Mourinho, Tottenham lack creativity against promising Everton

Tottenham and Everton were only separated by Dominic Calvert-Lewin‘s 55th-minute goal at the Tottenham Stadium, but the game, which finished 1-0 to the visitors, suggested there is a bigger gulf in their respective searches for identity and improvement, and that should trouble home manager Jose Mourinho.

The new Premier League campaign began with both of these traditionally big clubs hoping the cult of their highly decorated manager can take them to the next level. Mourinho’s track record in delivering trophies raises hope Spurs will finally have silverware to show for years of progress on and off the field, while Carlo Ancelotti’s pedigree offers Everton’s a chance to use owner Farhad Moshiri’s financial clout to bridge the gap with the elite.

Tottenham operate under greater expectations, given their achievements in recent seasons, but Sunday’s proceedings suggest there must be concern that Mourinho is in danger of falling behind Ancelotti in addressing the specific issues that have held both clubs back.

Ratings: Alli 4/10, Kane 5/10 as Spurs slump

For too long, Everton’s central midfield has lacked creativity and resilience. Ancelotti sought to resolve this in emphatic fashion by signing Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure and James Rodriguez; all three started here and quickly established control in a distinctly un-Everton-like manner. After all, they had not beaten an established top-six team in 40 matches and not won at Tottenham for 12 years.

Both unwanted records have gone and it was not the result of a smash-and-grab. Spurs quickly became reliant on trying to find Son Heung-Min on the counter-attack and once Everton snuffed out that threat, the home side were alarmingly short on ideas.

Dele Alli was surprisingly withdrawn at half-time despite one or two threatening moments, most notably when unleashing a fierce 33rd-minute shot that Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford did superbly well to turn behind.

Mourinho confirmed after the game that Alli’s withdrawal was a purely tactical decision and with his replacement, Moussa Sissoko lining up on the right, Lucas Moura was switched to a No. 10 role. It was effectively an admission from their boss that Tottenham were primarily playing on the break.

Giovani Lo Celso may be absent with a hamstring problem, but the lack of clarity in attacking approach hinted at a deeper issue than just the absence of one player. Mourinho’s later changes saw Steven Bergwijn come on for Harry Winks and Tanguy Ndombele given just 14 minutes to inject some dynamism, but neither substitute made much impact.



Mark Ogden thinks James Rodriguez showed great control and vision as Everton won 1-0 away at Tottenham.

Contrast that with the incision offered by Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, who should have opened the scoring after 16 minutes when seizing upon Ben Davies‘ misplaced pass to round Hugo Lloris, only to sky a left-foot shot with the goal at his mercy from an admittedly tight angle. Ten minutes after half-time, the…

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