Mourinho perfectly happy to discuss his players’ shortcomings

Spurs without Kane look bankrupt when it comes to scoring

Spurs manager José Mourinho: he insists he can still bring glory to the club. Photograph: Clive Rose/PA Wire

Spurs manager José Mourinho: he insists he can still bring glory to the club. Photograph: Clive Rose/PA Wire

 

So, José Mourinho. Are you feeling the pressure after three Premier League defeats in a row? His Tottenham team’s abject 1-0 home loss against Chelsea on Thursday night represented the first time since 2012 that the club had slipped up on three successive occasions in the competition.

“So since 2012 without three defeats in a row? But since when without a title [trophy]?” Mourinho shot back.

The answer to that is 13 years, and it was the Carling Cup, claimed after a 2-1 victory against Chelsea in the final.

“Maybe I can give one,” Mourinho added, meaning a trophy.

A gentle reminder, then, at a bitterly low ebb, that Mourinho still has Spurs alive and kicking in three cups. They have the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City to look forward to on April 25th, and on Thursday week they begin the third phase of the slog towards Europa League glory with their first tie of the knockout rounds against Wolfsberger of Austria. They have worked through three qualifying games and six more at the group stage.

Before that there is the FA Cup fifth-round tie at Everton next Wednesday – a game in which Mourinho hopes to have Harry Kane back from ankle trouble. And not a moment too soon, judging by the manager’s comments after the Chelsea game and, in general, since Kane was forced off at half time in the home defeat against Liverpool on Thursday of last week.

Since then, also taking in the defeat at Brighton on Sunday, Spurs have been close to bankrupt in terms of posing a goal threat. Mourinho’s first-choice midfielders – Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Moussa Sissoko and Tanguy Ndombele – are not noted for their scoring prowess, and the winger Steven Bergwijn has disappointed in that regard since his arrival from PSV Eindhoven. Is Son Heung-min the same player when Kane is not on the field? Certainly, it is asking too much of Carlos Vinícius, the back-up No 9, to bring the same quality.

No laughing matter

And then there is the sad story of Gareth Bale. He appeared to be enjoying himself as he went through his warm-down with the other unused substitutes after Chelsea, smiling and joking with Joe Rodon. But Bale’s contributions to matches have been fleeting and no laughing matter.

Maybe Lucas Moura and/or Érik Lamela could offer something different from the start in Sunday’s home league game against West Brom.

The thing is that Mourinho has been perfectly happy to discuss his players’ shortcomings; how the team are diminished without Kane. Perhaps he feels it offers him a get-out for the downturn, although that gripped well before the pain in Kane’s ankles; Spurs are on a run of two wins in 10 league matches going back to mid-December. If so, that would be an oddly selfish kind of position. But, well, you know.

“It’s always the old story,” Mourinho said. “A team is not a player. A team cannot depend on a player. Other players have to step up. But there are players that are special players in different teams. Even the biggest teams in the world … when player X is not there, they miss him. And, for sure, Harry is very important for us. He leads. He creates. He has dynamics of closed eyes with Sonny, for example.

“Vinícius tried his best [against Chelsea]. He couldn’t score his goal. I’m happy with him. Period. I don’t want to say much more. I’m happy with his effort.

“The other guys, apart from Sonny – we know they are not goalscorers. They are not the kind of players that, as attacking players, they can score eight, 10, 12 goals in a season. So we have to fight with what we have.”

Downbeat mood

Mourinho would reason that if hard truths hurt, if they force players into their shells, then they are in the wrong business. He has built his career on man-management that can embrace the abrasive. But there can be no mistaking the downbeat mood. Mourinho described his players as “sad” after Brighton, hinting they were missing something or, more likely, somebody.

Are Spurs the Harry Kane team, as Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City manager, once described them? That led to indignation but it feels as though Mourinho broadly agrees. At these kind of moments it surely feels mentally draining to play for him. Spurs have to dig deep, with plenty still up for grabs. West Brom is a must-win. – Guardian

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.