AFP – Tottenham turned to Jose Mourinho to try and maintain their status as a Champions League club, but a terrible start to the Premier League season leaves the Portuguese with a mountain to climb either domestically or in Europe.
Mourinho’s appointment was not a universally popular one with the Spurs’ support given his past as a two-time Chelsea manager.
He managed to make the right first impression by securing Tottenham’s first away win in the Premier League since January with a 3-2 victory at West Ham on Saturday that was far more comprehensive that the scoreline suggested.
A vital three points cut the gap between Mourinho’s men and the top four to nine points, but strong starts from Liverpool, Leicester, Manchester City and Chelsea mean one of them will have to falter significantly in the coming months to open the door to Spurs.
The fact that Mourinho’s deal signed last week reportedly contains a £2 million bonus for making the top four is an illustration of how tough a task it will be.
Could winning the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history actually be Spurs’ best way to secure the riches and prestige of Europe’s premier club competition for a fifth consecutive season?
Under Mauricio Pochettino, who was sacked after five-and-a-half years in charge last week, Tottenham improved each year in Europe and last season fell just one hurdle short after a dramatic run to Champions League final.
Despite their dreadful domestic form and a 7-2 thrashing at home to Bayern Munich last month, Pochettino left with his side well-placed to reach the last 16 once more.
Victory over Olympiakos in Mourinho’s home debut on Tuesday will secure their passage into the knockout stages.
“I think we can go and win that match at home and qualify in the Champions League,” said Mourinho, who has a proud record of always qualifying from the Champions League group stages in spells as Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Manchester United.
A rejuvenated Spurs could certainly cause problems for some of Europe’s more fancied sides come the new year as they showed in shocking City and Ajax on their way to last season’s final.