‘Ball possession story is more for sports philosophers’ – Mourinho hits back at critics

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Jose Mourinho has hit out at those who are critical of Tottenham Hotspur’s style of play by admitting that it is far more important to him what his team does when they have the ball rather than to keep possession just for the sake of it.

Tottenham hit Arsenal with two excellent counter-attacks that were finished off brilliantly by Son Heung-min and Harry Kane in the first half to give themselves a comfortable cushion going into half-time.

Spurs then preferred to defend with men behind the ball in the second half and were happy to let Arsenal have the ball in non-threatening areas, with the Gunners struggling to break down the stubborn Tottenham defence.

Some pundits were critical of Tottenham’s style of play, while Mikel Arteta insisted that his side had dominated the game.

When asked if he would adapt his tactics to ensure his side retain more possession, Mourinho said in an interview with Brazilian journalist Renato Senise (as translated by Sport Witness): “Well, this ball possession story is more for sports philosophers than it’s for me. No one has ever seen me say ‘I lost that game but I had more possession’. You never saw me say anything like that. You may have heard me say ‘we lost that game, we didn’t deserve to lose, we had more opportunities than the opponent’. You can hear me say that.

“But you never heard me say in 20 years ‘we lost that game and the opponent had more ball possession than we did’. What matters is what you do with the ball. Whatever you want to do with the ball. And with the ball, we scored two fantastic goals today. And when we had it, we never lost it in conditions where the opponent could hurt us.”

When asked if he was proving his critics wrong after their allegations that he was past his best, the Tottenham boss responded: “When people said my peak was over, I won three titles at that club. So my peak passed, I won a Cup, a Super Cup and a Europa League. It was at the moment that my peak passed. Imagine others who never get that.

“I’m calm, I’m happy. Obviously, Tottenham are Tottenham, people are not used to it (being at the top of the table). But I’m used to it. And maybe that feeling of deja-vu, this situation of having already lived these positions many times, maybe it helps to reassure the players.”

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