Jose Mourinho delivered Tottenham’s first away win in the Premier League since January in his first game in charge with a 3-2 victory at West Ham that catapulted Spurs up to sixth.
Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and Harry Kane scored the goals as Mourinho made an instant impact after replacing the sacked Mauricio Pochettino on Wednesday.
“It was very, very important. Eleven months without music in the away dressing room, without a smile, without happiness and they did it,” said Mourinho on ending Tottenham’s drought on the road.
The Portuguese had spent 11 months out of the game since being sacked by Manchester United last December but was delighted to be back on the touchline after a brief stint as a television pundit.
“That’s where I belong, that is my natural habitat,” said Mourinho. “I just love it. When things go in your direction, winning is the best feeling.”
A much-needed three points will help endear Mourinho to a skeptical Spurs support who were sad to see Pochettino’s five-and-a-half year spell in charge of the club end just six months after leading the club to a first ever Champions League final.
Mourinho named a front four of Dele Alli with Son, Moura and Kane which could have produced a far more comprehensive scoreline.
“If somebody didn’t watch the game and just knows the result, they will think it was very, very difficult for us to win,” said Mourinho.
“But I think the feeling was we were closer to the 4-0 than West Ham to the 3-1, but this is the Premier League.
“Their first goal changed things a little bit. I think also my players paid the price of a very, very difficult week.”
Kane had smashed the ball past beleaguered West Ham goalkeeper Roberto after just three minutes from Alli’s pass but was denied by the offside flag.
Roberto could have done better when Tottenham did open the scoring nine minutes before half-time when another through ball from Alli found Son, whose shot had too much power for the hapless ‘keeper.
However, the Spaniard was blameless for Spurs’ second seven minutes later when a lovely flick from Alli sent Son racing down the left and his inch-perfect cross was met by Moura at the back post.
– Mourinho’s despair –
The same two players should have combined for the visitors’ third just two minutes into the second half when Son sent Moura clean through on goal, but the Brazilian dragged his shot wide to the despair of Mourinho, who sank to his knees on the touchline.
Tottenham’s celebrations were only put on hold for another two minutes as Serge Aurier’s cross picked out Kane to head home and become the third highest goalscorer in Spurs’ history with 175.
The introduction of Michail Antonio at half-time offered West Ham far more going forward and he pulled a goal back for the hosts 17 minutes from time.
Angelo Ogbonna then scored West Ham’s second six minutes into stoppage time but it was too little, too late as the Hammers’ winless run stretched to eight games.
West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini now waits to see if he faces a similar fate to Pochettino.
The Hammers were expected to challenge for European qualification in the Chilean’s second season but instead are 16th and in danger of falling even closer towards the relegation zone by the end of the weekend.
“Both of us (the players and the manager) have the responsibility to play well, to win games,” said Pellegrini.
“Of course these are not the results we expected, especially losing so many points here at home.”