Jose Mourinho has put Tottenham’s inability to hold onto leads down to individual mistakes made by his players, rather than his own managerial ability.
Harry Kane’s quickfire double put Spurs 2-1 ahead at half-time in Sunday’s Premier League clash with Newcastle United after Joelinton had opened the scoring.
That is how the game remained until five minutes from time when Arsenal loanee Joe Willock fired in an equaliser, just 52 seconds after Kane hit the post at the other end.
Spurs have now failed to win six Premier League games this season in which they have led at the interval – the most of any side – as they missed out on a place in the top four, but Mourinho insists his players only have themselves to blame for their latest setback.
“I am frustrated. We needed to win the match and we came to win,” he told BBC Sport. “We were not far from winning it but, at the same time, we created some instability.
“That was down to many individual defensive mistakes that we made. We always gave Newcastle a chance to be in the game.
“Of course, we had the biggest chance of the game to make it 3-1 and kill it, then we concede a goal the next minute.”
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 4, 2021
When it was put to Mourinho that his teams are normally good at holding onto leads, he said: “Same coach, different players.”
Spurs would have climbed above Chelsea had they held on, but they instead sit two points off a Champions League spot ahead of next week’s clash with Mourinho’s former team Manchester United.
Asked if more time is needed to get the best out of his players, Mourinho said: “I don’t think so. We work well, we work hard.
“But there are mistakes which I probably shouldn’t even call mistakes because they are related to qualities that players have.”
Newcastle managed 22 shots at St James’ Park – double that of Tottenham – and had some promising opportunities to score prior to Willock’s leveller.
Kane was responsible for seven of Tottenham’s 11 shots, but Mourinho felt it was the defensive aspect of his side’s game which cost them a fifth win in six league games.
“The Premier League is hard and is high-level football, and when in some actions you don’t show that you belong to that high level of football, it’s difficult,” he said.
“We made defensive mistakes that lead to instability. In the first half we were always in control, even in the second half when we had the ball we didn’t have any problems.
“We could’ve scored a couple more, but in defensive situations we create instability with our mistakes, instability brings hope to our opponent, and our opponent didn’t give up.
“I had the same feeling and I’m on the bench. It’s difficult to have the feeling of absolute control because I know that what happened can happen.
“You cannot score three, four, five goals every match. You come away from home and score two goals… we cannot ask for lots of goals every match, many times it’s not possible.”
6.62 – Newcastle’s 2-2 draw with Spurs had an xG total of 6.62 (4.02 for Newcastle, 2.60 for Spurs); since Opta’s Expected Goals records began in 2010-11, this is the second highest for any Premier League match, after West Brom v Man Utd in May 2013 (6.63). Open. pic.twitter.com/aq3hejZ0xx
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 4, 2021
Kane took his tally for the season to 19 goals in 28 appearances with his first-half double and admitted to being frustrated that his side failed to see out the victory.
“Whenever you are ahead in a game, as we have been a lot this season, and you give the lead away in the last 5-10 minutes, it’s always hard to take,” he told BBC Sport.
“I feel like we could have played better in the second half. We were a bit sloppy. We didn’t take our chances and got punished for it.
“I think we had some good chances. The final ball, final pass or final touch weren’t quite there. That’s the fine margins. We need to play better.”
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