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Jose Mourinho was the “Smiley One”, joking that his comments about never coming to Tottenham was before he was sacked by Chelsea in his second spell at Stamford Bridge.

The manager signed a 3½-year deal with the London club on Wednesday following the shock sacking of Mauricio Pochettino the previous evening.

He was fired by Manchester United last December after the club’s worst start to a season in 28 years and falling out with senior players, notably Paul Pogba.

However, he claimed that he was “not going to make the same mistakes” that plagued his ill-fated final term with the Red Devils but, rather, he would “make new mistakes” and “be stronger” as a result.

At his first press conference as Spurs’ new boss, he appeared far from the “Surly One” that prowled the dugout at Old Trafford.


Insisting that he was taking on a “great job”, he claimed “the best gift are the players who are here” and hailed the team, Champions League finalists in June, as being perfectly placed to achieve big things over the coming seasons.

While The Guardian revealed that he will have to work with what he has as the club do not have funds for a spending spree when the transfer window opens in January, the Portuguese, 56, believes he has inherited a world-class squad.

“The potential of the club is huge, the potential of the players is great, I am so happy,” he said.

“That was one of the reasons I came because of the vision that (chairman Daniel) Levy put in front of me about the club and the quality of the players and the squad.

“I told the players I came here because of them. I tried to buy some for different clubs and some, I didn’t even try, because you know how difficult it was.


“I don’t need players, I just need time, I just need to get to know these ones better. I know them well but you never know them well enough until you meet them.

“They were in the hands of a good manager and coaching staff.

“Of course, we have principles of play and leadership style that is going to change, that is obvious, but I cannot come here and think it is about my fingerprint or myself. It is not about myself.”

He also said he had used his 11 months away from the game to “think and prepare” and he had mellowed despite his abrasiveness being a well-known character trait.

“You never lose your DNA – you are what you are – for the good things and the bad things,” he said.


“I was always humble.

“The problem was that you didn’t understand that. I was always humble but it was in my way.”

Pochettino lost his job after a poor start to the campaign that has left 14th-placed Spurs 11 points behind the top four and 20 behind Premier League leaders and European champions Liverpool (34), but Mourinho praised his predecessor for laying the groundwork in his 51/2 years at the helm.

On the 47-year-old Argentinian, who led Spurs to four consecutive top-four finishes, he said: “I have to congratulate him for the work he has done.

“This club will always be his home. This training ground will always be his training ground. The door will always be open for him. He will find a great club again and he will have a great future.”


Although the team are probably too far behind the Reds to catch up in the league, Mourinho also expressed his confidence that they will be in the mix next term.

He added: “We can’t win the Premier League this season. Next season, I’m not saying we will win it, but we can win it.”

His first match in charge will be on Saturday at West Ham, two places below them, and he will be without Erik Lamela and captain-goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Deutsche Presse-Agentur


Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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