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What Jose Mourinho needs to do to get Tottenham’s rollercoaster season back on track

Tottenham have followed bitter rivals Arsenal in returning to training after being forced to stay indoors following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

It has been six long weeks since the Premier League came to an abrupt halt but now Spurs have been given the green light to resume training again – as long as they adhere to social distancing rules.

It has been nothing short of a PR disaster for the club since the world went into lockdown, with chairman Daniel Levy initially furloughing non-playing staff before going back on his decision as a result of public outrage.

Jose Mourinho will be reunited with his Tottenham players for training on Tuesday

Jose Mourinho will be reunited with his Tottenham players for training on Tuesday

Jose Mourinho will be reunited with his Tottenham players for training on Tuesday

The controversy didn’t stop there after Jose Mourinho was spotted taking ‘life-risking’ training sessions in a public London park as he desperately tried to get the jump on his Premier League rivals.

Now, Mourinho won’t have to break lockdown rules as he welcomed Harry Kane and Co back to the club’s training complex on Tuesday morning.

But what will Mourinho be working on ahead of the Premier League’s long-awaited return? Here, Sportsmail looks at some of the key areas the Special One will be focusing on as he bids to turn Spurs’ rollercoaster season around.

SHORE UP HIS LEAKY DEFENCE

While it is obvious that any squad will need to work on their defence, it’s especially alarming when Mourinho – a manager renowned for bringing defensive stability to a team – is leaking goals left, right and centre.

In his first 26 games in charge at Spurs, his side have conceded 38 times at a rate of 1.46 goals per match – the worst start he’s had since becoming a manager. 

His side’s inability to keep clean sheets has also cost him 10 defeats in that time while they were dumped out of both the Champions League and FA Cup days before Covid-19 shut football down.

Spurs have looked shaky in defence and have been leaking plenty of goals this season

Spurs have looked shaky in defence and have been leaking plenty of goals this season

Spurs have looked shaky in defence and have been leaking plenty of goals this season

This problem isn’t exclusive to Mourinho – the team were shipping goals during Mauricio Pochettino’s final year at the club that eventually led to the Argentine being sacked after five years in charge.

However, when comparing the two bosses’ starts at the club, Pochettino’s is far more impressive, statistically speaking, with the Argentine winning 54 per cent of his games in charge compared to Mourinho’s 42 per cent. 

Now, considering Mourinho has a ‘mini-preseason’ to fix these issues, Spurs fans will be hoping to turn their state-of-the-art stadium into a fortress, just like how Mourinho did at Real Madrid, Chelsea and Inter Milan.

GET NDOMBELE MATCH FIT AND ON SIDE

Before the season was abruptly stopped, Tottenham’s record summer signing, Tanguy Ndombele, was heavily criticised for his work ethic and fitness levels.

While the Frenchman looked to be worth every penny Spurs spent on him while attacking, defensively he fell alarmingly short, with many chastising him for failing to track back and offer support to his team-mates.

Mourinho himself has publicly bashed the 23-year-old for his injury issues and fitness levels. So much so that the Spurs boss oversaw a training session with the midfielder on Hadley Common in Barnet earlier this month, enraging Tottenham chiefs and government ministers.

Mourinho has publicly bashed Tanguy Ndombele (right) this season for his lack of fitness

Mourinho has publicly bashed Tanguy Ndombele (right) this season for his lack of fitness

Mourinho has publicly bashed Tanguy Ndombele (right) this season for his lack of fitness

These accumulative issues have resulted in Ndombele being linked with a move away from the club before he’s even completed a full season at Spurs.

While the problems are apparent, they can certainly be fixed given the right approach is made to solve the issues.

Using the next few weeks to convince Ndombele that Tottenham is the place to be while getting his head down will be imperative to getting Spurs back up in the hunt for a Champions League place come the end of the season. 

FIGURE OUT HIS BEST MIDFIELD PAIRING

While Ndombele fits into this category, Mourinho will have to work out how his midfield will operate ahead of the season’s restart.

