Spurs leave it late against Southampton in this episode | James Chance/Getty Images
It’s the documentary about one of English football’s greatest soap operas, it has Harry Kane and José Mourinho using naughty words in it, and it gives you a thrilling insight into Dele Alli’s opinion on Bounty chocolate bars – you can keep your HBO box sets, All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur is the true definition of prestige TV.
With episodes 4-6 now out, the drama is only getting more, well, dramatic, with Mourinho’s honeymoon period as Spurs head coach winding down ahead of a crucial series of games which are set to be the difference between All and Nothing for Tottenham.
Here’s an overview of the sixth episode where things are really starting to kick off – obviously, if spoilers aren’t your thing, you can stop reading right here.
The backdrop of the episode is injuries, injuries and more injuries. Though the squad are jubilant in the wake of an unlikely win over Manchester City, Kane, Moussa Sissoko and Ben Davies remain sidelined going into a crucial period of the season.
The medical staff, headed by Geoff Scott, get quite a bit of the limelight throughout, with Scott discussing how difficult it is to balance the desire of managers to have their best players available with the need to look after the bodies of the footballers themselves.
Fortunately for Spurs, Erik Lamela is back, although his first training session lasts all of half an hour before he has to have another chat with the medical staff. This episode gives us some background on the Argentinian forward, talking about his passionate love of football in particular.
Lamela’s injury woes are covered in great depth during this episode | Alex Morton/Getty Images
Moura, ever the good interviewee, also talks at length about the mental side of injuries, but as ever he manages to keep it light, surprising a young Brazilian fan during a stadium tour in a classic bit of heartwarming filler.
He can’t afford to spend too long melting our hearts, though, because there’s an FA Cup replay against Southampton to play. Spurs make their first of two (kind of) inspirational comebacks in this episode after Hugo Lloris and Mourinho rally the troops at half time.
A newly-bald Mourinho is now in a good mood ahead of a crucial period of games in the league and Champions League, and even better, Spurs can call on Davies again. We learn about the importance of the softly-spoken Welshman to Mourinho’s plans, as well as his own struggles with an injury he picked up against West Ham.
Mourinho receives a huge injury blow after Son picks up a knock against Aston Villa | Michael Regan/Getty Images
With Kane out of action, the focus is on Son ahead of a big league game against Aston Villa and, though the Korean delivers with aplomb in the episode’s second stirring fightback, scoring in the dying second to give Spurs a huge win, he picks up an ominous injury to his elbow.
At first this injury looks fine, and Son is very reluctant to have an MRI on it, hoping to play Spurs’ Champions League game against Leipzig. Scans reveal that he has fractured it badly, however, and he’s out for the season, with Mourinho himself looking pretty miffed at the poor medical staff who have to deliver the news.
Lamela and Moura, who reminisces on his special relationship with Champions League football, are now under pressure to deliver ahead of the Leipzig game, which is menacingly teased before the credits roll.
Spurs’ Injury WoesMourinho is happy about Davies coming back into the side | Marc Atkins/Getty Images
If you’re a fan of injuries, injuries being treated, players recovering from injuries and people complaining about injuries, you can’t do much better than this episode.
It’s impossible not to feel a bit sorry for Scott and his team in this episode, who basically just walk around bearing season-defining bad news to various figures at Tottenham. Son is absolutely gutted when the medical staff suggest he might need a scan on his elbow, and a brusque Mourinho is pretty keen for him to play against Leipzig too. He’s just doing his job, guys!
While from Davies, to Lamela, to Moura, to Son, we get various perspectives as to how rubbish and boring injuries are, if you were being incredibly cynical, you might say that Mourinho talks as much as possible about how depleted his squad is to cover his back ahead of a huge run of games. We get it mate, injuries are bad, but it’s kind of your job to figure out a way around them.
Comeback SeasonMourinho’s half-time team talks are fascinating in this episode | Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images
This episode gives us an insight into two similar, last-minute comebacks against Southampton and Aston Villa, and two very different half-time team talks from Mourinho. The Portuguese boss talks endlessly about ‘mentality’ in this episode, and how it’s more important than any tactical system, and here at least, he does deliver on this philosophy.
Against Southampton, a game where Spurs were far more under the cosh, Mourinho urges calm, producing nothing more than a half-hearted ‘come on!’ after Lloris gives the team a nice telling-off.
In contrast, the Special One practically spits ‘don’t be stupid’ at his players with Spurs in the driving seat against Villa at half time. Surely he’d be more upset with them in the first instance and more eager to keep everyone chilled out in the second, right? Well, that’s probably why he is managing the football matches and I’m watching them on my laptop with a cup of tea.
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Harry?
Moura and Dele are under the microscope in this episode | Naomi Baker/Getty Images
This episode also gives some details as to how Mourinho is forced to engage in a bit of contingency planning with Kane missing out for what was assumed to be the entire season.
He tries to drill Son and Moura as an aggressive front two against Southampton, staying positionally disciplined but attempting to win second balls where necessary to unsettle the Saints’ back three.
When Son is injured Mourinho is forced to replace him with Dele in this strike parternship, urging Spurs to try and play as a 4-4-1-1 in possession, but revert to a 4-4-2 out of it, as best to pose a threat on the counter.
Typically of Mourinho, even when he’s thinking about attacking, it’s in a defensive vein, but you can see why players take to him as a coach – his tactical meetings are concise, easy to understand and most importantly, short.
Mourinho: ‘[The injury crisis not allowing Spurs to settle] is like when you have a blanket in your bed, and you push the blanket, and the feet are out, and then you have cold in your feet and cover the feet, and then half of your body is outside the blanket’
Lucas Moura: [exuberantly smashing trolley onto dressing room floor after Southampton result]
Mourinho: [After Southampton game] ‘If you make a lot of noise, I give one more day off’
Whole Spurs Squad: [Cheers heartily]
Son was the hero from the spot against Southampton | Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Ben Davies’ extremely understated reaction to a huge injury layoff: ‘It’s going to be a pretty boring one then?’
Son: ‘Football is for me everything, life…without football, probably no life’
Mourinho was confident going into a huge clash with Julian Nagelsmann | Jean Catuffe/Getty Images
Mourinho: [On injuries, but also beautifully encapsulating the Tottenham Hotspur experience] ‘When we find confidence, happiness… something finds us to kick us in our teeth’
Mourinho: [Discussing Leipzig Pre-Match] ‘They are going to give us very good chances to f*** them’
In truth, this was quite a low key episode, and you’re unlikely to see much of it circulating on Twitter, as the ins and outs of medical science and Ben Davies talking about injuries hardly constitute laugh-a-minute material.
It also speaks to one of the other flaws of the All of Nothing format – if Spurs had gone deep in the Champions League or put together a title charge, the tension of the matches and the environment surrounding them would be that much more palpable, but this can be more accurately described at times as a gentle documentary about a group of nice young men who finish sixth and not much else.
While at times it’s therefore difficult to see what this offers for neutrals that the Leeds/Manchester City documentary didn’t already in terms of fly-on-the-wall stuff, the obvious answer is Mourinho. The Special One has a true knack for playing up to the camera, and although you might find yourself rolling your eyes at some of his schtick, the words ‘box office’ have never been more applicable to a footballing figure.