Jose Mourinho returned to his ‘natural habitat’ on Saturday and declared ‘happiness’ had returned to Tottenham as they claimed their first away win in the Premier League for 10 months.
Goals from Heung-Min Son, Lucas Moura and Harry Kane at West Ham before a late wobble saw Mourinho win in his first fixture since replacing Mauricio Pochettino.
The victory catapulted Tottenham from 14th to the cusp of the top five and prompted Mourinho to describe the emotional wrench of the 11 months he spent out of management following his sacking by Manchester United.
He said: ‘To confess, the most difficult moments for me was in my mind this summer, when I didn’t have a pre-season and was looking at other managers, clubs, teams doing pre-season. The most weird feeling was going to stadia and I was asking myself what I was doing here: here in the box, or the Sky television studios. Today is where I belong. My natural habitat.’
In referencing Tottenham’s long wait for an away win, he said: ‘It was very, very important. Months without music in the away dressing room. Without a smile, without happiness, and they did it. I’m very happy with them.
‘They can do what they want with the music. When you go away, the music after the game I like. A victory is something that you have to value. It’s hard to win matches. You work hard in these two days. The boys worked hard today. It’s something you have to value.
‘You can’t just say, “Okay, we won”. In the same way if you lose you can’t be in a nightclub with your friends in a few hours. When you win you have to feel it. The music was loud. I don’t care what music it is. I just like the feeling the boys are happy.’
He added: ‘I think if somebody didn’t watch the game and just knew the result, they’d think it was very difficult for us to win. But the feeling is we were closer to 4-0 than West Ham were to 3-1. But this is the Premier League.
‘And I think also my players paid the price of a very, very difficult week. A week where they arrived from their national teams, some of them arrived from difficult matches, and there was a changed manager, a new guy arrives, new training sessions and new ideas, the emotional things that surround that.
‘I don’t think it’s ever easy for a football player to work with a coaching staff one day and, the next, other people are there. It is difficult to process. Physically, the team had a break. Probably also they were a little bit scared of that mental barrier of the bad results away. So the last 20-25 minutes were not easy. But we played very, very well for about an hour. Really well. I’m really happy for the boys.’
Dele Alli was a notable performer, having contributed to each of the first two goals after struggles across the past year.
Mourinho said: ‘Dele was like the team: he was brilliant for 60-65 minutes, and then he paid also the price and went a little bit down. But I think he was the old Dele Alli. The Dele Alli of a couple of years ago, who impressed not just England but a lot.
‘He did exactly what I wanted him to do after two days of work. I’d tried to make it clear to him exactly the places I wanted him to play, offensively and defensively. He is an intelligent footballer and I am pleased with his performance.’
The defeat leaves Manuel Pellegrini in a desperately vulnerable position with West Ham having taken two points from seven games.
He said: ‘There is frustration because we did not win a home game, especially because it is the derby against Tottenham. It’s a victory we wanted to have for our fans, to return to a winning performance, but we couldn’t. The moment we have the first winning result, the pressure will be gone.’ ends