Being a Spurs fan has rarely been easy over the years, but this is by some distance the longest trophy drought the club has endured since the Second World War. For a club of Tottenham’s size and considerable financial power, 13 years is far too long a wait for silverware.
Despite the vast improvement to the playing squad and upturn in results brought to the club by Mauricio Pochettino, the Argentine manager was never able to get Tottenham over the hump.
With Pochettino sacked after months of poor performances following the heartbreaking Champions League final defeat to Liverpool in June 2019, Jose Mourinho was hired with the sole aim of guiding Tottenham to a first trophy since the League Cup in 2008.
The Portuguese coach is now one match away from achieving that objective after goals from Moussa Sissoko and Son Heung-Min gave Spurs a 2-0 win over Championship side Brentford in Tuesday’s League Cup semifinal.
Many clubs, managers and supporters have turned their noses up at the League Cup in its many guises over the years — currently called the Carabao Cup due to sponsorship — but it’s a competition Mourinho has always taken seriously.
No manager has won this trophy on more occasions and Mourinho would surpass the record of four League Cup wins he currently holds with Sir Alex Ferguson and Brian Clough with a victory against either Manchester City or Manchester United.
“I came to England in 2004 and I remember in that period I had to learn the meaning of the cups here and took it seriously,” Mourinho told reporters after the game.
“I think if there is any secret, it is to take it seriously. It’s to respect what English football is, what English clubs are, what English lower divisions are and try not to be surprised in any one of the games with teams with smaller quality and when you have a big game like we had with Chelsea [in round four], go seriously and with ambitions. Apart from that, there is no other secret.”
“What I sense in the team is desire. I’m not saying winning mentality, I’m not saying that we are this or that, I just say that we are honest people. The guys since the first game against Chelsea, the second game against Stoke, the guys took it seriously and that’s what I hope to do again on Sunday in Crosby against Marine [in the FA Cup].”
With the League Cup final usually taking place in February, Mourinho has previously mentioned the boost an early cup victory can have for the remainder of the season — though this year, authorities have moved the final back to April in the hope that fans might be able to attend following the current second wave of Covid-19 cases in England.
However, the high of reaching a major final will no doubt still be felt within the squad and Mourinho was keen to emphasize this is a desirable trophy to win.
“If you see the winners, you realize that the big clubs want to win it,” he said. “Who was the last winner apart from the normal top six? Swansea [in 2013]? I don’t know because I’m not very good with stats, but I remember Man City winning a lot of times, I remember Chelsea winning a lot of times, I remember United winning a few times.”
“I remember Liverpool in finals, I don’t know if they won it recently, Arsenal. So the big clubs, they care about it, no doubt and the final says a lot: Tottenham against Manchester United or Tottenham against Manchester City.”
While victory against either of those clubs in April’s final would undoubtedly mean Tottenham has finally turned the corner, it would by no means be the extent of Mourinho’s ambitions in north London.