After leading a previously struggling Tottenham Hotspur side to three victories in three matches since taking over the club, new manager Jose “The Special One” Mourinho on Wednesday must take Spurs up north to face the club that fired him almost exactly one year ago — Manchester United. But a seemingly mellowed Mourinho has taken pains to speak highly of his tumultuous tenure at Manchester, describing that period as “closed chapter” in his career, and insisting that he’s “not a villain,” as quoted by The Guardian.
Mourinho even revealed that he keeps a few photographs from his days at United in the new office he now occupies in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, according to the Guardian report.
But the midweek matchup is arguably the biggest game of the 2019/2020 season so far for Spurs, who appear revitalized after the departure of coach Mauricio Pochettino. While he took them to the UEFA Champions League final last season, Pochettino seemed to lose the dressing room this season, as Spurs won only three of their first 12 league matches. The club often appeared unmotivated, perhaps most notably in a 7-2 Champions League trouncing by Bundesliga champs Bayern Munich two months ago.
Under Mourinho’s so-far brief time at the helm, Tottenham has pushed to the brink of the top four once again. Their 20 points put them six off the pace of fourth-place Chelsea, a side that Mourinho actually led twice.
The game is also an important one for United, and in particular for the man who replaced Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Though Mourinho was fired after their slow start last season, Solskjaer has the club sitting in 10th place with 18 points — their worst start after 14 matches in 31 years, according to the BBC.
Though Manchester United management has continued to state that Solskjaer’s position is secure, rumors persist that the team is already eyeing Pochettino to come in and attempt to turn the once-dominant club’s fortunes around.
Despite playing on the road, and the fact that Tottenham has lost to Manchester United 34 times — more matches than they’ve lost to any other English Premier League side — oddsmakers have given the nod to Spurs as a slight favorite.
According to Bleacher Report, the money line on Spurs is +155, meaning that a bet of $100 on Tottenham to win would pay off $155, or a $55 profit. United’s Moneyline is +170, while oddsmakers have a draw in the match at Moneyline odds of +250.
The match is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. local time at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. In the United States, the match will be televised live by NBC Sports Network with kickoff at 2:30 p.m. EST, 11:30 a.m. PST.