Tottenham: Is Jose’s recruitment to blame for current woes?

Nicholas Hughes
Tottenham: Is Jose’s recruitment to blame for current woes?

Tottenham’s recent struggles have seen them fall to ninth in the Premier League, and Jose Mourinho’s poor recruitment could be the reason why.

It appeared that Jose Mourinho was back in business at the top of the managerial food chain, but a run of just three wins in their last 13 league fixtures has called his job into question.

According to Transfermarkt, Mourinho spent €110.5 million on new players in the summer, but have his signings made the side better or contributed to their downfall?

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has undoubtedly been the standout of the summer signings, arriving from Southampton for an estimated £15 million.

The Dane has played every minute of Tottenham’s Premier League campaign so far and has one goal and three assists to his name. According to Football Critic, he leads the team in recoveries, touches and passes per 90 minutes.

Mourinho has always prioritised defensive midfield as a focus area wherever he has been – Nemanja Matic, Thiago Motta, Sami Khedira and Michael Essien are just a few of his signings in that area across his career.

Hojbjerg has already proven to be a perfect Mourinho player and has arguably been Spurs’ best throughout the campaign, but his teammates haven’t pulled the same weight with their performances.

Matt Doherty

Coming from Wolves in the summer, Matt Doherty landed in London with a considerable amount of hype surrounding him.

But after an inconsistent start to the campaign and an apparent inability to play in a back four, the Irishman has been ousted of his first-team spot by Serge Aurier, a player that looked dead and buried at Spurs.

Doherty has played just 11 times in the league and featured only three times in Spurs’ last eight outings, with a sharp decline in both defensive and creative output compared to his last season with Wolves.

StatisticDoherty at SpursDoherty at Wolves
Crosses P901.91.4
Recoveries P903.95
Duels won P906.87
Final third passes P9011.214.5
via FootballCritic

Gareth Bale

The return of the prodigal son from Real Madrid was billed as a huge coup for Spurs and for the league, but Gareth Bale has been a shadow of the player Spurs had sent to Spain with their blessings eight years ago.

Only Dele Alli and Carlos Vinicius have made less than his two starts, and he falls in the bottom five in overall appearances so far with eight.

In those eight games, Bale has managed only one goal and one assist, though a productive cameo as a substitute in the West Ham defeat has raised hope of an imminent improvement.

At 31 years of age, Bale could well be playing for his future for the remainder of the season with no obligation to buy inserted into his loan deal.

The bib has been a persistent feature of Bale’s matchday attire…

The bib has been a persistent feature of Bale’s matchday attire…

Other Tottenham signings

Similar to Hojbjerg, Sergio Reguilon has been one of Tottenham’s brighter sparks throughout the season, with his three assists placing him level with the Dane and behind only Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane.

He has made the left-back position his own, and Spurs will be boosted by his return from injury for the remainder of the campaign.

Joe Rodon arrived from Swansea in the Championship with relatively low expectations and hasn’t outplayed those expectations as yet, while Carlos Vinicius has failed to offer anything domestically with no goals in six appearances on loan from Benfica.

Is it all their fault?

It’s hard to level any accusations of fault on any one or number of players, particularly new seasons and even more so new signings in the middle of a pandemic.

But the question becomes not necessarily about the players that have arrived, but whether or not they were the correct decisions by the management.

It is clear that Spurs are screaming out for a decent back-up centre forward, and Mourinho also failed to bring in a creative midfielder, instead phasing out Dele Alli and failing to get the most out of Giovani Lo Celso, Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn.

The League Cup final in April could prove pivotal to the Portuguese keeping his job, but if he is to stay put, he will need to make much better use of the summer window than he did last year.