by Matt Stone
Mauricio Pochettino had five and a half successful years as Head Coach at Tottenham Hotspur. He failed to win any trophies but the team and the Club undeniably moved forward, better squad, new stadium and training ground.
Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho, a pantomime villain at Spurs for his time at Chelsea, had been sacked from the Blues for a second time and then from Manchester United, after seeming to fall out of love with football.
After losing in the UEFA Champions League final in May, ‘Poch’ cut an increasingly unhappy figure. Rumours of him being unable to lift himself or the team coincided with just 25 points from 24 games.
But no one seriously expected the bombshell on Tuesday 19 November. Poch sacked. The Mourinho rumours began immediately, his price at the bookmakers to be the next manager plummeting to 1/6, then 1/7, then 1/8 then betting was suspended. Dissenting tweets from Spurs fans reached nearly 200 an hour.
By 6.30 the next morning, fans were angry. Mourinho was confirmed, days after Spurs fans laughed at the prospect of the ‘Special One’ joining rivals Arsenal. Now, the man so long associated with Chelsea was in charge. Yet the velocity of negative tweets dropped to 44 per hour.
We then saw a triumph of modern communication. Spurs produced a video interview with Mourinho on their official platforms. It was a masterclass, a best practice example of easing fans through the grief. Jose pushed all the right buttons, counselling fans by using the ‘passion’ connector word repeatedly, showing the beginnings of an authentic love for the club, interacting with focused players in exclusive content and most of all, looking happy – something conspicuously missing from his last two, grumpy, appointments. Fans began bargaining – it just might be ok after all. Negative tweets dropped to just 6 per hour.
All eyes were then on his first press conference at 2pm on the 21st. Which Jose would fans see – the ‘Special One’? The ‘Miserable One’? The ‘Arrogant One’? All would have increased the depression fans might have felt. Instead they got the ‘Humble One’, someone honoured at being employed by a club with such a great stadium, perfect training facilities and a group of players he had praised in the past. Negative tweets finally stood at only 1.7 per hour.
Two days later, Spurs travel to the London Stadium to face West Ham in Mourinho’s first game. The team looks re-energised and re-focused. They race into a 3-0 lead, then concede two late goals, but all seems well. There is a dignified applause from Mourinho to the travelling fans.
After the game tweets were running at a lower level than before the Poch sacking. It’s been a masterclass in transition and communication from the Club.