Jose Mourinho claimed his "disaster" years would be regarded as career high points by many bosses as he began life as head coach of Roma.

The 58-year-old rejected any suggestions he was in decline and set his sights on bringing success to the Giallorossi, his second Italian club after a highly successful two-year stint at Inter.

Sacked by Tottenham in April, Mourinho believes it could be a long rebuild at Roma, a club that last won a trophy in 2008 when they landed the Coppa Italia.

Roma's last Scudetto came in 2001 when a star-studded side pipped Juventus to the title. Mourinho has won the Italian league title since then, guiding Inter to a Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League treble in 2010.

"I'm a victim of what I've done and the way people look at me," Mourinho said in a news conference. "If you look at Man United, I won three times and was a disaster.

"At Tottenham I took over and took them to a cup final where I couldn't manage them in, and it was seen as a disaster.

"In my last three clubs I won the league title with Chelsea, three trophies with Man United, I got to a final with Tottenham. We ended up in the Europa League.

"For me that is [thought of as] a disaster, but perhaps some coaches haven't achieved that ever."

The three trophies Mourinho is counting at Manchester United are the Europa League and EFL Cup from the 2016-17 season, and the Community Shield from the beginning of that campaign.

He left United after failing to build on his early promise there and was chopped by Tottenham before their cup final last season, caretaker Ryan Mason seeing Spurs through the final weeks of the campaign.

During his Premier League career, Mourinho had a points-per-game record of 2.33 in his 2004-07 first spell at Chelsea, falling to 2.00 when he returned to Stamford Bridge from 2013 to 2015, sliding to 1.89 in his 2016-18 stint at United and then delivering at 1.64 during his Tottenham career.

At Inter his team had a 2.18 points-per-game rate, losing just eight times in Serie A across two seasons, and they achieved a league win record of 64.47 per cent.

Inter made San Siro a fortress under Mourinho, staying undefeated there over those two campaigns, winning 29 games and drawing nine.

His Nerazzurri side struggled against Roma, however, winning just one of their four Serie A meetings (D2 L1).

Mourinho stressed he returns to Italy, 11 years after leaving Inter for Real Madrid, as a more rounded personality.

"Perhaps I'm more experienced and mature now and that puts me in a more solid position from an emotional standpoint," the Portuguese said.

Roma finished seventh in the 2020-21 Serie A campaign, which leaves considerable room for improvement.

"We ended the season 29 points behind the winners and 16 points behind fourth place and we can't escape from that reality," Mourinho said. "First of all, we want to understand why and understand how we can change that.

"Time is a word that we all share. That was a key word when we met with the owners for the first time. If we can accelerate the process, all the better.

"We're not speaking about trophies. We're speaking about time, projects and work.

"Titles will come. For the owners a key principle is the idea they don't want isolated success. They want to choose success and maintain success.

"That's harder because it's easier to get that isolated success. We want to be sustainable and we are completely united on that front. It is about hard work and the rest will come."

He added: "I know the passion here, I've already changed my phone three times. Maybe it won't be pleasant for you to talk to me, for me it is essential that everything stays inside Trigoria.

"I want to get to know the squad, that's the most important thing. There are fundamental and non-negotiable principles. I want players to understand my principles right away. Anything that is not 100 per cent is not good."

Gareth Southgate and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are benefiting from Jose Mourinho's "hard-line" approach to managing Luke Shaw at Manchester United.

That is according to former England boss Steve McClaren, who believes the United full-back's strong recent form owes much to the lessons he learned under his former manager.

Shaw started just 17 Premier League games out of a possible 76 during Mourinho's two full seasons at Old Trafford and was a regular target for criticism from his boss throughout.

Disagreements between the pair have not subsided since the latter's departure from United, either, with his punditry during Euro 2020 prompting their most recent war of words.

However, McClaren is convinced that Shaw's improved performances for club and country over the past 12 months are a consequence of the tough love he received from Mourinho.

He told Stats Perform: "The key relationship is always the player and the manager. Whenever you move clubs, whenever you go to a new situation, internationals, whatever. 

"Maybe Shaw was in a moment also in his career where he needed Jose Mourinho’s management – maybe everybody's [previously] accepted [his behaviour]. 

"And maybe you come with a hard-line manager who won't accept this, won't accept that. And this player needs teaching and this player needs the hard line. 

"Unfortunately, you're the manager that suffers because of that. Because Shaw’s probably been through that and is a more mature, more professional, and a better player.

"Who's benefiting? The manager after, which is Ole and which is now Southgate with England. 

"So, it's a journey for a player and you always want a manager that likes you and loves you, plays you. 

"Sometimes you don't [have that] and that teaches you lessons that stay with you when you do come to a manager who does like [you], you love and you will play."

Shaw's recent renaissance at international level has come under the guidance of one of McClaren's former charges in Southgate.

This year, the England boss has backed up leading his country to a World Cup semi-final by helping them to the same stage of Euro 2020, prompting a nation to dream that glory could lie ahead.

And that success has come as no surprise to McClaren, who believes the Three Lions are being coached by a man who has always shown a knack for leadership and bringing people together.

He said: "I remember signing him as my first signing for Middlesbrough. [He was] an important signing and I wanted a captain, I wanted a leader in the dressing room, and I bought him for leadership. 

