Jose Mourinho is under huge pressure to deliver top-level European football, with failure set to cost the Tottenham boss his job..
And while Mourinho’s position is under greater internal scrutiny following Thursday’s disastrous Europa League exit to Dinamo Zagreb, there are also emerging concerns that the Portuguese is fighting to remedy a fractured dressing room amid fears of disharmony within the squad.
The process of identifying potential replacements for Mourinho has already begun with Red Bull Leipzig boss Julian Naglesmann viewed by many behind the scenes as the perfect candidate to takeover if a decision is made to part with the current head coach.
The highly-rated German coach could be obtainable for as less as £6million a year – a fraction of Mourinho’s current salary which is said to be worth as much as £13million.
The club’s financial position is emerging as a key factor in deciding the direction the club heads ahead of next season.
Mourinho still has two years left on his current deal, meaning he is entitled to a substantial compensation package if chairman Daniel Levy decides act.
There is an obvious reluctance to fork out for another sacked manager, particularly in Mourinho’s case given the amount any compensation deal would cost.
Sportsmail understands Spurs would look to put Mourinho on gardening leave if they decide to pull the trigger, meaning they could continue to pay him monthly rather than fork out one lump sum.
The failure to qualify for European football next season will represent an even greater financial hit, a scenario the club are desperate to avoid.
Last season’s failure to qualify for the Champions League arrived as a substantial blow to their income, as has the fact they’ve had no match-day revenue since the pandemic struck last year.
Regaining their Champions League status was viewed as the absolute priority given the financial boost it would provide.
Tottenham are currently six points adrift of fourth placed Chelsea and have a game in hand – so making the top-four isn’t inconceivable.
Their embarrassing loss to Dinamo – a result that has mounted huge pressure on Mourinho – means Tottenham can only qualify for the Champions League by finishing in the top four.
UEFA are launching a third competition next season – the European Conference League – but Tottenham are desperate to avoid any involvement.
Spurs face Manchester City in the final of the Carabao Cup next month, where victory will guarantee them a place in UEFA’s new tournament.
But while winning the club’s first trophy since 2008 remains a big aim for Tottenham, sources claim it is unlikely to have a bearing on whether Mourinho is head coach next season.
The bulk of the emphasis as to whether the club decide change is necessary will be placed on how Tottenham finish their Premier League campaign.
Intriguingly, sources are claiming that it is now a matter of ‘when, not if’ Mourinho leaves ahead of the 2021/22 campaign and that only a phenomenal end to the season can save him.
Mourinho would stand a good chance of a second full season in charge if Spurs make the top four.
Levy has been supportive of Mourinho and is understood to have not given up hope that the Portuguese can spark a turnaround.
But the manner of Thursday’s loss will certainly trigger alarm bells. The club would prefer to wait until the summer to make a definitive season over Mourinho’s future, but an implosion of their season could accelerate matters.
Sources claim the squad is lacking unity borne out of several factors behind the scenes.
While a large number of players remain supportive of Mourinho, others do not buy into his pragmatic approach. Indeed, there was disappointment at the way the head coach set-up in last weekend’s loss to Arsenal and Thursday’s humiliation in Europe, with many believing their approach was too negative.
There are also misgivings within the squad about coaching methods, while the mood with the camp is also said to be a problem.
Much will now depend on whether Mourinho is able to galvanise his squad to mount a serious challenge for the top-four, but with doubts emerging over whether the dressing room remain with him that could be easier said than done.