Jose Mourinho is absolutely box office. We know it, he knows it and if Harry Kane didn’t, Mourinho told him straight up in their first one-to-one meeting at Tottenham.
‘The world looks to English football with incredible respect but they still think the movie stars of football belong to other places,’ Mourinho says to his captain in episode one of the gripping behind the scenes Amazon documentary, All or Nothing.
‘I think we have to build your status in that direction. My profile, I am a little bit, I am a little bit that as a coach. The reality is that my dimension is universal and by being with me, I can help you too.’
Kane, for what it’s worth, agreed with his new manager.
‘That’s my aim. When you are at a club like Tottenham, of course we have done well and I have done well but I want to be like Ronaldo, like Messi.’
‘It is not enough,’ Mourinho said of Tottenham’s past. ‘What I don’t accept, because it is my f***ing nature, I don’t accept to be here winning nothing, f***ing hell. I don’t.
‘But I feel that we can. Because of you. Because of you. You have better players than I had at Manchester United. I think the club has a lot to explode. I am here. Ok?’
It’s a curious opening 22 minutes that precede Mourinho’s whirlwind arrival at Tottenham in the first installment.
It feels like a Daniel Levy puff piece that frames his decision to axe Mauricio Pochettino as an inevitable necessity, not the merciless and, truthfully surprising, swing of the scythe that it was.
Levy talks about how 600 jobs depend on the club’s success. Narrator Tom Hardy talks ominously of how ‘the hangover of the Champions League final seems very real’ and for the most part, we see snaps of Pochettino answering media questions with one-word responses, almost as if he is clueless in how to revive the flagging team.
After the news breaks, Levy is seen sat alone in the dark at the Spurs canteen.
‘A lot of heartache, is the honest answer,’ he says of the decision. ‘My heart was telling me don’t do it, my brain was telling me I need to. It was the most emotional decision I’ve ever had to make. It was more than just an employee/employer relationship.
‘We went away together, we had a lot of fun times outside the club. I’m sure after, in a while, maybe we will continue doing that. At the moment things are a little bit raw which is understandable, mixed emotions. It’s not a nice experience for either of us.’
Enter Mourinho. Oh how these Amazon producers must have been counting the lucky stars shining over the club’s Enfield training base as they sat with Levy that night. The Spurs chairman certainly was – Mourinho’s charisma has him eating out of the palm of his hand straight away.
‘It’s like a wedding,’ Mourinho jokes when he poses alongside his new chairman for an unveiling photograph, with Levy very much the blushing bride.
For the players, the shockwaves were still reverberating. Sat in the very canteen where Levy was having a moment the night before, Harry Winks ponders how tactical training is going to become, while Kane reveals he spoke to Pochettino the night he was sacked and learned he was told to pack up his office right away.
But it’s Dele Alli who gets the sharp end of Mourinho’s early attention. After trying to cajole a bit of movement from him during his first session, Mourinho told him, in a mildly playful tone, that he’s ‘f***ing lazy’.
He continues: ‘I’m going to be a pain in the a** on you and you are lucky, you are lucky. When I am a pain in the a** it is a good thing.’
But for all the showmanship of his first day, Mourinho has his chinks in his armour, too.
As he gets to work in his office, a discussion plays out on his television between two Spurs fans who are not only sad to see Pochettino go, but are also damning of the appointment of a ‘past it’ Mourinho.
It clearly stung him. He got up, walked over to his television and turned it off, shouting ‘f*** off!’ on his way back to his desk.
Later, Levy stops by and tiptoes into Mourinho’s lair like a dad wary of embarrassing their teenage son. The Portuguese wastes no time in telling Levy he has work to do with Alli.
‘I can already tell Dele, very very directly, he doesn’t train well. He’s not a good trainer. I’m not saying a disaster, but he’s not Harry Kane,’ Mourinho says.
‘He was in the England squad, he’s not now. Two years ago, he was up here,’ Levy replies, prompting a fascinating admission from Mourinho.
‘Sir Alex Ferguson gave me only one piece of advice in two-and-a-half years (at Manchester United) – buy Dele Alli,’ he reveals, with Levy beaming at gleaning such information.
