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All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur - The José Mourinho show is blockbuster entertainment
Whatever your views on José Mourinho and Tottenham Hotspur, this Amazon Prime Video series is a revealing look at life inside a Premier League football club in 2020.
The first 25-minutes of All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur offers a brief glimpse of what could have been a very different TV series.
Mauricio Pochettino is still the Spurs manager but after the high of reaching the Champions League final in 2019, the Argentinian and his players are struggling to pick themselves up and push onwards in a new season.
Possibly with a bit of luck, and a couple of different results, Pochettino might have stayed in the job for the whole season and this series of All or Nothing would have looked very different.
Instead, from the moment we see Christian Erikson’s wide-eyed look of shock as his appointment is revealed, this documentary becomes the José Mourinho show.
It has the backdrop of an epic new 62,000-seater stadium, brief glimpses into the workings of chairman Daniel Levy and surprisingly touching insights into star players including Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min. However, they all play second fiddle to the Special One from Portugal.
Whether you consider Mourinho a serial winner and one of the greatest managers in world football or someone whose best days are behind him and who has a bad attitude, this documentary is hugely engaging, unpredictable and a look at the man behind the bravado.
The first three episodes are released on August 31st, just ahead of the new Premier League season, and here are three reasons All or Nothing is a must-see series…
Mourinho, Mourinho and Mourinho
He’s never been shy of coming forward about his own achievements and his departures from clubs is usually explosive, but All or Nothing finally gives sports fans a glimpse of what really goes on when José Mourinho is in charge of a football club.
More considered, sensitive and sharp-witted than many fans will expect, the series shines some light on the method behind the more provocative moves he makes.
The showman that meets the press is a very different character from the leader in the dressing room, the father figure in the office and the fun friend on the training ground.
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Whether Mourinho’s methods are old hat or visionary will ultimately be judged on the results in coming seasons for Spurs.
But regardless of their effectiveness, his man-management style is far removed from the bolshy and brooding figure seen in post-match interviews.
He’s always been a box office entertainer for his pitchside antics and he remains as mesmerising on camera behind-the-scenes.
Mourinho is undoubtedly aware of the camera at times, but that doesn’t change the fact he’s engrossing viewing.
Whether he’s got his arm around a player or ranting at half-time with an expletive-filled speech, he’s always the star of the series.
The intimate manager and player interviews
In the opening episodes, the unquestionable highlights are the one-on-one interviews between the new manager and his players.
Mourinho teases Harry Kane with the possibility of transforming from Spurs’ best player into a global megastar and chats with Eric Dier in Portuguese about his time on the bench under the previous management.
But it’s his conversation with Dele Alli which best showcases Mourinho’s style of coaching. We see him teasing and joking with Alli early on in the documentary about his lack of effort in training, but when back in the office, he drops the banter merchant act to question Alli’s temperament and ambition.
He makes no judgement on Alli’s dips in form, but lays everything out for the extremely talented England star – he could either become a great player, or become a player that never quite did himself justice.
Mourinho reveals earlier in the series that Sir Alex Ferguson’s one piece of advice for him at Manchester United was to sign Alli and he clearly fancies moulding the attacker into a formidable gamechanger for the team.
He doesn’t patronise Alli (“I don’t want to be like a father, or an uncle”) and doesn’t ask him to explain why his form dropped last season. But in one personal conversation, Mourinho challenges the player, sets down his own expectations for him, shows him that he’s a fan and leaves Alli with the thought of how he wants to look back at his career when it’s over.
Talking about the scene at the series premiere, Alli said: “When someone like Mourinho speaks, you listen, every time.
“It was our first real conversation in the office. And at the time you don’t really think about [the cameras], it’s like they’re not really there.
“As a player, in that situation with such a big manager coming in, you’re waiting for that first conversation.
“You realise and get a little taste of what he thinks of you. Sometimes it can be quite difficult to take, but it’s not a negative conversation. It’s something that stays with you. I can remember the whole conversation. It gives you something to keep working towards.”
It’s a season like no other
2019-2020 was a rollercoaster season for Spurs from the start. Unable to rediscover the momentum of their Champions League run, the club found themselves crashing down the Premier League table, struggling with injuries and several players wrangling over contracts.
After five years of smooth progress with Pochettino, the club threw in a Mourinho grenade and challenged the players to take the leap from rising stars and challengers to winners.
And all of that came before Covid.
“I missed them. The players. More than anything,” said Mourinho, speaking about life in lockdown at the premiere of the series.
“I had this feeling that they were a good bunch of guys. And in a long-career like I have, you don’t find exactly that all the time and it can be hard to build that relationship. With these guys it’s much easier.
“I missed them. And then I missed my football. What kept us together was missing each other and missing the football.”
When we look back at the events of 2020, this series will be a fascinating document of how the global pandemic impacted individuals and businesses in real time. The uncertainty, the fear, the isolation and loneliness.
The filmmakers 72 Film might not have enjoyed the problems posed by social distanced documentary-making, but the crisis brings a whole new layer to the series that takes the show beyond an standard sporting documentary.
Watch All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur from August 31st on Amazon Prime Video, with new episodes available each Monday.