Jose Mourinho made a winning start to life as Tottenham manager as his new team beat West Ham 3-2 on Saturday for its first away victory in the Premier League in more than 10 months.
Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and Harry Kane scored in a 13-minute span around halftime at the Olympic Stadium, with Tottenham having a spark to its play rarely seen in the final months of Mauricio Pochettino’s reign.
That ended on Tuesday, allowing for the return of Mourinho to the Premier League nearly a year after he was fired by Manchester United. He had an instant impact.
“Doesn’t matter how, the three points were fundamental for us,” Mourinho said. “The boys are happy and that’s what I wanted. I wanted them back to happiness.”
The most obvious effect was the improvement of Dele Alli, who shone in the No. 10 role behind Kane and fed Son with a penetrative pass for the opening goal in the 36th minute.
Another deft piece of play by Alli - this time he flicked the ball to Son while on the ground near the touchline - led to the South Korea forward crossing for Moura to poke home a close-range finish in the 43rd.
Kane added the third goal four minutes into the second half when he headed in a right-wing cross by Serge Aurier.
“I like very, very much the first 60 minutes,” said Mourinho, who added that fatigue after the international break was a factor in Tottenham allowing West Ham a way back into the game.
West Ham pulled goals back through substitute Michail Antonio in the 73rd and Angelo Ogbonna in the sixth and final minute of injury time, but Tottenham did enough to earn a first away win in the league since beating Fulham on January 20.
“I think we are lucky,” Mourinho said, “that I have so many years in the Premier League that I told the players at halftime even if we score 3-0, minute 85 the game will be open. I think they understood that.”
On Alli, who has struggled for form this season and hasn’t been selected in recent England squads, Mourinho said: “I’m happy with him. I spent a few minutes with him in training and outside the pitch. And we were saying that the best Dele Alli has to be back.
“He’s too good to not be one of the best players in the world and not playing with the national team.”
Spurs was in 14th place, 11 points off the top four, when Mourinho took over but already look a team revitalized under their new manager.
Mourinho still has to solve an issue with Christian Eriksen, the Denmark playmaker who has been unsettled this season and started on the bench again against West Ham.
“I need to understand what’s in Christian’s mind or heart,” Mourinho said before kickoff, “and we have to make the right decision for the club.”