"He epitomised exactly what I wanted in the dressing room and on the field. One, he was a winner. He’d proven that at Aston Villa and England – he was a winner, he wanted to win. 

"Number two, he was so professional. And that's what I wanted. That was the main thing. Gareth always did the right thing every day: first in, then last away, fantastic professional. 

"And the third and most important thing was as a leader in the dressing room. He brought people together. We had a lot of foreign players, a lot of cliques in that dressing room at Middlesbrough. 

"And he would mix with them all. I always remember dinner times, lunch times, breakfast, whatever meetings we had, the cliques would always sit on one table and everyone would always sit on one side, which was fine. 

"But every meal-time Gareth used to flit from one table to the other. And he used to mix with everybody, he knew the importance of the squad, the team sticking together. 

"And that's what he's brought to England. The key thing for me is it's like England's like a club side in the present moment.

"I think being the Under-21 coach for that many years, he's had all these players, he knows them inside out. He's got a story with every one of them. 

"He knows the best ones, he knows the characters, knows what will gel, he's brought them into the England team, grown up with them really. And now they're like a club side. 

"And that's what's driving it for us."

Harry Kane has described Nuno Espirito Santo as a "great manager" but will hold off from speaking to his new Tottenham boss until after England's Euro 2020 campaign.

The 27-year-old's club future has been a hot topic of debate after admitting in May he feels at a "crossroads" in his career following another trophyless campaign with Spurs. 

Kane, who has spent the past 17 years with the north London club aside from four loan spells away, is a rumoured target for Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Keeping hold of the prolific striker will be a top priority for Nuno, who was last week confirmed as Jose Mourinho's permanent successor.

But Kane has yet to discuss his future with the ex-Wolves coach as he is eager to focus solely on helping England to Euro 2020 glory on home soil over the next week.

"Whenever a new manager comes in, I guess there's a level of excitement around the club," Kane, who has scored three goals in England's run to the semi-finals, told talkSPORT.

"Obviously, I've not been there and not had any contact with him. I'm away with England now and my full focus is on here.

"Hopefully, we've got a week left. He's a great manager and did a great job at getting Wolves playing a really good way.

"Let's get back and I'm sure we'll be in contact after the tournament."

 

Kane finished as the Premier League's top scorer last season with 23 goals, making him the third player to win the award three times after Thierry Henry (four) and Alan Shearer.

He also set up 14 goals to become only the second player in the Premier League era to top the charts for both goals and assists, the other being Andy Cole for Newcastle United in 1993-94.

Those 37 goals involvements were his most across a league campaign in his career, while his 14 assists doubled a previous high of seven in 2016-17.

Kane is under contract for another three years and new sporting director Fabio Paratici stressed on Monday that Spurs have no intention of selling the "special" player.

Asked about the comments made by Paratici, Kane said: "Of course, as a player you want to be wanted, you want to feel like you're loved, which I do.

"I haven't had the chance to talk to any of these people yet. I'm sure we'll get to know each other after the tournament, have a phone call or two once I get a week or two of holiday.

"To get praise from big people from football is great, it gives you confidence, it gives you motivation so of course it’s nice to hear."

 

While Kane has yet to speak with Nuno or Paratici, he has been in dialogue with Mourinho since the Portuguese was sacked by Tottenham in April.

"He's been texting me," Kane said of the now-Roma boss. "It's common knowledge we have a great relationship and got on really well.

"I really respect him as a manager and person. I wish him all the best at Roma. It is great to have one of the best managers in the world on your side.

"I will always respect him and hopefully be in contact with him for the rest of my career."

Dele Alli insists he does not blame Jose Mourinho for his decline in form that has left him struggling for game time at Tottenham and out of contention for England selection.

The 25-year-old, who joined Spurs back in 2015, was rarely involved in key matches prior to Mourinho being sacked in April and was linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain that would have reunited him with Mauricio Pochettino.

Alli played five times for England at World Cup 2018 but his lack of match action and reduced production meant he was not a candidate for Euro 2020 selection.

Mourinho was often questioned for his decision to rarely use Alli even as Spurs struggled to a seventh-place finish.

But the player insists he does not blame his former boss, who has clashed with multiple players, for his fall from prominence over recent years.

"The only person I blame is myself," Alli said to Goal.

"I should be performing at a level where it is difficult to not put me in the team or not play me. 

"I don’t blame anyone but myself. Working with Mourinho was a great experience and one I learned a lot from.

"It has been a tough few years but I have been working hard and analysing what I need to do to get better.

"I have been training a lot on most days of my holiday. I didn't feel I needed much rest, so it is just training the whole way through."

After a protracted search for a manager to replace Mourinho, Spurs eventually landed on ex-Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

Having been brought back as a regular starter when Ryan Mason took temporary charge towards the end of last year, Alli is relishing a fresh start.

The playmaker added: "He [Nuno] has done a great job at Wolves.

"I am looking forward to speaking to him and working with him. He is a great manager and it is exciting times.

"I want to make this year one of the best I have had. A lot of people have said I need to find the form I was in a few years ago. 

"For me, I don't even want to get to that, I want to go past that and reach my full potential to be the best player I can be.

"Everyone is looking for that extra few per cent, so you have to keep up. I am feeling good and the best I have felt in a long time."

Jose Mourinho has spoken highly of Luke Shaw's performances at Euro 2020 following his standout display in England's win over Ukraine.

