Jose Mourinho comes with a guarantee of drama in all its forms – and his introduction at Tottenham’s magnificent new home delivered most of the usual storylines.
Mourinho did not exactly slip unnoticed into his seat in the technical area before Tuesday’s game against Olympiakos, the hordes of photographers ensured he was in their flashbulbs, but his understated entrance was not in keeping with the rest of the evening.
This was a rollercoaster night that illustrated exactly why Mourinho is here and, on the flip side, why he is excited by the potential of a side that were in the final of this competition only six months ago.
First the facts – Spurs’ 4-2 win made it two from two for Mourinho after the 3-2 victory at West Ham and ensured a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.
This, however, barely scratches the surface of a game that showed all sides of Spurs, good and bad, but also sends Mourinho into familiar Champions League territory of the knockout phase, one he has navigated successfully before with Porto and Inter Milan.
Mourinho was not greeted with any fanfare, no formal announcement to the fans and no chanting of his name – although there was also no chanting for the departed and much-loved Mauricio Pochettino.
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One fan brandished a ‘Thank you, Mauricio’ banner and there was also an Argentina flag while another supporter held up a Spurs shirt emblazoned with ‘Special 1′ – but there was no real sense of occasion, no atmosphere that suggested a managerial superstar had arrived along the Seven Sisters Road.
Mourinho was quickly acquainted with the two faces of Spurs as they made a horrendous start, going two goals down and forcing him into emergency action.
It was only 29 minutes in when he removed Eric Dier and sent on Christian Eriksen, replacing a player many expect to become a key component under Mourinho with one many believe does not want a part in the new era.
Mourinho knew things had to change and the unfortunate Dier was the sacrifice.
It did not have an instant impact but once Spurs forced their way back into contention, the change helped them build momentum that eventually overwhelmed Olympiakos.
This seemed a night when Mourinho and Spurs’ supporters were getting to know each other. There may have been no ecstatic welcome at the door but by the time they parted at the final whistle they seemed to understand each other a lot better.
Mourinho stalked the touchline throughout, often accompanied by his animated new assistant Joao Sacramento, who may be only 30 but is certainly not shy of offering his boss plenty of advice, even confident enough to offer up a bit of tic-tac behind his back.
If Mourinho’s confidence is clad in steel, Sacramento does not appear to be far behind.
Mourinho really kicked into life once the second half started, coaxing, cajoling and eventually able to celebrate an important victory.
He was urging calm in the first half when Spurs were over-anxious, but also turning to Sacramento in fury gesturing about the lack of communication between goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga and defender Davinson Sanchez.
After the break, Mourinho and his team were transformed.
And the night was summed up by Mourinho’s reaction to Harry Kane’s equaliser, created by Lucas Moura after Serge Aurier’s quick throw-in caught Olympiakos off guard – pointing towards an alert ball boy in elation before hugging the youngster for what the new Spurs manager regarded as a full-on assist because of his quick-fire actions.
It was a nice moment of headline-grabbing connection between Mourinho and his new club’s supporters, a clever piece of stage management by someone who knows all those tricks.
Mourinho will enjoy the inevitable pictures of that embrace, knowing full well it will play well with some supporters who have greeted his arrival with suspicion after the departure of a manager held in so much affection and esteem.
Mourinho has said he will not make the mistakes that scarred the end of his time with Chelsea and Manchester United, when discontent soured the air and he was a malign presence, so it was intriguing to hear his apology to Dier for that early substitution. It was certainly not a humiliation, merely a necessity.
Time will tell if the lessons have truly been learned and the new ‘Humble One’ will be sustained, but Mourinho’s first moves have been sound ones.
Of greater significance will be what he saw on the field and he will know that this was a mixed bag, despite the ultimately convincing scoreline.