It appears José Mourinho does not spend his evenings poring over Dulux colour charts. As Tottenham’s new partnership with the paint company began on a less than glossy footing, the club’s puzzled, and under-pressure, manager inquired: “What is Dulux?”
While Mourinho was putting his players through their training-ground paces before Friday’s vital Premier League trip to Everton, Spurs announced Dulux had become their official paint supplier, with the signing of this deal marked by the company’s trademark shaggy dog taking a tour of the stadium and training ground.
Shortly afterwards, Dulux’s social media team began making a series of apparent diplomatic gaffes as they responded to Twitter users’ teasingly sarcastic responses to images of that canine sightseeing trip.
Not content with mocking Tottenham’s recent silverware shortage, they posted a picture of an empty trophy cabinet, said it would be too dusty to paint and suggested the Dulux dog “might do a better job” at centre half than Mourinho’s struggling defenders.
Although these posts were hastily deleted, Tottenham’s perplexed manager was inundated with questions about the tweets during his pre-match media address but did not appear to realise Dulux was a brand of paint.
When the issue was explained and it was suggested that he and his club had been reduced to a laughing stock, Mourinho still declined to be drawn. “I don’t know what you are speaking about,” he said. “But maybe it’s an amazing marketing strategy. If I criticise it and then I realise it’s an amazing strategy I’ll be in a bad position.”
Several hours later Dulux apologised. “We’re deeply sorry for the posts from Dulux this morning in response to the announcement of our relationship with @SpursOfficial,” read the message. “These do not reflect how proud we are to be the Official Paint Supplier of the Club. We’re investigating what happened and apologise to all Spurs fans.”
Mourinho had seemed downbeat before a game which could go a long way to determining not only whether Tottenham’s slender-looking hopes of Champions League qualification remain realistic but his short- to medium-term future. Spurs stand seventh, six points adrift of fourth-placed West Ham and one in front of eighth-placed Everton, who hold a game in hand.
Even so, Tottenham’s manager did not agree the meeting was necessarily a must-win. “With still more than 20 points on the table, I think it [Champions League qualification] is still open,” said Mourinho. “I don’t think anything will be decided tomorrow but of course if one team gets the points, it stops the loser from getting them and that gives an advantage in the direct duel.”
He does not expect his side, who face Southampton at home in another important league match on Wednesday, to be distracted by their impending Carabao Cup final against Manchester City on Sunday week.
“It’s a big nine days which are going to end with a cup final which is going to be an important moment,” said Mourinho, who remains without the injured Matt Doherty and Ben Davies.
“But, in this moment, the final is still a bit far and of course the Goodison match is very important. The distance between the two teams is very, very short. We need to separate the waters. The cup final is important but we need to focus totally on a very difficult match at Everton.”
He declined to explain why Spurs have dropped a potential 18 points after surrendering winning positions and why only relegation-threatened Brighton harbour a greater inability to protect and preserve a lead.
“I know why it has happened,” said Mourinho, whose side surrendered the lead before losing 3-1 at home to Manchester United in a controversy-tinged encounter last Sunday, before turning coy. “[But] that’s what I’m not ready to discuss with you. It has to do with some of our qualities as a team but I’m not ready to discuss it.” Asked when he might be more forthcoming, he replied: “Maybe never.” – Guardian