‘”That guy, that mentality, the way he plays, the aggression he has in his mind, this guy is a Manchester United player. Buy that guy”‘Mourinho continues, quoting Fergie. ‘And he has an eye for players.
‘But he is not a good trainer, we need to find the right motivation for the guy.’
Mourinho even scorns Alli in his first team meeting before facing West Ham.
‘Where is Dele? I understand already that you are a f***ing lazy guy in training. I don’t need more days. Lazy,’ he said. But when Alli keeps the ball in play with an inventive flick before Lucas Moura makes it 2-0 during the game itself, Mourinho can’t praise the midfielder from the sidelines quickly enough.
The relationship with Alli is a fascinating sub-plot to the early episodes. Mourinho soon brings him in to his office for a chat alone and adopts a completely different tone.
‘I like you as a player and also as a kid,’ Mourinho says. ‘I don’t want to be your father, you have a father. I just want to be your coach but with a good connection. I have to tell you always what I think, inside of you, maybe you tell me to f*** off.
‘I have no doubts about your potential. I saw you do incredible matches and incredible things. But I always felt you had ups and downs. There is a huge difference between a player that keeps consistency and a player that has moments.
‘That is what makes a difference between a top, top player and a player with top potential. It is something you don’t have to share with me, I think it is for you to analyse yourself and to realise why my career has been MK Dons, Tottenham, national team, BANG, you reach the top and then… (gestures up and down with his hands).
‘I don’t know if it has to be through your lifestyle, if in one period you are an amazing professional and then in another you become a party boy. Only you can know that.
‘I am 56 now and yesterday, yesterday I was 20. And now I am 56. Time flies. And I think one day you do regret if you don’t reach what you can reach. I’m not expecting you to be the man of the match every game, score goals every game, I just want to tell you I think I you could regret.
‘I think you should demand more from you. Not me, demand more from you. Not me, nobody. You.’
Alli was clearly uncomfortable with facing up to how his career had meandered, but he was hanging on every word Mourinho said. And in the early days of Mourinho’s tenure, his upturn in form was particularly remarkable.
Alli’s fortunes are in parallel to Christian Eriksen, whose contract stand-off is laid bare to Mourinho in a talk with Levy in episode three.
‘It’s so complicated with him,’ Levy explains. ‘The problem we have with Christian, none of us know what the real truth is. His agent controls everything and there is no dialogue between his agent and the club at all.
‘If he’s got six months left, whether he’s signed (for another team) or not signed, he’s subconsciously going to be (wary of injury), it’s going to be in his head.’
Towards the end of the third episode, Levy revisits the topic with Mourinho and gets him to agree to try one last time to convince the Dane to stay.
Mourinho’s charm is evident but amid the ego and the soaring self-confidence, a softer side to him is presented in several moments.
In a half-time team talk against Olympiacos, for example, his voice is notably soft, almost soothing, as he pleads for calmness in his side’s play. You won’t have heard his tone like that before.
It was a far cry from the pre-match team-talk, where Serge Aurier was scalded in front of his team-mates.
Running through his tactics at defending corners, Mourinho says: ‘Serge, you are a marker. You speak good English?’
‘I am afraid of you as a marker,’ Mourinho booms. ‘Because you are capable of doing a s*** penalty with VAR. So I am telling you already, I am afraid of you.’
Remarkably, Aurier scores the third goal as Tottenham overturn a 2-0 deficit to win 4-2.
Elsewhere, Mourinho clearly takes to Eric Dier very quickly. Dier also gets a meeting in Mourinho’s office, where they speak in Portuguese.
He verbally jousts Davinson Sanchez for Ajax ‘s***ting themselves’ in the Europa League final they lost to Mourinho’s Manchester United. And when a press officer warns him before his unveiling about being asked of a ‘betrayal’ of his Chelsea roots by joining Spurs, he retorts: ‘I won them three league titles and they sack me. That’s the betrayal.’
Mourinho is obsessed with catching Chelsea and dislodging them from the top four in the early episodes.
Obviously, we know how that unravels but watching him plot and plan and scheme a way to rebuild Tottenham, it’s easy to get swept up in Mourinho’s charisma and to think that Levy was completely justified in axing Pochettino.
There is little detail on how Mourinho wants his side to play, what is philosophy is and how he is trying to get there. Hopefully more light is shone on that in following episodes.