The Manchester United left-back was voted as the Three Lions' man of the match in a fan poll after providing two assists in the 4-0 quarter-final victory in Rome.

Shaw appears to have cemented his place as Gareth Southgate's first-choice left-back at these finals, a fitting reward for an impressive season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at United.

The former Southampton man has enjoyed arguably the strongest 18 months of his career, a far cry from a difficult spell when Mourinho was in charge at Old Trafford, when the Portuguese would often single out Shaw for criticism.

Mourinho took aim at Shaw again after England's group-stage win over the Czech Republic, claiming his delivery from corners was "dramatically bad". That prompted a response from the player, who accused his old boss of having a "strange" personal agenda, adding: "Clearly, I'm in his head."

However, Mourinho appeared far more impressed with Shaw's display in the Italian capital on Saturday, saying the form of England's defenders means Southgate should resist any temptation to revert to a back three for the semi-final against Denmark.

 

"The question is, do England need to play with a back three like they did against Germany? My view is no," he told talkSPORT.

"The back four is really, really solid. Luke Shaw is playing better and better and better. Kyle Walker is having an amazing tournament.

"The two centre-backs are very solid and the back four with the amazing Euros that both central midfielders are doing is more than enough to control Denmark offensively. Then, you have four players to decide the creativity of the game. It is there that Gareth may have some doubts.

"Walker, [Harry] Maguire, [John] Stones and Shaw is clear. [Kalvin] Phillips and [Declan] Rice is clear. [Raheem] Sterling and [Harry] Kane is clear and there are two places that in my opinion are open and two positions where the options are different.

"[Jadon] Sancho played well, [Phil] Foden started the tournament, the same with [Mason] Mount, while [Jack] Grealish looks like he's not the favourite player of Gareth but, every minute he's on the pitch, he does well. There are lots of options for these two places.

"I believe playing at Wembley, England will be solid as always but you have to try and win the match as soon as they can and I don't believe that they need to play with a back three like they did against Germany."

New Roma head coach Jose Mourinho believes he has been a victim of his own success. 

Former Inter boss Mourinho will return to Serie A in 2021-22 after being appointed by Roma following his Tottenham sacking in April.

Mourinho, who guided Inter to an unprecedented treble in 2009-10, replaces Paulo Fonseca in Rome, where the Giallorossi have not won a league title since 2001.

The Portuguese enjoyed stunning success at the start of his managerial career, winning seven league titles and two Champions Leagues in eight seasons across spells at Porto, Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid. 

Since the start of the 2012-13 campaign, however, he has won just one league title – the Premier League with Chelsea in 2014-15. 

Indeed, Mourinho won only 51.2 per cent of his matches at Tottenham and left without lifting a single trophy.

In an extract from a new book called 'Stay Crazy and Hungry', reported in Marca, Mourinho thinks his early success contributed to a focus on winning which has not always served him well in recent years. 

"I've been a victim of myself and, if I could, it would be one of the things I wouldn't repeat," Mourinho said.

"I won, won and won and I entered into a kind of dynamic where not winning seemed like the end of the world.

"I, myself, because of my personality, made out that the training, the games and the job were all to win, win, win, and then, when I came to situations where it was very difficult to win, which for other coaches is something acceptable, in my case it was never enough.

"Not winning was a failure, but that isn't true."

Mourinho has publicly clashed with many of his players over his illustrious career, notably with Luke Shaw at Manchester United.

Mourinho managed Shaw at United from 2016 until he was sacked in 2018 and he was often critical of the left-back.

Shaw recently launched a scathing criticism of Mourinho and his "strange" personal agenda, with the England full-back insisting "clearly, I'm in his head".

The 58-year-old, however, seemingly has no regrets over his treatment of certain players. 

"I always tell the players that, with me, they'll find an honest guy," he added.

"They'll find a guy who will tell you the truth, the things you want to hear and also the things you don't.

"Some may say that I'm a bad coach, that I was a b*******, but no one can say that I wasn't serious or honest."

Gareth Southgate has a reputation for matter-of-fact sincerity in news conferences but it felt like even he was laying it on a little thick last October.

Luke Shaw was fit and a fixture in Manchester United's first team but had ticked past two years without an England call-up.

For Nations League matches against Belgium and Denmark and a friendly versus Wales, Ben Chilwell was unavailable. Southgate selected and split left wing-back duties between Kieran Trippier, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Bukayo Saka – none of whom are specialists in the position.

"The door is certainly open," he replied when asked about Shaw's seemingly dwindling prospects.

"I don't think we've ever closed the door on any player - and we certainly wouldn't on Luke.

"He's more than capable of being the best left-back in the country in my opinion."

A scroll through some of the social media responses to that assertion suggests not too many agreed.

After his starring role in the stirring 2-0 Euro 2020 win over Germany, it is hard to argue against the notion that Shaw – despite everything he has endured since becoming the most expensive teenager in world football back in June 2014 – is England's premier left-sided defender.

 

Dark days at Old Trafford

"If I'd flown back, I would probably have lost my leg because of the blood clots."

It is an incredibly stark statement. A tackle by PSV's Hector Moreno during a September 2015 Champions League match left Shaw with a horrific double leg fracture that threatened to become worse than that gruesome description.

As Shaw recuperated from surgery at St Anna Ziekenhuis hospital in Geldrop and United made plans to fly him home, doctors discovered two blood clots and scheduled an emergency operation.

