Jose Mourinho has admitted that Tanguy Ndombele’s path at Tottenham Hotspur was heading in the wrong direction.
The club’s signing experienced a testing first year at the club and also had to endure a disjointed pre-season due to injury and illness, with Mourinho carefully managing the midfielder’s schedule.
Ndombele played 90 minutes for the first time in 2020 on Thursday evening when Spurs beat Shkendija 3-1 in the Europa League third qualifying round and was just the second time he had completed a full match since Mourinho took over from Mauricio Pochettino last November.
The French international has expressed his delight in the turnaround from what he has seen by the 23-year-old and praised the impact he had on the match in North Macedonia which set up Spurs’ opportunity to face Maccabi Haifa in the play off round of the Europa League.
He told Football.London: “I’m very happy. I say all the time, when a player improves it’s a player’s responsibility, it’s the player’s credit, it’s not the coach who makes the miracle,”
“The player that does that by himself, to understand what he has to understand and go in the right direction that he has to go.
“Tanguy, step by step, is doing very well. Today, he played 90 minutes. Why? Also, because we have the ball, I don’t have the data numbers, but we had the ball a big percentage of the time and of course it was easier for him to be on the pitch for 90 minutes.
“Even so, he was good and brought a very good dynamic to the team, he managed to recover some balls, managed to make an effort in defensive transitions, and of course it was a positive game for him.”
Mourinho claimed that he did not hold a one-on-one meeting with Ndombele to try and turn his career around at the club, he added: “No, I just think that he felt the direction which it was going was not the right one and it’s something that players with me, they feel all of the time that I don’t give positions for free,” explained the Portuguese.
“The players have to fight, they have to perform, I would never give him a place in the team because he was an expensive buy or because he’s an important player.
“He has to do that by himself, probably with the help of his colleagues, with the help of his team-mates, he went in a good direction.
“Let’s wait and see, Premier League matches are much more difficult matches than this one. The intensity is completely different, the quality of the opponent is much better, but against Southampton, even for 45 minutes, he had positive things.”
Mourinho suggested that Ndombele’s situation and impressive turnaround could be an example for Dele Alli, who has recently struggled for game time.
“Yes, that’s what I want. I don’t want players to moan, I don’t want players to be feel frustrated, I don’t want players to feel that I have something against them when I don’t pick them up,” Mourinho added.
“I want players to fight for the minutes that they want to be on the pitch and when you play for Tottenham, you have to understand that Tottenham wants to be better and better and the rewards are going to be better and better and the players cannot have a comfortable position on the pitch.
“They have to be ready to fight for the minutes they want to be on the pitch.”
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