The return of Moussa Sissoko from injury will be a welcome addition but Mourinho’s golden boy Eric Dier will likely be banned after he climbed into the stands at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to confront a fan after Spurs were knocked out of the FA Cup by Norwich.

Harry Winks has shown he can hold his own in the heart of Spurs’ midfield but injury problems and a suitable defensive partner have been hard to come by since Moussa Dembele left for China last summer.

Gedson Fernandes also looks promising but has only had a limited amount of game time since joining on loan in the summer.

Should Mourinho figure out a carousel system while each midfielder is firing on all cylinders, then Mourinho will have a serious chance of turning things around. 

Eric Dier (right) will likely be banned after he charged into the stands to confront a supporter

Eric Dier (right) will likely be banned after he charged into the stands to confront a supporter

Eric Dier (right) will likely be banned after he charged into the stands to confront a supporter

WORK ON CREATING AN IDENTITY AND STICKING TO A COHESIVE PLAN

It’s been five months since Mourinho inherited Pochettino’s struggling squad having taken over the reigns in mid-November.

And while the Portuguese boss has been particularly unlucky with injuries, he will have no excuse when he will have a near fully-fit squad at his disposal when football returns this summer.

In the 26 games he’s managed at Spurs, he has used 26 different players after being left with the bare bones of a tired squad, which saw key men Hugo Lloris, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min pick up big injuries in that time.

Since Mourinho took charge on November 20, Tottenham saw their starting XI change 46 times in a bid to work around the list of injuries while Mourinho has used seven different formations – the second highest in the Premier League behind Brighton – to figure out the best system for his players. 

It appears as though Spurs got that ‘new manager bounce’ following an electric start under Mourinho, which saw them score 12 goals in his first four games while they won six of Mourinho’s opening eight games as boss.

That form faded quickly as the months went on after long-ball tactics employed and a lack of backbone saw Spurs tumbled down the table. This led to a frustrated fanbase demanding answers whether Mourinho is the right man for the job.

Now, with weeks of preparation, the title-winning 57-year-old can finally make his mark on the squad who are desperate to win some silverware.

COME UP WITH A PLAN B

Since Kane picked up a hamstring injury in the defeat by Southampton earlier this year, Spurs looked relatively toothless in attack.

That problem wasn’t helped when Son fractured his arm against Burnley, with the pair looking to miss a huge chunk of the season.

The two injuries highlighted that Mourinho lacked a solid ‘Plan B’ and while it would be harsh to criticise him when he was without his two best players, the problem needs to be addressed.

During the lockdown, Kane revealed that he would consider leaving his boyhood club if he believed they weren’t heading the right direction.

Kane’s comments saw long-term admirers Manchester United and Real Madrid lining up £200million bids, leaving supporters dismayed that they could see their talismanic striker head for the exit.

Harry Kane revealed he could leave Spurs which would leave Mourinho with little fire-power

Harry Kane revealed he could leave Spurs which would leave Mourinho with little fire-power

Harry Kane revealed he could leave Spurs which would leave Mourinho with little fire-power

Son Heung-min is currently fulfilling his military service back home in South Korea

Son Heung-min is currently fulfilling his military service back home in South Korea

Son Heung-min is currently fulfilling his military service back home in South Korea

The very possible scenario would present Mourinho with the issue of having just Son as his only goal-getter. However, with the way Spurs have set up under Mourinho, they’d be lacking that integral target man to hold up play – something the manager himself pointed out in the days after Kane picked up his injury. 

Kane will have likely recovered from his hamstring issue once the Premier League returns but a gap on the left-hand side will be left by Son, who is currently fulfilling his military service back home in South Korea.

It would mean the 27-year-old will not be fully fit until July, having missed out on properly training with his team-mates before the resumption of the current campaign.

While Steven Bergwijn will be a more than suitable replacement for Son on the left, it still poses the question whether Mourinho has a suitable Plan B should he need it in Spurs’ final nine games. 

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