"I've got two scars down the side of my leg where they had to cut me open and pull them out," said the former Southampton youngster, when discussing his ordeal while on England duty three years later.

"I'd be lying if I said I hadn't sometimes thought about stopping playing football [during rehabilitation]. It went on for a long period, doing the same things every day.

"I couldn’t do anything else because of the break. It was frustrating but I came out the other side."

When he returned to action the following season, Shaw had another draining, sapping problem - Jose Mourinho was the Manchester United manager.

After starting the season as first choice, Mourinho singled out Shaw for strong criticism after a 3-1 defeat at Watford.

Things came to an unsavoury head in April 2017, when the former Chelsea boss first questioned "the way he trains, the way he commits, the focus, the ambition" ahead of a game with Everton.

 

Then, after Shaw came off the bench and impressed to help United salvage a 1-1 draw, Mourinho claimed: "He had a good performance but it was his body with my brain. He was in front of me and I was making every decision for him."

The relationship remained strained, even as Shaw was handed a five-year contract extension in October 2018 - two months before Mourinho was sacked.

"There is no hiding that we didn't get on," Shaw told reporters last week, after Mourinho – now working as a pundit after his Tottenham tenure went the same way as his United reign – criticised his "dramatically bad" corner taking during England's 1-0 group stage win over the Czech Republic.

"I think he was a brilliant manager but, you know, the past is the past. It is time to move on. I am trying to move on but, obviously, he can't. He continuously talks about me, which I find quite strange."

The long road to Wembley

The raucous din as Shaw drove forward from midfield and fed Jack Grealish on Tuesday meant he would have been unlikely to hear instructions from the touchline or anywhere else inside Wembley. Funnily enough, his football brain was in good order.

Grealish crossed and Harry Kane stooped to head England to a 2-0 win over Germany, their first knockout stage victory over any team with a world title to their name since 1966.

Southgate's Euro 2020 side have worn their pragmatism proudly. Despite an enviable array of attacking talent – Shaw described it as "absolute madness, so frightening" this week - they go forward with cautious calculation and are yet to concede a goal.

As well as being part of that watertight defensive unit, Shaw has proved invaluable to an attacking approach that values quality over quantity. His five chances created, with four from open play, are the most of any England player, as are his 18 passes into the opposition box. An expected assists (xA) figure of 1.08 also shows him to be cumulatively laying on a better quality of chances than any of his team-mates.

Those attacking gifts were a large part of what persuaded United to pay Southampton £27million for his services, with Shaw following Wayne Bridge and Gareth Bale off the St Mary's production line as a left-back with game-changing qualities.

Initially, he appeared inhibited at Old Trafford, as then-manager Louis van Gaal questioned his fitness in an early taste of what was to come under Mourinho. Then the injury nightmare began.

It has been a long road back, but in 2020-21, United got their most sustained look at the player they hoped they were buying six years earlier.

 

Shaw's 47 appearances were his most in a single campaign and culminated in Europa League final heartache against Villarreal. It was his first United appearance in a major final, representing a personal triumph over a catalogue of fitness problems amid penalty shoot-out woe.

He claimed six assists in all competitions, the most of his career, while 90 chances created was more than double his previous best of 41 in 2018-19.

Shaw averaged 6.88 passes into the opposition box per 90 minutes, having never averaged above 3.5 before, despite some of his previous sample sizes being far smaller due to injury interrupted campaigns.

Southgate's faith repaid

If those performances made Shaw impossible to ignore last season, he was easily forgotten in March 2017.

Injuries and Mourinho's ire had combined to mean a solitary Premier League start in a five-month period, but he received a call-up from the recently installed England manager to take on Lithuania and Germany.

"Generally, we've tried to pick players who are playing regularly, and one or two have missed out because of that. Luke is probably the exception. He's a player we have a lot of belief in," said Southgate, his former England Under-21 boss.

"Having worked with him before we think he can be an important player for the future. Now would be a good time to give him that confidence boost."

The progress from that point has been far from linear. Shaw was absent when England reached the semi-finals of Russia 2018, indeed this is his first tournament since the 2014 World Cup, when everything felt possible for a prodigiously gifted teen.

 

His latest recall only came in March but, with Ukraine up in Rome on Saturday as the first in a potential three-game shot at sporting immortality, the possibilities are opening up again.

Having made his debut in March 2014, this weekend is set to mark Shaw's 14th cap. At 25, there should be plenty more to come for an easy going member of the squad, visibly a friend to everyone who fits perfectly with Southgate's team ethos.

"I remember at the [2018] World Cup seeing all these videos of the fans celebrating, going wild. And I thought: 'I want to be a part of that'," Shaw told England's YouTube channel in the aftermath of his hard-earned part in the historic win over Germany.

"I'm [feeling] brilliant, it's so good. Everything about the last day or two has been unbelievable. I've not felt this happy in a long time."

Sven-Goran Eriksson believes new Roma head coach Jose Mourinho will do well "for the first and second year" as he highlighted the Portuguese's third-season woes, while warning of the demands in the Italian capital.

Former Inter coach Mourinho will return to Serie A in 2021-22 after being appointed by Roma following his Tottenham sacking in April.

Mourinho, who guided Inter to an unprecedented treble in 2009-10, replaces Paulo Fonseca in Rome, where Roma have not won the Serie A since 2001.

