Little did he know that six months later he’d be under threat of becoming the very same thing.
If Spurs fans had it their way, Mourinho would have been made to walk the plank a long time ago. As it goes he’s still clinging on to the helm, steering the ship that little bit further away from Europe with each passing week while disgruntling his sail-mates more and more almost to the point of mutiny.
Jose Mourinho has cut a frustrated figure at Tottenham while it’s been all smiles for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Tottenham’s season has been mainly downhill since they thrashed United 6-1 in October
Even Daniel Levy, who has such admiration for Mourinho and his achievements, has had his faith in him pushed and tested to the extent that he is now considering life after The Special One, with Julian Nagelsmann and Brendan Rodgers being eyed up as possible replacements.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described that 6-1 drubbing against Tottenham as his ‘worst day ever,’ and his job did hang in the balance for a month or so after that result, but he has overseen such a drastic turnaround since then that there is now talk of him getting a new contract – £10million a year to boot.
United look like qualifying for next season’s Champions League comfortably and find themselves in a favourable position to win the Europa League this season.
Spurs made good use of their advantage as they ran riot after Anthony Martial’s red card
Solskjaer described it as his ‘worst day ever,’ with the defeat almost costing him his job
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS FROM SPURS’ 6-1 WIN
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea 4; Wan-Bissaka 4, Bailly 2, Maguire 3, Shaw 2; Matic 5 (Fred 46, 5), Pogba 2; Greenwood 5 (Van De Beek 68, 5), Fernandes 4 (McTominay 46, 5), Rashford 5; Martial 1
Subs not used: Henderson, Lindelof, Lingard, Mata
Sent off: Martial
Booked: Bailly, Shaw
Goals: Fernandes (2)
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 4
Tottenham Hotspur (4-3-3): Lloris 6; Reguilon 7, Dier 6, Sanchez 5, Aurier 8; Ndombele 7 (Dele 69, 5), Hojbjerg 7, Sissoko 7; Son 9 (Davies 73, 7), Lamela 6 (Lucas 46, 7), Kane 9
Subs not used: Hart, Alderweireld, Doherty, Winks
Goals: Ndombele (4), Son (8, 37), Kane (30, 79), Aurier (51)
Manager: Jose Mourinho 9
Tottenham would have been one of United’s more formidable rivals for that particular trophy had they not capsized themselves and embarrassingly squandered a two-goal lead against Dinamo Zagreb last month.
That humiliation in Croatia marked the lowest ebb of Tottenham’s season so far, which had already had a fair few depressing moments; like the 1-1 home draw with Fulham, the defeat at Brighton, the hammerings by Liverpool and Man City and the throwaway three-goal lead against West Ham.
There has no doubt been a monumental shift in United and Tottenham’s outlook and fortunes since that afternoon at Old Trafford all those months ago.
In the 26 Premier League games that have followed, Tottenham have claimed just 12 victories and 42 points. To put their record further into perspective, United have won 15 more points from their 27 games while Brighton have lost just once more than Mourinho’s Spurs have over the past six months.
It serves as damning evidence of a horrendous campaign for Tottenham, who had started it in much more promising fashion than they look like finishing it.
Mourinho was entertaining talk of a title charge back in October so fast did they sprint out of the blocks. Now Spurs almost seem as far away from that as the HS2 is from being completed.
So when these two sides meet again this weekend, they will do so in very different circumstances.
United will fancy their chances but a draw would not be disastrous while Mourinho might just need three points to save his skin and Tottenham’s chances of finishing in the top six.
Morale in the Spurs dressing room can hardly sink to lower depths but lose this one and there may be no way back for Mourinho.
There are already whispers that he’s lost the dressing room, with some members of the squad feeling the manager has thrown the players under the bus to protect himself from criticism.
Solskjaer has turned United’s season around and is in line to be given a new contract
Spurs’ season has gone from bad to worse and are now in danger of missing out on Europe
This is how the Premier League table looks since Spurs won at Old Trafford six months ago
Tottenham have now dropped 11 points from goals conceded in the final 10 minutes this season – more than any other side in the Premier League – after drawing with Newcastle last week.
When Mourinho was asked why his side were so vulnerable late in games, when he has traditionally been a coach whose teams have seen out such slender advantages, he replied: ‘Same coach, different players.’
The Spurs players were also baffled by Mourinho’s claim defender Toby Alderweireld had missed two days of training after being left out the squad for the game at Newcastle – despite the club releasing images showing him at sessions.
It’s all getting a bit poisonous at Tottenham right now and only seems like ending one way, while Solskjaer is sitting rosy in Manchester and plotting for the future.
Failing the best plot twist since The Usual Suspects, it feels ever likely the next time these two sides meet after Sunday’s match that Solskjaer will still be in charge of United, but it won’t be Mourinho sat in the opposite dugout.
Mourinho is in a battle to save his job and will likely be axed if they finish outside the top six