JOSE MOURINHO showed again last night how much he loves quick-thinking ball boys after one helped Tottenham beat Olympiakos.
The art of throwing the ball back on to the pitch quickly enough to keep the play moving is one that the Portuguese coach takes very seriously.
Tuesday night saw a ball boy hastily lob Serge Aurier the ball to continue the momentum of an attack.
The Ivorian set Lucas Moura away down the wing so he had the time and space to pick out Harry Kane for the equaliser in the 4-2 win.
Mourinho responded ecstatically, high-fiving and embracing the lad who helped his side claim victory in his first game at Tottenham Stadium.
The ball boys and girls at Spurs can expect to receive extra focus with the 56-year-old in charge.
As a former ball boy himself, he has incredibly high standards for the troop of youngsters and wants them to play a role in his tactical system.
Speaking on pundit duties earlier in the year, he told RT: “You want a quick throw-in, the ball boy needs to know that you want a quick throw-in.
“The ball needs to arrive fast. The goal kicks, the tempo of the game, the ball boys can also play a part in a good structure.”
That can result in some negative feedback for his ball boys and girls, Mourinho famously sacking the kids at Manchester United because they were too slow at returning the ball.
And, in March 2014, he had a run-in with a Crystal Palace ball boy that he felt Cesar Azpilicueta “was going to lose emotional control” with in the dying moments of a 1-0 defeat.
The Chelsea defender was unhappy with the perceived slow response of the youngster, with Mourinho saying afterwards: “I went to stop Azpi and after that I had a chance to get the kid and the kid was cute.
When I was a ball boy, I even knew where the players wanted the ball for a corner, so they didn’t need to touch the ball.
“He came to me and I told him, ‘You do this, one day will somebody punch you’. It’s not their fault.”
Mason Mount has even claimed to being a ball boy at the club, the midfielder being on the books at Chelsea since 2005.
With Mourinho as his old boss, the England star recently told the Blues website: “The first thing I really remember is being ball boy at the games. That was a big thing for me, I was so buzzing about that. You can’t really be any closer than that.
“One thing that did stick with me was Jose Mourinho coming to us and telling us that if we’re winning in the Champions League, don’t throw the ball back quick. Keep hold of the ball. Don’t throw it back.”
In the pursuit of success, every small detail is important to some managers and they can often be mocked for trying to micro-manage.
Jurgen Klopp’s throw-in coach was one such example and Spurs will need to honour Mourinho’s desire to get the ball boys and girls up to speed if they are to be, in his words, a “real” club.
He claimed back in the summer: “I had a club where they never understood how important the ball boys are.
“I was a ball boy, a top ball boy. When I was a ball boy, I even knew where the players wanted the ball for a corner, so they didn’t need to touch the ball.
“At a real football club, every detail is very, very important.”