Eriksson knows the Giallorossi well, having spent three years in charge – winning the 1986 Coppa Italia, and the former England boss discussed life in Rome as Mourinho prepares to lead Roma.

"It was a surprise for me… I wasn't expecting him to go to Roma," Eriksson told Stats Perform. "However, Mourinho usually does well in his first and second season. Wherever he goes. It is after that, sometimes, problems start happening. I don't know why and I'm not interested in going into it that much; however, it looks like this is the rule. First year, great; the following year, good; third year, problems.

"However, it's clear that Mourinho, as a coach, can't be questioned. He's a great coach, I know him personally, I knew him when I was coaching England. He was very easy to work with, because he was at Chelsea and had many players playing for England, the national team. And he was always available, perfect, he never complained about me taking his players, etc.

"It's a surprise and it's clear that if you win in Rome, with Lazio or with Roma, your life becomes beautiful. But if it goes bad, your life starts to become hard. Because in Rome there are three, four, five private radio stations where everyone talks about football. Four hours of Lazio, four hours of Roma, it becomes football 24 hours a day, always. However, it's beautiful. Living in Rome is the best thing in life, I think. And about Mourinho, for the first and the second year he will do well, I think."

Mourinho won only 51.2 per cent of his matches at Tottenham and left without lifting a single trophy, albeit he was sacked just days before the 2021 EFL Cup final.

His record in the English top flight before 2015-16 saw him boast a success rate of 69.4 per cent – since then it is just 48.5 per cent.

The 95 points won by Spurs during Mourinho's time at the club was the fourth highest in the Premier League. However, that was 21 fewer than former team Manchester United – Liverpool had 117 and Manchester City were out in front on 130.

Mourinho's teams are supposed to be hard to beat, yet Spurs lost 13 times in 2020-21 under him – it was the worst season he has ever had in that regard.

It has been 20 years since Roma were last crowned champions of Italy and Eriksson added: "It is not easy. If you win the Scudetto with a team that is not Juventus, Milan, Inter, it's always an incredible thing because it happens, but rarely. Very few times.

"These are the three historically great clubs that win 90-95 per cent. That is why, if the city of Rome wins a Scudetto, it's like winning a World Cup. Or even more."   

There is also a new face on the blue side of Rome, with ex-Juventus, Chelsea and Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri replacing Simone Inzaghi at Lazio as he and Mourinho vie for supremacy in the capital.

Sarri boasts a win percentage of over 60 in each of his three previous roles and will be hoping to continue Inzaghi's fine work at Lazio.

The Biancocelesti, who were sixth in 2020-21, finished lower than sixth only once under Inzaghi – though the sole campaign where they finished eighth, Lazio were able to console themselves with Coppa Italia success.

Eriksson was coach when Lazio last claimed the Scudetto in 2000 and the veteran Swede said: "Sarri represents a very positive, very beautiful kind of football.

"I don't know him personally, but he did well at Napoli. Then he went to Chelsea, and perhaps he didn't do great, but he's always playing great football. And then where did he go? At Juve, yes, clear. It's interesting, he's a great coach I think.

"Seeing his teams always playing a positive kind of football, good, organised I think... replacing Inzaghi wasn't easy, because he had become very popular and loved. He did many years at Lazio, and he did well."  

Nuno Espirito Santo ended Tottenham's search for a new head coach by signing a two-year contract with the Premier League club on Wednesday.

An experienced, seasoned operator in elite European football, Nuno will be realistic enough to acknowledge he was not Spurs' first choice when they sacked Jose Mourinho in April.

What number was he on chairman Daniel Levy's list? Honestly, it's hard to say.

Here, Stats Perform looks back over more than two months of approaches, talks and breakdowns before Levy finally filled his vacancy in the dugout.


April 19 – Mourinho sacked

Jose Mourinho chalked up 13 defeats in 2020-21, more than any other season in his coaching career, and Spurs had dropped a joint-highest 20 points from winning positions in the Premier League by the time Levy decided to cut his losses. It was a busy time for the Spurs chief, whose club's involvement in the ill-fated European Super League had also just been announced.

April 20 – Mason steps in

Aged just 29 and without any prior senior coaching experience, former Spurs midfielder Ryan Mason was appointed as interim boss until the end of the season. His second game in charge was the small matter of an EFL Cup final against Manchester City, where Tottenham were thoroughly outplayed in a 1-0 defeat. In the Premier League, Mason won four and lost two to seal qualification for the Europa Conference League.

May 18 – Kane transfer request

Tottenham issued a hasty statement urging focus on the end of the ongoing season after multiple reports that England captain Harry Kane had made clear his desire to leave, with Manchester City presumed to be among the frontrunners for his services.

May 21 – Nuno announced Wolves departure

After gaining promotion back to the Premier League for the 2018-19 season and performing strongly in the next two campaigns, Nuno's Wolves fell away last term and a departure by mutual consent – despite his contract being due to expire in 2023 – was confirmed. In 199 games in charge of Wolves, Nuno amassed a record of W95 D49 L55.

May 27 – Pochettino return?

Surely not? It couldn't happen… could it? Only 18 months after being axed by Levy, The Athletic reported Mauricio Pochettino was in talks over a sensational return, having failed to settle at Paris Saint-Germain. Ultimately, nothing materialised, but Pochettino was not the only elite coach in Tottenham's sights.

