Jose Mourinho can understand why Dele Alli was unhappy at not being used in Tottenham’s 2-0 win over Royal Antwerp and has defended Harry Winks for heading down the tunnel after being substituted.
Winks was one of nine new faces in Tottenham’s starting line-up from last weekend’s win over Arsenal but lasted just an hour before being replaced by Moussa Sissoko, two minutes after Carlos Vinicius had opened the scoring.
Whereas Vinicius and Gareth Bale headed for the bench, Winks made his way past Mourinho and straight to the dressing room area.
But Mourinho says he gave the 24-year-old, who has started 10 games in all competition this term, permission to go and get changed
“I told him to go, I told every player that left the pitch to go because when the weather is cold I prefer they go to the dressing room and have a shower,” he said at his post-match news conference.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 10, 2020
“I told them to go, though some prefer to stay. Winks decided to go and I am happy with that because I am the one that told him to do it.”
Mourinho made all five of his substitutions before the 70-minute mark, though Alli – surprisingly omitted from the much-changed XI – was not one of those introduced.
The midfielder was seen leaving the bench before coming back and Mourinho accepts it is not possible to keep every player in his squad pleased.
“Let’s not run away from reality,” he said. “A player on the bench who realises all five subs have been used of course is not a happy player and I would not expect him to be happy.
“But, again, every player that is on the bench or every player that leaves the pitch in cold weather, with me, they can go to the dressing room and I even prefer if that happens.”
Tottenham and Antwerp had already sealed a place in the last 32 of the competition but top spot was on the line in Thursday’s clash.
Mourinho turned to star attacking duo Son Heung-min and Harry Kane for the final half an hour, the latter playing in Giovani Lo Celso for the second goal.
— Harry Kane (@HKane) December 10, 2020
Asked to explain why he felt the need to bring on Son and Kane, Mourinho said: “The thinking was to win the match, a match that we were always in control despite them not creating any chance that I remember.
“The game was still open and to play 30 minutes is not an accumulation of fatigue. To play 30 minutes is less than 90 minutes, 100 minutes training session so it was not a problem at all.
“I decided at 1-0 to bring fresh people and to bring people who could give a last kick in the story of the game and it was game over when Gio score the second goal.”
Tottenham have now recorded six successive home wins in all competitions for the first time in two years and will be among the seeded teams for Monday’s draw in Nyon.
And with his side also top of the Premier League with 11 matches played, perennial trophy winner Mourinho has another piece of major silverware in his sights.
“As I say every week we focus on the next match,” he said. “If the next match is Europa League, Europa League is important, if the next match is cup, the cup is important, if the next match is Premier League, the Premier League is important.
“We play every match to win, sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t do it. But the intention is always to be positive.
“Today we got an objective which is not a fundamental objective because the difference between finishing first and second in the draw is not a massive difference but it maybe helps and we did our job by winning the match.”
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