Football

Inability to evolve cost Jose Mourinho his job: Lineker

But Rooney questions wisdom of sacking Mourinho ahead of cup final

Ex-Tottenham Hotspur and England striker Gary Lineker said Jose Mourinho's inability to evolve led to his former club sacking the two-time Champions League-winning manager.

The decision by Spurs' hierarchy was announced yesterday, just days before the club's League Cup final against Manchester City on Sunday, and with the news of a breakaway European Super League - of which Spurs are a part of - dominating the headlines.

Spurs' head of player development Ryan Mason, a former academy product, will take first-team training this week and is set to helm the side for the cup final at Wembley.

Mourinho, 58, was dismissed after just 17 months in charge, the first time he has not delivered silverware at a club since his days as a fledgling coach at Uniao de Leiria in 2002.

Lineker said on the BBC: "It's an interesting time, a good day to hide bad news.

"He has struggled at Tottenham, it didn't look a great fit and he has found it difficult.

"He was hugely successful in the early days. The game has evolved tactically and I don't think he has evolved with it.

"Was he fired in case they won the Carabao Cup? He has always been a big character but struggled, as he did at Manchester United."

Spurs look set for another season without Champions League football. They sit seventh in the English Premier League, five points behind fourth-placed West Ham United, and suffered a shock Europa League last-16 exit against Dinamo Zagreb.

They exited the FA Cup in the fifth round, losing 5-4 to Everton after extra-time.

Derby County manager Wayne Rooney, who played under Mourinho at United, questioned the timing of his sacking, just days before Spurs get their chance to win their first trophy since 2008.

Said United and England's all-time top scorer: "It's crazy doing it before a cup final. Strange timing.

"They could have waited. He is a fantastic manager and one of the best the game has seen...

"Some players will get comfort, others will be upset by the decision. A lot of times you get a good reaction."

Like Rooney, ex-Liverpool captain and manager Graeme Souness believes, despite his diminishing return in terms of silverware in recent years, Mourinho - who won league titles in England, Italy, Spain and Portugal - will remain in demand.

He said on Sky Sports: "He's a big name, a big manager.

"He will be welcomed by other big clubs.

"He's got a track record that is right up there with the very best, he's got a way of working which isn't so attractive to a lot of people, but he gets the job done."

The Sun reported that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy made the decision to dispense with Mourinho, whose severance package is reportedly worth £20 million (S$37.2m), after several players complained to him about the Portuguese's tactics and methods.

The tabloid claimed these players felt they had to speak up after Mourinho blamed them for the Europa League exit and their faltering EPL top-four challenge.

They also felt that his attritional style had left the squad with too many unhappy players.

The Sun reported that the group of players who sought out Levy included captain Hugo Lloris and vice-captain Harry Kane.

Both had publicly defended Mourinho and, after the news of the sacking broke, Kane tweeted: "Thank you for everything Boss. A pleasure to have worked together. I wish you all the best for your next chapter."

Football