In a game that requires eleven players from each team at a time, it is impossible for everyone to play. So it is there impossible for every player to be on the field at the same time – such was the comment asserted by Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho after leading his team to a 2-0 win over Royal Antwerp to progress to the Europa League last 32 as Group J winners.
The Portuguese tactician has been recording massive results, having taken Spurs to the top of the Premier League.
Mourinho had to loan out some players, knowing fully well that it is impossible to keep his whole squad happy after a largely second-string Spurs side beat the Belgian club. Despite that, some are still unhappy in the squad due to lack of match time.
Mourinho has stuck to a consistent first XI in the Premier League this season, and he has gotten results with them.
But on Thursday he rested key players like Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son to give Gareth Bale, Carlos Vinicius and Harry Winks and other fringe players some minutes. The duo later cam back on the second half to inspire them to victory.
Vinicius took advantage of the opportunity as he tapped in the opener after visiting goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand palmed Bale’s dipping, long-range free-kick on to the post.
Giovani lo Celso, who was the best player on the pitch, capped his display with a neat finish for the second, laid on by Kane.
But the Harry Winks departed down the tunnel straight after being substituted, and Dele Alli, who did not feature at all and also left the bench briefly after Mourinho had made his fifth and final change. The duo looked frustrated on Thursday.
“I can’t keep the squad happy. 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 happy and if you go to every club people who don’t play aren’t happy.”
O”Let’s not run away from reality. 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.”
Mourinho likely to stick with starting eleven
No manager will want to change a winning team. So, it is therefore expected that Mourinho will stick to his team formation.
After topping their Europa League group, Spurs which is also topping the Premier League table with 24 points after 11 games have their next schedule – a trip Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace on Sunday. It is believed that Mourinho will start Kane and Son again.
Alli and Winks have started just four games each this season and they have not been impressive. The former started in the first game of the Premier League season, while the latter’s was in September.
Once Kane and Son were introduced, there was more intensity in Spurs attack on Thursday. This resulted in the second goal that sealed the win.
After winning group, Tottenham will be in the seeded pot for Monday’s draw. This is expected to bring them a more favourable tie in the last 32. Antwerp will join them as unseeded group runners-up.
🗣 "One thing we did well was press them high and keep them away from our defensive area."— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 10, 2020
Jose on tonight's win ⤵️#UEL ⚪️ #COYS pic.twitter.com/1w7a1HayYc
Antwerp had beaten a very lacklustre Spurs in the reverse fixture in October. Mourinho made four changes at half-time and voiced his displeasure about it afterwards.
Tottenham was better than that on Thursday but recorded a dour performance during the first half that yielded few chances. This was the little evidence that those on the periphery of the first team are deserving of a Premier League start.
Once again on Thursday, Spurs’ second string was able to take the lead thanks to Vinicius’ third Tottenham goal, but Mourinho had to turn to his attacking big guns almost immediately to ensure the win and top the group.
“The game is open, when I thought about the changes the result was 0-0 then we scored a goal but that didn’t change my mind.
“We needed a little bit more of routines which these players (Kane, Son and Tanguy Ndombele) 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 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.”