Mourinho on whether he wants Spurs to have more possession against smaller sides

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Jose Mourinho
Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Jose Mourinho took the media to task for their misinterpretation of stats this week and insisted that having more possession than the opposition does not count for much in a game of football.

Against Liverpool, Tottenham predictably defended deep with men behind the ball and looked to hit their opponents on the counter-attack.

It was a tactic that almost worked as the home side did not create too many clear cut chances while Spurs spurned some great opportunities in the second half.

It is not just against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea that Mourinho’s men have played on the counter-attack, with his side also happy to concede possession to the likes of Brighton and Crystal Palace as well this season.

When asked whether he wants his side to dominate the ball against smaller sides or if he is happy to play on the counter in every match, Mourinho told Football.London: “You love the word possession, and you love the stats.

“When I say you, I don’t [mean] you [specifically], I mean you [the media] in general.

“It is a little bit like the efficiency of players and sometimes you say, ‘the stats say player B had 92 per cent of efficiency in his passing’ but the stats don’t say that player only made passes of only two metres.

“The stats they don’t say that the player was a centre-back who only passed to the other centre-back, or a number six who only passed to a number eight.

“Then the guy that had 65 per cent of efficiency on his passing is the guy that made the assist, is the guy that makes the adept passes, is the guy that makes 60m passes to change the direction of the play.

“So the stats many, many times are like an incredible piece of meat or fish but badly cooked. It doesn’t tell me much. What it tells me is the number of goals you score and the number of chances that you create.

“So you can have less time with the ball but score more goals than the opponent and create more chances, create better chances but for some reason not to score the goals in relation to this.

“This is for me the fundamental thing. In relation to the way we play or try to play sometimes it’s our own decision, sometimes our game plan, other times it is the opponent that creates that situation.

“For example, against Crystal Palace in the first 20-25 minutes of the second half, not at all that we tried to play in that way.

“In fact, we did exactly the opposite of the game plan that we tried to do in that period, so sometimes the game goes in a direction where the responsibility is the opponent and it is in these situations that I am always supportive of my players when the opponent, in some moment, is just better than you and force you to play in a way like you don’t want to do it.”

The Tottenham boss also explained that there is no one way that he likes his team to play and that his tactics often depend on his team’s strengths and weaknesses in comparison to the opposition’s.

He added: “I like everything in football. I like organised attack, I like football with more transitions, I like to defend with a high block, I like to defend with a low block.

“It depends on the circumstances, it depends on the opponent, it depends on your players, it depends on your weaknesses, too, because to know your weaknesses is also a very, very important thing.

“When sometimes I see people in the lower divisions trying to play the way the top players do in the top leagues and then to make incredible mistakes because they have not enough quality to play that way, I just feel in this moment that is wrong.

“So you have also to know your own weaknesses and I promise you that even the best coaches and best analysts analysing my team and my players, nobody knows better than I do our own weaknesses. That is also a very important thing.”

Spurs Web Opinion

When Jose talks about our weaknesses, I suspect he is referring to the ability of our central defenders to defend one vs one situations or their lack of recovery pace when the ball is played in-behind them. Perhaps that one is one of the reasons that we tend to play a fairly low block irrespective of the opposition we come up against.

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