Andre Villas-Boas has refused to blame Emmanuel Adebayor for the 5-2 defeat to north London rivals Arsenal on Saturday.
The Togolese striker opened the scoring for Tottenham after 10 minutes, but was shown the red card eight minutes later following a reckless tackle on Santi Cazorla, with the Gunners going on to make full use of their one-man advantage.
Despite the loss, the Portuguese manager refused to lay the blame at the striker’s feet and when asked by Sky Sports News whether the game swung on Adebayor’s red card, he said: “No – first I am very, very proud of my players, I think it was too much time playing with 10 men.
“The sending off, these things happen in football. I think the referee made the right decision, but today I’m very proud of my team.”
The 35-year-old chose to focus on other areas where he felt the game was lost – losing the third goal just before half-time, and Gareth Bale wasting a great opportunity to set up Jermain Defoe to reduce the deficit at 4-2.
He continued: “There are two key moments in the game; the 3-1 left us with a big margin to come back, but there were also a couple of chances for the 4-3.
“Had we taken the game to a one-goal difference in the second half I think we could have gone all the way through because we certainly had the football, the passion, the ambition and the desire with 10 men, so I don’t take it as a defeat.
“I take the result but I am extremely proud of the team.”
The White Hart Lane boss revealed he will not punish Adebayor for his early red card, adding: “Players go to dispute the ball not with the intention to do any harm but sometimes situations like this happen.”
Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger has called for Arsenal to show greater consistency.
“People are there to question our performances when we are not at the top,” the Gunners manager said.
“I have a great confidence in this team that they have something special and was always confident that we would come out but we want to show that now in a consistent way.
“It’s a big win, I promised goals before the game. You were not disappointed.
“They had a good start and after that we were 1-0 down and even a chance for a second goal but we have shown belief, spirit and quality in our game.
“Even if they were down to 10 men, you could see that we were coming into the game and creating chances.
“In the end it was a great win, a great score and that will strengthen our belief again.”
Theo Walcott turned in a superb performance from the right wing, and the manager was delighted with his game, reaffirming his determination to keep him at the Emirates beyond the end of the season, when his contract expires.
“He was tremendous, Theo, from the first to the last minute,” Wenger said.
“I’m happy that he got a goal as well because in the end, he finished as a centre-forward and I’m happy that he scored a goal from this position.
“I haven’t changed my mind on him, for a long time I have said that I will try to keep him.”