Tottenham Hotspur stopped their losing streak with a 1-1 draw against Burnley, though Jose Mourinho hit out at summer signing Tanguy Ndombele after yet another uninspiring display.
When you are struggling for form and confidence, missing two key attacking players, and have lost each of your last four games in all competitions, a trip to Turf Moor to face Sean Dyche’s Burnley side is probably the last thing that any side wants.
That was the situation that Spurs found themselves on a windy Lancashire evening, and having started the game playing with three at the back, Jose Mourinho’s side were at sixes and sevens. The Clarets would take a deserved lead through the ever-dangerous Chris Wood, who poked home his 11th of the season after Hugo Lloris had spilled Jay Rodriguez’s effort.
Burnley would continue to dominate throughout the first half, prompting Mourinho into a double substitution at the break, the north London side reverting to a back four. Within five minutes of the interval, the change had already paid dividends, substitute Giovani Lo Celso earning Spurs a penalty which was duly slotted home by Dele Alli, his 50th Premier League goal.
Both sides would create a number of chances in the second half, Alli and Lo Celso seeing efforts go narrowly wide, while Hugo Lloris made a couple of vital saves at the other end, and speaking afterwards, Jose Mourinho was asked about his double substitution at half time which saw Tanguy Ndombele and Oliver Skipp replaced by Lo Celso and Lucas Moura.
“I think obviously that the quality and dynamic of Lucas and Lo Celso made a difference,” Mourinho told Sky Sports. “I want to say [more] but I cannot. We had something in the first half that we didn’t have in the second half.
“In the second half we improved a lot, but don’t ask me to tell any more because I cannot do it.”
Asked if his side were lacking heart and character in the first half, Mourinho threw plenty of criticism in the direction of Tanguy Ndombele, a player who has so far struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League since his big-money move from Lyon.
“No. I think fatigue, fatigue. Lucas had. Lo Celso had. Bergwijn had. Dele Alli had, and they gave what you saw. Don’t ask me much more than this.
“I was expecting players [who were] not tired to give more to the team. I think somebody has to realise that this is the Premier League, I think this is probably a new experience, and the first time he comes to Burnley, and I hope that next season that he can be fantastic because until now, it’s not enough.”
He added: “In the first half, I must work to try to improve, but coaches also need the players to cooperate in that work of their improvement.”
Further pressed on Ndombele, without his name ever being mentioned in the interview, Mourinho had yet another direct message.
“I hope that he uses every minute on the pitch, and every minute knowing what the Premier League is to improve.
😬 "I was expecting my players to not be tired and to give more to the team."
Jose Mourinho reacts to his Tottenham side's draw away at Burnley…
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) March 7, 2020
“There are many fantastic players that in first seasons in new countries for different reasons, they struggle. There are many, many, many examples of it.
“He is a player with a great talent, he has to know that he has to do much better, and he has to know that I cannot keep giving him opportunities to play, because the team is more important than the players. The players must be on the pitch as a consequence of their work. This is performance level football.”
Spurs will now attempt to overturn a 1-0 deficit to RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday night before they host fellow top-four rivals Manchester United next weekend.