been astonishing even by his eclectic standards.
Pace has never formed a central part of his game but a multitude of injury problems have sapped a zip from his step and forced him to adapt and utilise his extensive range of passing.
His playmaking qualities began to emerge under Pochettino but Mourinho has taken those to another level this season.
In just eight Premier League games, Kane has already recorded his best ever return for assists in a single season, while his 2.3 key passes per game is also a career-best.
Completing 25 passes per game from the spearhead of Spurs’ attack, the 27-year-old connects the dots in a way that has allowed Mourinho’s philosophy to flourish, silencing plenty of the doubters who have been sniping at him since the day he stepped into the hot seat in north London.
Mourinho’s decision to tweak Kane’s position and encourage him to drop deeper into the attack has worked wonders and been a game changing factor in the club’s early season title charge.
There isn’t a playmaking centre-forward quite like Kane, but Mourinho is managing to get the best out of him nonetheless.
Not bad for a dinosaur.
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