June 2 – Conte in talks

Concurrent with the club's eventually successful pursuit of Fabio Paratici to become sporting director, The Guardian reported Tottenham were negotiating with Antonio Conte. The former Juventus and Chelsea boss added another league title to his collection with Inter Milan in 2020-21.

June 4 – Conte off

Conte has built a reputation as a notoriously difficult man to work with and, ultimately, Spurs did not even get that far. "Generally, I like the challenges and I’ve accepted many of them during my career," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Even the top clubs I coached were never the favourites when I arrived. However, if there's something that doesn't convince me I prefer not to accept regardless of the money."

June 9 – Fonseca talks

Paulo Fonseca would be neither the last Portuguese nor Jorge Mendes client involved in this story, but he came closer than anyone before Nuno to becoming Tottenham head coach. Multiple reports suggested a two-year deal had been agreed in principle with the former Roma boss.

June 17 – Fonseca off… but Gattuso on?

A tumultuous day saw an apparently iron-clad deal with Fonseca to be nothing of the sort and Spurs purportedly turning their attentions towards Gennaro Gattuso – the famously combustible ex-Milan and Napoli coach, who backed out of an agreement to join Fiorentina on July 1 and leapt straight into an improbable Premier League soap opera.

June 18 – No, Gattuso off

A sustained online backlash from fans over the prospect of Gattuso becoming Tottenham boss resulted in the club pulling the plug, ESPN reported. The protests were, in part, down to the former Italy midfielder's controversial past comments on racism, women in football and same-sex marriage, and Levy was back to square one.

June 21 – Man City bid £100m for Kane

As the well-trodden path towards a new manager appeared to go cold, The Guardian claimed Premier League champions City had lodged a £100million opening offer for Kane, with part-exchange players also up for grabs. Levy was reported to be uninterested in such a proposal and each club denied any official bid had been lodged.

June 30 – Nuno appointed

One man who will certainly be involved when City travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on the opening day of the new Premier League season is Nuno. "I've spoken already about the need to revert back to our core DNA of playing attacking, entertaining football and Fabio and I believe Nuno is the man who can take our talented group of players, embrace our young players coming through and build something special," Levy said. At last, the situation was no longer vacant at Spurs.

Jose Mourinho said he is ready to embark on "another Mission: Impossible" after Roma reignited his passion for football.

Former Inter head coach Mourinho will return to Serie A in 2021-22 after being appointed by Roma following his Tottenham sacking in April.

Mourinho, who guided Inter to an unprecedented treble in 2009-10, replaces Paulo Fonseca in Rome, where Roma have not won the Serie A since 2001.

Roma – seventh in the Serie A last season – have not claimed silverware since 2008 but Mourinho is ready for the challenge following past "mistakes" in his managerial career.

"They really wanted me," Mourinho told GQ Portugal. "It was almost instantly, me leaving Tottenham in the morning and Roma calling me in the afternoon. They wanted me a lot and were objective.

"Something I had already felt throughout my years in Italy was the Italian passion when it comes to football, specifically around Roma, a club that has won no trophies in 20 years.

"These are new owners, who have a very humble approach in a way that they recognised this was a new chapter in their amazing professional lives, a chapter in which they needed help from someone with a broad experience.

"They were very honest and straightforward, and I immediately felt this passion I have for my work. So I didn't have to think too much about it, because they really touched me with their approach. I really liked it."

Mourinho won only 51.2 per cent of his matches at Tottenham and left without lifting a single trophy, albeit he was sacked just days before the 2021 EFL Cup final.

His record in the English top flight before 2015-16 saw him boast a success rate of 69.4 per cent – since then it is just 48.5 per cent.

The 95 points won by Spurs during Mourinho's time at the club was the fourth highest in the Premier League. However, that was 21 fewer than former team Manchester United – Liverpool had 117 and Manchester City were out in front on 130.

Mourinho's teams are supposed to be hard to beat, that had essentially been his unique selling point for years, yet Spurs lost 13 times in 2020-21 under him – it was the worst season he has ever had in that regard.

"I make mistakes sometimes, I haven't always chosen the right project, or I may have been misled about the path of some projects. I've made mistakes or I've been led in a dishonest way into accepting what I shouldn't have, but in the end it's all the same," Mourinho added.

"These aren't my words, they were said by someone who was much more important than me: Whoever has goals and drive, will never grow older.

"I still can't believe that I have 30 years of experience in professional football, or that I am 58 years old, because I am always renewing my motivation.

"Lately I've been having very different projects to before. I went to Manchester United in a phrase of transition, not to say decay.

"I went to Tottenham who don't have a history of success. Now I go to Roma with new owners, but I immediately felt this empathy with the owners, the director and they straight away reignited the fire and passion I have for my job.

"So here I go on another Mission: Impossible. I say impossible because people tend to look at me and in their eyes there's only one way to measure success, which is that I have to win."

"I always say that if I were to come to Portugal to coach Belenenses or Gil Vicente, if I didn't win, then I wouldn't call it a success."

Jose Mourinho revealed he "prayed" and "cried" for Christian Eriksen after the Denmark star collapsed during Saturday's Euro 2020 clash against Finland.

Inter midfielder Eriksen suffered cardiac arrest when collapsing on the pitch before being resuscitated, Denmark's team doctor Morten Boesen said.

