Is winning enough for Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham?

Jose Mourinho considered football’s return a “public service”, a piercing shot of distraction, lifting us from our living rooms and into hollow stadiums. But, then, is there not also a vague sense of duty, an obligation even, to entertain? Since the restart, Tottenham have won, lost and drawn, fought resiliently and unravelled spectacularly, and somehow remain within reach of the Europa League. But rarely have they ever truly inspired.

It’s a criticism now habitually levelled at Mourinho: a cautious and restrictive, stubbornly counter-attacking brand of football. Spurs have regressed from bold and brave to beige and unimaginative in the space of 12 months, their irregularities ironed into a rigid but effective system. Despite it feeling like a dated solution to a fresh problem, by and large, it has been a success.

Mourinho would be the first to highlight that he’s taken Tottenham from the brink of implosion to a potential top-six finish. He’s pieced together a new structure from broken parts, carrying over all the aches and pains of last year’s titanic Champions League campaign, scoring more goals and conceding fewer, with Spurs fourth in the form table during his time in charge. The prospect of a potentially season-defining game against Leicester alone would have felt like a mirage when he replaced Mauricio Pochettino in November.

It’s not to doubt Mourinho’s ability, which comes gilded with indisputable history, but whether the pursuit of three points alone in modern football, for an elite side such as Tottenham, is actually enough anymore? Winning is the difference between Europe and mid-table, elation and despair, but what happens when it comes at the expense of the sheer enjoyment and extremes experienced en route.

During this period of behind closed doors games, each team’s identity has been distilled and laid bare in the training game-esque…

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