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A shortcut deal with the devil

OPINION: By replacing Mauricio Pochettino with Jose Mourinho, Spurs have seemingly grown tired of building the club organically

22 November, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is the new boss at Spurs

YOU’LL know this up in the craft beer pubs, but the fable which lies behind nearly all of your favourite blues music is that of Robert Johnson, a journeyman who wanted to master the guitar.

To do so he took an unnatural shortcut, turning up at “the crossroads” at midnight, where he made a deal with a devil.

The devil tuned up the instrument, did some spell-casting and soon – voila! – Johnson could play like no other.

In exchange, the devil took his soul.

Johnson didn’t live to see his 30th birthday and as it was so long ago there’s no way of fact-checking whether any of this really happened; fellow bluesmen from the age simply said he got really good really quickly.

But his legend will live on forever as one of the fathers of the genre.

The story has been told and retold over the decades in different versions and with different characters, but folks, put on that razorblade blues music tonight, there’s a new Faustian pact we must learn from.

For there’s nothing really wrong with life at Spurs, they may have lost the women’s north London derby this weekend, but they have a good men’s team with good players – the England captain, no less – and a grand new stadium at White Hart Lane.

Mauricio Pochettino

And yet they have grown tired of building a club organically, tired of that admirable patience involved in developing talented youth players or carefully scouting players who are better than more expensive buys.

Tottenham now want to take that ill-advised shortcut.

Mauricio Pochettino may not have won a trophy, but he had made Spurs vague title contenders and, more impressively, took the club to the Champions League final.

Let’s get some perspective: it’s not so long ago that this would be a fantasy scenario for a club that had burned through about 20 managers without much progress.

Pochettino was made to work under constrained budgets and with player unrest probably caused by unhelpful agents.

He probably didn’t always take the FA Cup seriously enough on occasions, granted, but he still made Tottenham a far more terrifying prospect than Martin Jol or Juande Ramos or any of the other dweebs ever did.

But Spurs went to the crossroads anyway, to make a devil’s deal.

By replacing Pochettino with the snakebite of former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, Tottenham may have got themselves the winning manager they have long been searching for.

But that club of proud tradition may well have just exchanged its soul as well.


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