Jose Mourinho made it known it is impossible to keep his whole squad happy after a largely second-string Spurs side beat Royal Antwerp to progress to the Europa League last 32 as Group J winners.
Spurs coach, Mourinho has stuck to a fairly consistent first XI in the Premier League this season and has been rewarded by them leading the table with 11 games played.
However, he once again took the opportunity to rest players on Thursday including in-from attacking pair Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, instead of giving minutes to the likes of Gareth Bale, Carlos Vinicius, and Harry Winks.
Some rose to the occasion with Vinicius tapping in the opener after visiting goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand palmed Bale’s dipping, long-range free-kick on to the post.
Giovani lo Celso was the best player on the pitch, capping his display with a neat finish for the second, laid on by substitute Kane.
Others in the likes of Harry Winks endured a frustrating night after being substituted and chose to depart down the tunnel. Also, Dele Alli did not feature at all and also briefly left the bench after Mourinho had made his fifth and final change.
“I can’t keep the squad happy”. Mourinho said.
“I believe they are happy because we are winning but they’re not happy because they’re not playing. Every player that left the pitch I told them to go to the shower because it was cold. Some decided to go and some decided to stay”.
“It’s an impossible job to keep every player and if you go to every club people who don’t play aren’t happy”.
Particularly on Alli, Mourinho added, “Let’s not run away from reality. A player o the bench who realized all five subs have been used of course is not a happy player and I would not expect him to be happy”.
Royal Antwerp Stakes their Claim.
Antwerp beat a very lackluster Tottenham in the reverse fixture in October in which Mourinho made four changes at half-time and voiced his displeasure about it afterward including in an Instagram picture of himself alone on the team bus.
Tottenham was better than that on Thursday but only just in a dour first half that yielded few chances and little evidence that those on the periphery of the first team are deserving of a Premier League start.
Spur’s second string was able to take the lead thanks to Vinicius’ third Spurs goal, all of which have come in this competition. But it was telling that Mourinho turned to his attacking big guns almost immediately to ensure the win.
“The game is open. When I thought about the changes the results was 0-0 then we scored a goal. But that didn’t change my mind”. Added Mourinho.
“We needed a little bit more of routines which these players have and the intensity. They had the intensity because they play week in, week out”.
“We managed to keep Antwerp away from our goal. Joe Hart didn’t make a single save. 0-0 at half time. I thought in the second half with a bit of intensity they will collapse. It was a great free-kick from Gareth Bale and a striker smelling the second ball to score. The decision was made. Harry is Harry and Sonny is intense”.