Eriksen was given CPR by medics in the first half of the Group B match after falling to the ground with no other player around him – the fixture was originally suspended, but the former Tottenham star was later confirmed to be "awake" and the game resumed a little under two hours later, with Finland winning 1-0 in Copenhagen.

Ex-Tottenham head coach Mourinho spent time with Eriksen prior to the Denmark international's move to Inter in 2020 and the Roma-bound boss said he was reduced to tears.

"I cannot stop thinking about what happened," Mourinho told talkSPORT. "I think it's a day to celebrate, not to be sad.

"It was much more important than football but at the same time I believe that it also showed the good values of football.

"The love, the solidarity, family spirit. It was not just about his family, it was about the football family. Football bringing people together.

"I prayed yesterday, I cried yesterday, but how many millions did that around the world. I believe many because football can bring people together.

"Yesterday, for the wrong reasons football brought people together. In the end, we can celebrate Christian is alive.

"Of course, I didn't speak with him, but I spoke with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg this morning and Pierre is very positive about Christian.

"The news is good, so I think it's a moment to celebrate."

Jose Mourinho does not think Manchester United duo Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw should be in England's starting XI to begin Euro 2020.

The former United boss has been involved in media controversies around both players in the past.

Mourinho feels Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell is a better option than Shaw at left-back for England, who open their campaign against Croatia at Wembley on Sunday in a World Cup semi-final rematch.

That is despite Shaw having a fantastic season for United, which saw him recently named the Players' Player of the Year at the club.

"I wouldn't think twice, I'd go with Chilwell," Mourinho told talkSPORT.

"I know that he plays normally with Chelsea in a five, but he is intelligent, he covers the space and the diagonals inside very well, he's dangerous in attack, he's good in the air and good on set pieces.

"He can defend well the possible long build up from Croatia on the first phase. He is very calm under pressure. I like Chilwell a lot.

"[Shaw] had a good season and clearly an evolution in terms of emotion, professionalism. But Chilwell has something more, especially with the ball, the way he thinks." 

The new Roma boss also feels Rashford's only positional option is to play on the left of attack, where he would prefer to line up with Aston Villa star Jack Grealish.

Mourinho believes Grealish is an "untouchable" selection and compared his play to that of Real Madrid great Luis Figo.

United target Jadon Sancho was not in Mourinho's team, which does include Manchester City star Phil Foden and Harry Kane, who thrived under his management at Tottenham.

Rashford scored against Romania in the 1-0 friendly win last week but Mourinho said: "Harry Kane is untouchable, Jack Grealish is untouchable and the best position for Grealish is coming in from the left.

"For me, Marcus Rashford can only play there. When he plays on the right, he is completely lost.

"He is dynamic but on the right totally broken. He is very good on the left attacking spaces. But Grealish, for me, is tremendous.

"What he creates and his personality – 'give me the ball' – he reminds me a little bit of Luis Figo.

"I don't like making comparisons, especially with a Golden Ball winner, but Grealish reminds me of my Figo.

"Figo, I had him in different periods in my career but I had him in his last season as a player at Inter Milan and even in his last season he was like, 'Give me the ball and I will resolve the problems for you'.

"The way Grealish gets the ball and attacks people, gets fouls, gets penalties, he is very powerful, I like him very much.

"So I would say Grealish on the left, Mason Mount as the number 10 and because I like the wingers to come inside, I would play Phil Foden on the right."

One United player who would be in Mourinho's starting team, though, is goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who he would start over Jordan Pickford.

"I am a Henderson fan," said Mourinho. "When I was at United he was a kid, and I tell this story because it shows his nature.

"He came to my office asking for a loan, he went to Shrewsbury, but this kid said to me then, 'When I come back, I want to be number one'.

"We looked at each other because we had [David] de Gea and this kid never played one game, but he has had incredible development.

"The loans were all very successful. The way United organised them I think United did amazing for him and he did amazing for himself.

"He has this arrogance in him, this trust and belief which I think an England goalkeeper needs."

Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips were Mourinho's two central midfielders.

Mourinho, though, would like to see Jude Bellingham play alongside Rice as the tournament progresses, describing the Borussia Dortmund prospect as "perfect" for such a role.

Kyle Walker, Tyrone Mings and John Stones made up the rest of his back four alongisde Chilwell.

England, who are in Group D, also face Scotland on June 18 and the Czech Republic on June 22.

Cristiano Ronaldo is still an elite talent who has no plans to slow down, according to new Roma boss Jose Mourinho.

Juventus forward Ronaldo has been linked with Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain after his side failed to retain their Serie A title and struggled in the Champions League last season.

The 36-year-old himself, though, had another productive campaign, topping the Serie A goalscoring charts with 29 goals and finishing with 36 in all competitions.

Mourinho managed Ronaldo at Real Madrid and is now set to face him with Roma, unless his former player does indeed make a move.

"He should leave Italy now and leave me in peace!" Mourinho joked in an interview with talkSPORT.

"Everybody says, and I say the same, he is not 25 any more. He is 36 and he doesn't score 50 goals, but how many did he score? The record is [still] incredible, the numbers speak by themselves."

Ronaldo is preparing to play a part in Euro 2020 with Portugal as the country bid to retain their continental title which was won five years ago.

He will be just months from his 38th birthday by the time of the next World Cup in Qatar and Mourinho thinks that event is among many factors which have motivated the veteran to remain at the highest level.

