Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho has publicly apologised to Eric Dier following his first-half substitution during the club’s 4-2 Champions League comeback win over Olympiakos.
Spurs secured their qualification for the knock-out stages by beating the Greek side at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but they were made to work hard for the victory after falling two goals down in the opening 19 minutes.
Dele Alli pulled one back on the stroke of half-time, before stand-in captain Harry Kane’s second-half double and a Serge Aurier goal sealed three points for Mourinho’s side and progress to the last-16.
Mourinho acted swiftly following the club’s poor start to the contest and made an early change, replacing the defensive-minded Dier with playmaker Christian Eriksen just before the half-hour mark.
The Spurs boss has apologised to Dier for his early substitution but insisted a change in approach was necessary as his side looked to turn the tie around.
José Mourinho is the first manager in history to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages with six different clubs.
The Special Six. ? pic.twitter.com/HzRtErMRkU
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 26, 2019
Speaking in his post-match interview with BT Sport, Mourinho said: “The first thing I want to say is to publicly what I did in the dressing room is to apologise to Eric Dier. It is never easy for a player but not for the coaching staff either. It was for the team and we needed a different solution.
”We were losing 2-0, they were closing really well and I needed a second man with Dele Alli to come into the pockets. It was between Dier and Harry Winks but a hard decision. They understand, Eric understands but the reality it is never a easy and to make it clear, it was about the team not individuals. I thought about taking out one of the centre-backs and putting Eric in defence.
“We have qualified for the next round, that is the important thing for all of us at the club and the fans. It was hard, they are a good team, very well organised and they attacked our self esteem and self confidence. I did not expect our boys to feel this pressure at home and they have not had the best results in the last few months.
”It was a tough time, more than the changes or the tactical talk, I told them to keep calm, keep confident and believe in ourselves.”