Date published: Thursday 29th October 2020 8:25
Jose Mourinho was frustrated to see some of his fringe players fail to make their mark as Tottenham slipped to a limp 1-0 Europa League defeat to Royal Antwerp.
Mourinho made nine changes to his side for the game in Belgium but was still able to name a strong side.
Dele Alli was handed just his third start of the season. The likes of Gareth Bale, Carlos Vinicius, Steven Bergwijn, Giovani Lo Celso and Harry Winks all took their place in the line-up.
Spurs went into the match having not lost since the opening day of the season. However, a goal just before the half-hour mark from Lior Refaelov handed Antwerp a deserved win – and left Mourinho licking his wounds.
Clearly frustrated by what he witnessed in Belgium, Mourinho admitted afterwards that he would have hooked all 11 players at half-time if he could.
In the end, Mourinho made four at half-time and his fifth and final change on 58 minutes.
“I would like to make 11 [changes],” he admitted. “I didn’t make five as was afraid of a long 45 minutes.
“At half-time I tried to improve the situation but it was not enough. Second half we improved. In the end though Antwerp got what they deserved. The best team won and the worst team lost.”
Mourinho admits he knows his strongest XI but wants to use the Europa League for some fringe stars to prove their worth.
However, he was clearly frustrated by what he witnessed. Without naming names, Mourinho admitted his stand-ins had failed to catch his eye.
“You know what our best team is. I always like to think the players deserve an opportunity. We have a big squad,” he explained. “It’s also their opportunity to catch the chance with both hands and ask for more.
“[After] Tonight my future choices are going to be very easy.”
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Mourinho won’t point finger at Dele Alli
Alli was one of those to be subbed off at half-time and his lack of impact will again see doubts placed over his future.
Having reportedly been close to leaving in the summer window, Alli failed to take his chance and now seems down Mourinho’s pecking order.
The Spurs boss, however, refused to pin the blame solely on the midfielder.
I don’t want to analyse individually,” Mourinho said when questioned about Dele. “It’s fair to say that players with bad performances influence the team but also a team influence individual performances.
“It’s not for me to individualise and bring some names to the table.”
Asked for his thouhgts on Antwerp, Mourinho concluded: “They are what we analyse. They got in a situation where we let them win. I don’t want to take credit from them.”
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