Ian Holloway talks Tottenham: Box office Jose Mourinho, Christian Eriksen’s future and Mauricio Pochettino to Arsenal

Ian Holloway by Ian Holloway / 26 November 2019, 14:39

It’s been a week since Tottenham sacked Mauricio Pochettino and appointed Jose Mourinho, so we caught up with Ian Holloway to grab his thoughts on the managerial switch, Mourinho’s box-office status, his relationship with Daniel Levy, and the Spurs players that could now thrive under his tutorship. The future of Christian Eriksen was also discussed, plus what could be next-in-line for Pochettino.

What was your initial reaction to Tottenham sacking Mauricio Pochettino, and then appointing Jose Mourinho?

My initial reaction was ‘wow’, not due to the fact that Mauricio Pochettino had left but it was the fact that Jose Mourinho was appointed so quickly.

Being in football for as long as I have, Tottenham couldn’t have done that in 12 hours without any previous conversations being held.

This must of been something they’ve been planning for a while and Mourinho’s benefited from that because he was out there and he was free.

For me there’s got to be a big change at Tottenham and it’s going to be very interesting watching it.

Mauricio operated within the club’s spending limits, oversaw the club during the stadium change, and built a team the supporters can be proud of. However, the hierarchy must have thought ‘hang on a minute, let’s get someone in with experience who can take us to the next level and win things’. 

We will have to wait and see what happens, but I think it’s the most interesting appointment for someone like me to look at in particular to see if Tottenham bring back Mourinho’s magic, because without a shadow of a doubt he’s been a magician in my time.

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Christian Eriksen: Will he stay or will he go?

Are you happy to see Mourinho back in the Premier League?

He is box office, absolute top box office.

If there was an actor you could give a role to who could improve your ratings straight away it’s Mourinho. Mauricio Pochettino isn’t that yet, he just isn’t.

I never fell out of love with Mourinho but I can understand how he was feeling at Man Utd.

In management, there are two things you need to do. You manage below, so that’s your players, your staff and the crowd, but at bigger clubs you need to manage above you.

The bigger the club, the more people there are above you. I think Mourinho got fed up with the people above him at Man Utd because they weren’t doing it right.

We also saw that at Chelsea, he had an argument with the doctor, things weren’t going the way he wanted in the end and the players stopped playing for him.

They downed their tools because obviously they had enough of something, or he lost a bit of spark, or got a bit angry.

But to hear people describe him as ‘yesterday’s man’ is absolute rubbish. To go to the countries he did, with the media he’s had to face, he got fed up with it all.

I now hope I see the Mourinho who is really truly in there, because he’s a bright sparkly genius, and there’s a secret little glint back in his eye, and I love it.

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What do you think Mourinho’s relationship with Daniel Levy will be like?

That will be testing, Daniel won’t get it all his own way in this relationship.

Jose managers to get big people to spend big money, so maybe Tottenham are ready for that. 

Levy has not had to pay compensation for Mourinho either. He’s managed to get one of the best managers in the world for nothing, it’s not a bad bit of business. 

Which Tottenham players have the potential to thrive under Mourinho?

If we take Frank Lampard and John Terry for example, look at how they blossomed under Mourinho when he was at Chelsea. I know they were good before but under Mourinho they became the best players in the world in their position.

Without a shadow of a doubt, Mourinho made them believe that feat was possible for them. He did that over and over again over the course of his career.

I was quietly chuffed with the difference I saw in Dele Alli against West Ham, because I think the lad has had a hard time.

He got slated a few weeks ago by a lot of ex-players, which they were right to do in a way because we’ve all had to take it at some point in our careers, but it was a very public grilling of him, which is not always what a player needs.

I saw some very brilliant signs of recovery by him, I thought he was wonderful. 

When he fell on the floor on Saturday and he still had the nous to backheel it up the line, which led to a goal, it was amazing. It was a stroke of genius.

I think Harry Winks will also blossom under Mourinho. He’s a really great player, and we’ve got the best to come from him, but I want him to become a winner. 

It’s all well and good going through midfield and keeping things tidy but you have to have that nasty streak and I think Mourinho’s got a nasty streak and he encourages that out of people.

Does Christian Eriksen have a future at Tottenham?

At Tottenham there’s a huge discrepancy. Harry Kane is earning a lot of money compared to a lot of the other players. That’s what I think the problem is.

Being blunt, if Christian Eriksen went somewhere else then him and his agent will get a signing-on fee that’s similar to a transfer fee. You won’t get the same type of money from Tottenham, unless Mourinho forces Daniel Levy to rebuy Eriksen.

I know that when you’re out of contract, your agent will be telling you that you can get a certain figure at a club and he’s legally allowed to do that after January, but they do it all the time anyway.

To sign Eriksen, someone will pay him the equivalent of the fee that they would have had to have paid to the club to buy him. That’s what’s wrong with football at the moment.  

Anybody who is over the age of 24 who you bought can now demand that fee with his agent. In reality for Tottenham to keep him they will have to pay Eriksen twice. 

Who knows, Mourinho could just decide to force him out in January.

Where will we see Mauricio Pochettino next?

He’s going to put pressure on every other manager in the world at the moment. 

Imagine what clubs would have had to have paid for him this time last season? I think £35million was mentioned at one point, but now you can get him for nothing.

What he’s been apart of at Tottenham has been massive, however as I’ve said all along, he hasn’t won anything and I will be judge him at the end of his career by what he wins. 

To be labelled one of the great managers, you’ve got to win something.

Mauricio likes to build things, he likes control. Last summer he claimed he was a head coach instead of a manager, he said he wasn’t in charge of signing players, so maybe he didn’t like that.

I know that he’s a big disciplinarian and he won’t suffer fools gladly. I’m not sure how he feels, I don’t know the man but let’s be honest, he’s left a club with one of the best stadiums in the world, one of the best training grounds in the world - where you can actually sleep there in your pyjamas if you need to - so what level does he want to go in at?

It’s going to be massive in my opinion.

Could you see him at Arsenal if Unai Emery leaves?

I’m not sure he’d want to do that, personally I don’t think he’d want to do that to the Tottenham fans, they’ve been brilliant to him.

Do you think Pochettino could decide to take a sabbatical?

It’s all about how he feels. To me he looks tired, I would urge him to take a break. 

It takes it out of you, the pressure of it all, the size of the club and facing the press all the time.

You’ve got to go back to me at Crystal Palace, I needed a rest. I made a mistake and pretty much went directly from Palace to Millwall, and as a result I don’t think Millwall saw my best. 

READ: Crystal Palace Exclusive: Ian Holloway on succeeding Dougie Freedman, winning promotion, calling it quits and nearly signing Nicklas Bendtner

I needed a break, being a manager can be draining. 

Who motivates the motivator? In some of Mauricio’s last few press conferences he looked tired, so he may now decide to take some time away from the game.

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