Jose Mourinho doesn’t deserve to be judged on this season, says former Tottenham star Dimitar Berbatov.
He reckons Mourinho has to be given a lot more time to work with the players inherited from Mauricio Pochettino and at least one transfer window to start moulding his Spurs squad into the shape he wants.
The 57-year-old has faced a barrage of heavy criticism in recent weeks after Spurs suffered a real dip in form.
Tottenham started life reasonably well under the Portuguese after he replaced the popular Pochettino in November, with six victories in nine games in all competitions.
But since the end of December they have had only five wins, with four losses and two draws in the last six games.
That run saw them knocked out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage by RB Leipzig and the FA Cup on penalties to Premier League strugglers Norwich.
There have been mitigating factors, of course, with Harry Kane injured for much of that period.
Kane ruptured a tendon in his left hamstring during a 1-0 defeat to Southampton on New Year’s Day.
And Heung-min Son, the man who has stepped up to the plate for Spurs in recent seasons when Kane has suffered lay-offs, has also been missing after fracturing his right arm against Aston Villa last month.
That has not been enough to stop the flak aimed at Mourinho, though, with some fans and pundits claiming he is now yesterday’s man.
Berbatov thinks that it is unfair and doesn’t want to see a rush to judge Mourinho’s time in north London, given the team had gone off the boil under his predecessor.
The Bulgarian said: “Things had gone sour under Mauricio Pochettino, anybody could see that, and I thought Jose Mourinho was a good choice to replace him.
“Tottenham haven’t gone backwards. Any head coach deserves a full season to bring in his players and implement his philosophy.
“Spurs are going through a difficult period, but Mourinho should be judged on next season at the club.”
Rather than lay the blame for Spurs’ woes at Mourinho’s feet, Berbatov questions the role of his squad in the club’s downturn in form.
He added: “Players take time to adjust to a new manager, especially when it’s one with a different style to his predecessor.
“Occasionally, I get the feeling that some players are not playing for the team, and that they are trying to take the glory for themselves. That can ruin scoring chances.
“When he’s back, Spurs should try to release Son quicker on the counter-attack.
“These small details make all the difference in football.”
Obviously, there is much uncertainty in the game during the enforced hiatus and what to do about the summer transfer window remains to be seen.
Whatever happens, Berbatov is adamant Mourinho should be pushing chairman Daniel Levy to release some funds in the summer to begin the rebuild.
Berbatov, a Betfair brand ambassador, added: “They have quality throughout the squad, and the players they have should do better.
“Mourinho has criticised Tanguy Ndombele, but he’s young and can still succeed.
“Steven Bergwijn started well and looks an exciting prospect. But I certainly expect Mourinho to spend.”