Jose Mourinho slammed his fringe players for not grabbing their chance and suggested they may not be trusted again after dismal showing in Antwerp… so, who are the stars on the Tottenham boss’ hit list
- Tottenham fell to an embarrassing defeat by Royal Antwerp in the Europa League
- Jose Mourinho made nine changes but hooked four of them at half-time
- Dele Alli, Steven Bergwijn and Giovani Lo Celso struggled to impress in Belgium
- Mourinho struggled to hide his disappointment with Spurs’ fringe players after
Jose Mourinho has made it abundantly clear which of his Tottenham players he can and can’t trust following their miserable 1-0 defeat by Antwerp.
The Spurs boss couldn’t hide his disappointment with a number of the club’s fringe players following their woeful displays in Belgium on Thursday evening.
Mourinho made nine changes to his starting XI for the Europa League clash, giving the likes of Dele Alli, Harry Winks, Carlos Vinicius and Steven Bergwijn the opportunity to shine against lesser opposition.
Jose Mourinho laid into Tottenham’s fringe players following his side’s 1-0 defeat by Antwerp
But while the opportunity was there, none of them took it – leaving Mourinho to make a flurry of changes at half-time in an attempt to claw back a result.
Second-half appearances from Son Heung-min, Harry Kane and Erik Lamela weren’t enough to salvage a point at the Bosuilstadion, with the damage already done following Lior Refaelov’s winning goal in the first half.
When Mourinho was asked about Alli’s performance afterwards, he refused to be drawn in on criticising players individually but didn’t hold back when it came to slamming the team’s woeful showing.
‘I don’t want to analyse individually,’ Mourinho told reporters after the game. ‘It’s fair to say that players with bad performances influence the team but also a team influence individual performances.
His side produced one of their worst displays under the Portuguese since he arrived last year
The Belgian side celebrate together on the pitch following the impressive win on Thursday
‘It’s not for me to individualise and bring some names to the table. You can do that yourself. You always tell me “why is this player not playing, why is this player not playing” – maybe you don’t ask me that for a few weeks as you have the answer.
‘You know what our best team is. I always like to think the players deserve an opportunity. We have a big squad with lots of good players. It’s my responsibility to give them opportunities but it’s also their opportunity to catch the chance with both hands and ask for more. Tonight shows my future choices are going to be very easy.’
Mourinho’s damning assessment makes one thing clear – he knows his best XI and who he can rely on going forward.
But who are the players that have made his future selections ‘very easy’? Here, Sportsmail takes a lot at the Spurs players who need to rapidly improve if they are fight their way back into first-team contention.
Chances have been hard to come by for Dele Alli this season and it seems they’ll be even harder to get after Thursday’s performance.
The England international may now be rueing the chance to leave the club on loan in the summer window because it’s clear that minutes are drying up under Mourinho.
After being handed his first start in a month, Alli went missing when it mattered most, as he failed to leave any sort of mark on the game.
And the statistics don’t read pretty, either.
Dele Alli (right) went missing against Antwerp on Thursday before being hooked at half-time
Before being one of the four men to be hooked at half-time, Alli didn’t managed a single attempt on goal, he had a zero per cent duel success and had made no tackles, while he lost possession a staggering 11 times.
It was the second time in three starts that Alli didn’t return for the second half having started the game, which very much leaves his future at the club in doubt.
His start to life under Mourinho was so very promising but now the Portuguese boss will be questioning whether ‘Dele’s brother’ is back on the scene.
While Alli has fallen down the pecking order in Spurs’ attacking ranks, Bergwijn has the unenviable task of competing with the likes of Son, Erik Lamela, Lucas Moura and Gareth Bale for a spot on the wing.
The Dutchman was handed a starting spot against Antwerp but struggled to break down Ivan Leko’s stubborn defence, which saw him join Alli in the stands for the second half.
While both have age on their side, the chance to impress Mourinho on a night when it was sorely needed has now gone and Bergwijn faces an uphill battle in a position that is already heavily populated.
Steven Bergwijn was another who didn’t impress and was hooked during the half-time interval
His performance on Thursday will now leave no doubt in Mourinho’s mind as to what Bergwijn’s role is in the team – an impact sub and good rotational player.
But if the former PSV man wants a more important role in the squad, he will need to make more of an impact when the chance is handed to him.
Mourinho has always been skeptical of Davinson Sanchez, long before the pair arrived at Tottenham.
When the Colombian lined up for Ajax in the 2017 Europa League final against Mourinho’s Manchester United, he was targeted as the ‘weak link’ in the Dutch side’s defence.
Recent performances won’t have helped his cause while he looked shaky in periods against an Antwerp side that could have had three or four goals on the night.
Sanchez did manage to redeem himself by making a goal-saving block after a terrible back-pass to Hugo Lloris but he was left exposed on more than one occasions, which begs the question whether he will be handed more starting opportunities in the Premier League.
Eric Dier and Toby Aldwereireld are Mourinho’s favoured centre-back pairing and have nailed down starting spots so it remains to be seen if Sanchez gets a regular run of minutes in the near future.
Davinson Sanchez looked shaky in spells but did mange to make a goal-saving block
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has been the type of midfielder Spurs have been crying out for for some time – but the Dane’s arrival has come at the cost of Harry Winks’ place in the team.
The England international put in an uninspiring display against Antwerp and failed to make a lasting impression in the 90 minutes he had on the field.
He almost gifted Antwerp a second goal after the break, when his lazy backpass to Lloris was superbly blocked by Sanchez, as previously mentioned.
Winks is also fighting for minutes with Tanguy Ndombele, whose rapid rise in form has pushed Winks further down the midfield pecking order, with the Frenchman preferred in a pivot given he is a lot more direct for Mourinho’s liking.
It’s safe to say that Mourinho has a soft spot for Winks since taking over from Mauricio Pochettino last November, but with performances like that against Antwerp, Winks will need to do more than rely on a good feeling to get back into the starting XI.
Harry Winks (left) was another player that struggled to make an impact against Antwerp
This may be one of the harsher inclusions on this list but it’s fair to say that there is a lot more work to be done for new boy Carlos Vinicius.
The Brazilian impressed on his debut last week after he notched two assists against LASK in the club’s first Europa League group game.
His link-up play with Lucas and Son earned him rave reviews with many looking forward to seeing him in action once again.
However, a repeat of his heroics wasn’t to be, with the Brazilian dragged off at half-time in Belgium to allow Son 45 minutes to make a difference.
It’s far too early to judge how Vinicius will fair at Tottenham but Mourinho will be relying on him given the packed fixture schedule this season.
There is plenty more work to be done for Tottenham new boy Carlos Vinicius (left)
Giovani Lo Celso
While Giovani Lo Celso wasn’t terrible against Antwerp, he wasn’t great, either.
Another player to be hooked at half-time, Lo Celso looked off the pace in the first half.
While the Argentine is returning to match-fitness following a muscle injury, he will be hoping to make more of an impact when he is afforded more minutes in the coming days and weeks.
Lo Celso has done enough to impress Mourinho at Tottenham to warrant a spot in his starting XI but injuries have plagued him.
While he isn’t a cause for concern like others on this list, Lo Celso will know that his standards can’t slip if he is to be relied upon this year.
Giovani Lo Celso is returning from injury but was one of the men to be hooked at half-time
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