Jose Mourinho has admitted that he felt bad for Joe Hart since the goalkeeper did not get an opportunity to play against Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday, admitting that making eleven changes to the side would not have sent out the right signal to his players.
Mourinho decided to rotate both the full-backs, the central midfielders, while also bringing Erik Lamela and Dele Alli into the starting line up.
Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Davinson Sanchez and Hugo Lloris were the only four players who kept their place from Spurs’ 4-1 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday.
In the end, the Tottenham boss’ decision was vindicated as the players who came into the team put in very good displays to help Spurs to a comfortable 2-0 win.
One of the positions that Mourinho was asked about ahead of the North London Derby was right-back, with Serge Aurier coming into the side in place of Matt Doherty against Zagreb and staking his claim for a place in the starting eleven for Sunday with a fine performance.
Doherty too has been in good form over recent weeks, with Mourinho even describing the former Wolves man’s performance against the Eagles as impeccable.
When asked about the choice he has between Doherty and Aurier, Mourinho told Football.London: “That’s amazing. They’re both playing well and that’s what I want and need, and that’s what the team needs.
“Ben Davies and [Sergio] Reguilon [too]. I’m just talking about the full-backs but the reason why [against Dinamo] we changed seven players from the last match was because I trust all the guys.
“The last time I did this, we lost against Antwerp and everybody was killing me, and rightly so, because I made these decisions but in that match I felt a little let down by attitude and it was a moment where not everybody was working well and hard and trying to play.
“I change seven in a very important match [now] and I did it because of trust. To be honest I didn’t change 11 because I didn’t want to give the team a feeling of it’s too much or I’m gambling or something like that because I could have perfectly changed.
“I felt bad for my decision not to play Joe Hart, one of the best goalkeepers in this country, no doubt one of the best English goalkeepers.
“I didn’t want to play him not because of a question of trust but more because of a feeling to the dressing room that I couldn’t change 11 players, the game is difficult.
“I have everybody. The question was about Serge and Matt but I went in other directions with my answer, but the reality is we have that, we have everybody playing well.”
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Mourinho has certainly shuffled his pack very impressively over the last couple of weeks. The likes of Winks, Doherty and Moura were terrific against Palace on Sunday, while Lamela, Aurier, Davies and Sissoko showed yesterday that they are reliable when called upon.
I suspect the only negative for Jose would be the fact that Kane had to play 85 minutes ahead of the North London derby. Jose would have likely wanted to bring him off around the hour mark but the fact the game was finely poised meant that he had to keep the striker on until the latter stages.
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