Dark and sinister, he skulks in the night. A menacing proposition, he appears from nowhere in a flash of words, slogans and hype; promising to do what others have not managed. In Porto, the man is legend, having won the Portuguese giants their second European Cup. In Milan too he is revered, two league titles (albeit at a time when Juventus were on their knees) and another European Cup added to his collection. At Chelsea, twice he came and twice he conquered, three league titles and a hatful of domestic cups before things twice turned nasty. Things inevitably turn nasty. In Spain his job was clear, win the European Cup for Madrid, bring home the Decima, he failed and more than that he changed. His demeanour and cool was worn down by Pep Guardiola and his all-conquering Barcelona side. Jose turned the richest team in the world into an ugly, negative, defensive unit, that mirrored his new persona. And then lastly, until tomorrow lunchtime that is, came Manchester United, a gigantic club on the wane but still the Portuguese managed to pick up trophies amid a storm of criticisms.
It was perhaps too easy to be critical of José Mourinho's time at Manchester United, I certainly was on many occasions. The style of football was awful, the excuses came thicker and faster than the victories, and yet still Mourinho managed to win trophies. Of course, League Cups and Europa Leagues are not his usual diet but the squad he inherited was deficient in so many ways. After a good first season, the project began once again to turn sour. Poor signings were made, the team appeared to have no clear direction, to the neutral it was a fantastic slow-motion catastrophe. Yet, barring that initial bounce things have not improved at Old Trafford in his absence. United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might sit in seventh place but they are closer in points to the bottom three than the top four.
So what are Tottenham Hotspur getting for their £8 million-plus per season? First of all, it is fair to say that Mourinho is talking a good game. Mistakes were made he is happy to admit, even if he is less keen to elaborate on what those mistakes might have been. He also claims to be happy with the squad he is inheriting at Spurs, which is interesting for two reasons. Number one, it immediately puts the pressure on himself to succeed, removing from the table many of the excuses he was happy to bandy about at United. Secondly, and more importantly, why shouldn't he be happy with the squad? This is a group that contested a Champions League Final in June. Eight months ago this Spurs squad was being considered third favourite in a three-horse race for the title. Tottenham's demise this season is not down to the quality of the players, it is probably not the fault of the outgoing manager either. Things just got stale at Spurs, five years is a long time in football, just ask any of José's previous employers.
Any excuse to put up a picture of the legend that is Bobby.
Mourinho might not be everyone's cup of tea, he is arrogant, self-aggrandising, often disrespectful, a bully, an eye-gouger and many other things but he is not stupid. He knows that this might be his last hurrah in the Premier League. Fail at Spurs and it is extraordinarily unlikely that another big club will fancy taking a gamble on him in the future. He knows too that Spurs is a wonderful opportunity, a strong squad playing in a beautiful new stadium, one of the best strikers in the world at his disposal; minor tinkering might only be required to make Spurs genuine challengers at the top of the table. What Spurs have lacked over past seasons is the mindset to turn undoubted potential into success, they might just have found the perfect manager to push them over the line.