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Ambitious Mourinho looks to make his mark at Tottenham

LONDON (Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho described himself as ‘The Humble One’ when he took over the reins from fan-favourite Mauricio Pochettino almost a year ago but there is nothing modest about his ambitions for the north London club.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur - Selhurst Park, London, Britain - July 26, 2020 Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho and staff celebrate after the match, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pool via REUTERS/Will Oliver/Files

The 57-year-old Portuguese coach has been brought to Spurs by chairman Daniel Levy to win silverware, something Pochettino failed to do in 5-1/2 years in charge despite finishing in the Premier League’s top four in four consecutive seasons.

Mourinho is a serial winner -- he has claimed 20 trophies including the Champions League twice plus the Europa League and UEFA Cup - and will be desperate to prove he is not past his best after being sacked by Chelsea and Manchester United.

The target for Spurs this year will be to regain a place in the top four, which brings Champions League qualification, and to bring some silverware to a club which last won a trophy in 2008 when they beat Chelsea to lift the League Cup.

The problem is that many of Tottenham’s Premier League rivals have splashed out in the transfer market to strengthen their squads with high quality players.

Spurs overachieved under Argentine Pochettino with a modest transfer budget as they defied the odds to reach the 2019 Champions League final but they struggled to recover from their defeat by Liverpool and several key players left the club.

They have so far brought in Denmark midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Southampton, Ireland right back Matt Doherty from Wolverhampton Wanderers and ex-England goalkeeper Joe Hart on a free transfer as a back up to France international Hugo Lloris.

However, they have not replaced the creativity lost when playmaker Christian Eriksen moved to Inter Milan and they will miss the defensive solidity provided by Jan Vertonghen who has joined Benfica. They also need a back up striker to Harry Kane.

Having been used to dining at the continent’s top table, the club must also now negotiate a tricky Europa League campaign, with the qualifying rounds clashing with the League Cup and drawing on playing resources required for the Premier League.

Mourinho was seen as a mixed blessing by the Spurs fans who had to accept his Chelsea connections while acknowledging his track record of success. He took over when Tottenham were 14th before steering them to an acceptable sixth-place finish.

But the real transition from Pochettino’s team starts now and Mourinho will have to use all of his managerial powers to at least deliver a trophy if not a return to the top four and a place back amongst Europe’s elite which the supporters crave.

Writing by Ken Ferris; Editing by Toby Davis