Mourinho revels in return to 'natural habitat' after winning Tottenham bow

By Jamie Smith 23 November 2019 11
Mourinho revels in return to 'natural habitat' after winning Tottenham bow

Jose Mourinho revelled in returning to his "natural habitat" of a Premier League dugout after his Tottenham side earned a 3-2 derby victory at West Ham to give him a winning start.

Mourinho was appointed as Mauricio Pochettino's successor this week and oversaw Spurs' first away Premier League win since January.

Goals from Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and Harry Kane set up a triumph more comfortable than a scoreline affected by late consolations from Michail Antonio and Angelo Ogbonna suggested, though Declan Rice also had a goal ruled out by VAR.

Mourinho had been out of work since being sacked by Manchester United almost a year ago, while he was seemingly overlooked by big clubs including Juventus.

"The most difficult moments in the 11 months were when I didn't have a pre-season and was looking at other clubs and managers doing it," Mourinho told reporters.

"Sometimes I was at football games and I was thinking 'what am I doing here', in the [directors'] box or the [television] studio. Today I was where I belong, my natural habitat."

Mourinho explained the approach he has taken at Tottenham since taking over from Pochettino, who led the team to last season's Champions League final.

"I tried to give the players comfort, especially in this moment where [there was] a little bit of emotion around it and tried to give them comfort by asking of them things that they can give," the former Chelsea and Manchester United manager added.

"Sometimes we complicate things and ask things of the players that they're not ready to give. I try to ask the boys, Dele [Alli], of course Harry, Son, Lucas, Harry Winks, Eric [Dier], I tried to give them exactly what the easiest job is for them, adapted to their qualities and I think Dele feels very comfortable in this role, with freedom but following principles and things that we do in training.

"So I think they're fine. We have a game in two days [against Olympiacos on Tuesday]. I think we can go and win that match at home and qualify in the Champions League and I think the mood becomes high for the boys."

Pressure is growing on West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini after a sixth loss in seven Premier League games, with backup goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez continuing to struggle deputising for Lukasz Fabianski.

"We need to win the next games, the media asks the same question," said Pellegrini, whose side are away to in-form Chelsea next weekend. 

"We must win the next game and then we will see what happens. These are not the results we expected, especially at home. It is a tight Premier League this season but we need to improve in all of our play."

Asked about Roberto's poor form, the goalkeeper conceding three times for the third league game in a row, Pellegrini added: "I do not want to talk about the goalkeeper."

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Jamie Smith