Asked what drove Ronaldo on, Mourinho said: "I think records and he wants to not just play in this Euros but the World Cup.

"He is a legend, one of the big names that stays forever in football history, but the guy motivates himself with numbers and new things.

"He wants to win the gold ball X times, the golden boot X times, he wants to get the record from the Iran player for goals for an international team."

Mourinho does not think Ronaldo gets particularly angry by negative comparisons to Lionel Messi and feels he uses any criticism as fuel.

"I think critics motivate him," said Mourinho. "I think he feels, 'If people criticise me, it's because of who I am, I did what I did and I'll still try to do it'.

"He still gets that extra motivation. As an opponent, you should be quiet and not say a wrong word about him because that will always be motivation for him.

"He is the player everyone thinks he is and he is mentally very, very strong."

Ronaldo and Portugal start their Euros campaign against Hungary on Tuesday, with a strong start essential given France and Germany are also in Group F. 

But Portugal have failed to win their first game in the last five major tournaments, their last success in an opener coming at Euro 2008 against Turkey.

Ronaldo holds the Euros tournament record for most games (21), and most goals (9, joint with Michel Platini).

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has revealed how he has fallen in love with Roma after extending his contract with the Serie A club, meaning he will once again work with Jose Mourinho.

Having already spent a season on loan at the Giallorossi, Mkhitaryan joined on a permanent basis a year ago and was a regular during the 2020-21 campaign under Paulo Fonseca.

The Armenia international scored 15 goals and provided 11 assists as he made 46 appearances in all competitions, including a run to the Europa League semi-finals that came to an emphatic halt against one of his former teams in Manchester United.

His new deal will see the 32-year-old stay for a further season after embracing life in Rome.

"Over the last two years at Roma I've fallen in love, both with the club and the city, thanks in large part to the incredible passion of the fans," Mkhitaryan said.

"The club's ambitions are very high and I am proud to have the chance to play my part as we take on all the challenges that await us next season. Daje Roma!"

However, Mkhitaryan will no longer be working with Fonseca, the Portuguese coach having been replaced by compatriot Mourinho at the Stadio Olimpico.

Mourinho was in charge at United when the Premier League side signed Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund in July 2016.

The midfielder played in 41 games during his first campaign at Old Trafford but did not make it through the next year. Criticised by Mourinho for his lack of consistency, he joined Arsenal in January 2018 as part of the deal that saw Alexis Sanchez move in the opposite direction.

Now, though, Mkhitaryan and Mourinho are reunited at Roma, who will be playing in the Europa Conference League after finishing seventh in Serie A.

Granit Xhaka is "proud" to hear of interest from new Roma coach Jose Mourinho, but the Arsenal midfielder insists his focus is solely on Euro 2020.

Former Tottenham manager Mourinho was appointed as Paulo Fonseca's replacement at Roma shortly after he was dismissed by Spurs in April, with his contract starting ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

Yet speculation is already rife that Xhaka, Arsenal's former club captain, is one of Mourinho's priority transfer targets.

Xhaka has spent five seasons at Arsenal since joining from Bundesliga club Borussia Monchengladbach, though the Switzerland international has not always been a popular figure with the club's fanbase.

Nevertheless, he has featured consistently in the first team under Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta, and the 28-year-old – who played more minutes in all competitions last season than any other Arsenal outfield player – still has two years left to run on his contract.

Xhaka is already with the Switzerland squad as they prepare for Euro 2020, and pressed on his future, he told Swiss-German publication Blick: "Of course I read the rumours too. But now I'm one hundred per cent focused on the national team. 

"That's more important than Arsenal or rumours right now. I still have a two-year contract in London, and at Arsenal they know what they have got in me. When the time comes and we can, and may have to talk about a transfer, I'll be there."

Asked to comment on what Mourinho's reported interest means to him, Xhaka added: "Honestly, I didn't hear what Mourinho said, but that makes you proud. 

"Everyone knows Mourinho, knows what he has achieved. Mourinho knows how to win titles. You can now see what work I have done over the past few years."

WHAT COULD XHAKA BRING TO ROMA?

Xhaka scored one goal in 2020-21, providing two assists and creating 20 chances in total, with all of those opportunities coming in open play.

Roma would also benefit from Xhaka's consistent availability. Of Arsenal midfielders, only Bukayo Saka (46) made more appearances than Xhaka in all competitions.

Bryan Cristante (48), Lorenzo Pellegrini, Gonzalo Villar (both 47) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (46) ranked ahead of Xhaka for appearances in terms of Roma midfielders, but the Swiss started more games than any of them (42).

Xhaka's passing accuracy of 89.89 per cent ranks him third out of Roma and Arsenal midfielders to play at least 10 times across all competitions, with only Mohamed Elneny (92.08) and Martin Odegaard (90.38) bettering his success rate.

It is Xhaka's defensive work that perhaps goes under the radar, especially with his tendency to lunge in recklessly, a trait that has seen him receive three straight red cards in his Arsenal career, but he is far clear in the recoveries rankings, having regained possession 281 times in 2020-21, with Cristante (235) Roma's best player in that regard.

Only Mkhitaryan (75) went in for more tackles than Xhaka (74), though his tackle success rate was down at 50 per cent, lower than 10 other Arsenal or Roma midfielders who have played at least 10 times last term.

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