Jose Mourinho has denied any suggestions he is jealous of Liverpool and Manchester City’s squad depth despite indicating that the Tottenham job might be the toughest he’s faced since managing Porto.
While City and league leaders Liverpool have an embarrassment of riches in their squad, injuries to key players at Spurs have left Mourinho having to pick players who are going to be leaving the club – namely Christian Eriksen, whom the Spurs boss made an honest admission over on Monday.
Mourinho has been a dealt a harsh hand with long-term injuries to Harry Kane, who could be out until next season, Hugo Lloris, Ben Davies and Moussa Sissoko, while record signing Tanguy Ndombele has often had niggles.
Mourinho is accepting of the situation and knows Spurs have a different profile.
“Come on, it is what it is,” he said. “We cannot have a squad like some other teams. It’s not us.
“Yesterday, I was watching Man City and I looked to the bench – (Raheem) Sterling, Bernardo Silva, (Ilkay) Gundogan, (Nicolas) Otamendi. You know?
“Liverpool, you see the team, you see the bench. And they have injured (Joel) Matip, (Dejan) Lovren, (Naby) Keita, Fabinho.
“I’m not jealous, I have an amazing job, but they are different jobs. This is a different club.”
Four years ago under Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs ran both Leicester and Chelsea close to the Premier League title, with a young, hungry side looking to make their mark on English football.
Things have gone south since then as the squad has been allowed to age and – up until this season – never refreshed and they have not reached those heights since.
And Mourinho knows he is in a transitional phase.
“Do you want to compare Eriksen’s situation four years ago then Eriksen’s situation now?” he said.
“It’s easy to compare. Four years ago he had four years of contract and now he has six months of contract.
“The situation is very, very, very difficult. Players are older four years. Players, in this case and some other cases, they don’t have four years of contract, they have six months of contract.
“Some players left, some players come.
“The players that come – Giovani (Lo Celso), (Ryan) Sessegnon, Ndombele – you see the young boy is in a process of developing and we are giving him time to do that.
“Giovani comes from a completely different football culture. Played in Spain, Argentina, played in Spain, played in France, now he comes again.
“You can feel that he is coming. Ndombele not even coming. Injured and with lots of problems, so you cannot compare what was four years ago in the cycle of four years to what it is now.
“So we have to work.”
When he took over from Pochettino in November, it was just the second time in a long managerial career where Mourinho began a job mid-season.
The first time was in Porto, way back in 2001.
“It is the second time I get a team mid-season, it’s just the second time for me,” Mourinho added. “The first time was also not easy because it was the end of a team, the end of an era.
“It was an era without titles. Porto was not winning but it was the end of – I don’t want to say of a generation but it was the end of a team in the end of a season.
“Twelve players out, 12 players in, start everything from the beginning.
“Forget the good things of the past, forget the bad things of the past and let’s build from new.
“That is my experience in Porto coming in the middle of the season. You could say it is similar.”