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‘All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur’ review: José Mourinho the only highlight of a superficial series

José Mourinho (C) in ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The script writes itself for certain sports documentaries.

A team that achieves unprecedented success (Manchester City, the ‘soccer subject’ of All or Nothing’s previous season), a great team that is struggling to climb out of a messy situation (Amazon Prime series Take Us Home: Leeds United), or a team forever struggling on the wrong end of the points table, but however is still an integral part of the city and local culture (Sunderland ‘Til I Die on Netflix) — there is enough drama already in each of these subjects that a viewer seldom needs more compulsion to tune in.

Essentially, the odds against All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur is its subject. What of Spurs, after a year of middling performances and failing to live up to expectations, yet again, is worthy of being documented? This is where José Mourinho takes centrestage.

Son Heung-min in ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur’

Son Heung-min in ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In all likelihood, Spurs would have inked the deal with Amazon on the back of a spectacular run to the UEFA Champions League Final in 2019. However, very few foresaw the club imploding at the start of 2019-20 Premier League season leading to the departure of long time coach Mauricio Pochettino in mid-November last year.

Pochettino figures for 25-odd minutes in episode one of the series, and that sets the narrative. The focus will be on the club’s resurgence under new coach, the controversial José Mourinho, although we know now that it didn’t quite pan out the way chairman Daniel Levy may have hoped for. The team showed some fight and faltered before stuttering across the finishing line.

Spurs has a squad full of superstar players, none more so than England captain Harry Kane.

Harry Kane (R) in ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur’

Harry Kane (R) in ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Yet it is José Mourinho whose presence looms large like a spectre. The Portuguese coach is a cult-of-personality figure. We have loved and hated him in equal measure, yet we never shy away from reading anything that is about him. Simply put, José Mourinho is the same newsmaker today that he was when he arrived in England in 2004 and christened himself the ‘Special One’.

Which is why, if the first three episodes are anything to go by, All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur is quite the disappointment in that we are presented with a superficial documentation of Mourinho. The drama is lacking. One of the most successful coaches of his generation, we get to see little of Mourinho’s tactical mind (where is the bus parking genius?), not even in the game where we see Spurs net five against a hapless Burnley FC side.

That said, we do see the everyday side of Mourinho: the brazen, foul-mouthed, practical coach who is upfront about wanting Harry Kane to ‘explode’ and who calls Dele Alli out for being lazy in training.

Dele Alli in ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur’

Dele Alli in ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Six more episodes are set to follow in the next couple of weeks, but if the first three are anything to go by, then All or Nothing missed a trick in failing to milk the drama out of Spurs’ London derbies (especially considering the club’s meandering season). We also see a lot of Daniel Levy, the club chairman, who seems to have a very hands-on role in the daily affairs of the club’s operations. Levy has been something of a riddle for rival clubs’ fans for a long time, and it is surprising to see that the series has failed to explore in depth the backstories of the many critical figures at the club.

The involvement of the club’s massive fan base is noticeably absent, often relegated to a vox populi capacity. However, there is a more than passeable reference to the community outreach programmes; the only downside is that the series does not dwell on it either.

It is still early days, and maybe there is something left to salvage. But considering Spurs’ unenviable finish and the reluctance of the show’s producers to scratch more than just the surface, the odds of it happening is improabable.

All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur streams on Amazon Prime Video

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 2:40:08 PM |

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