‘Players are scared’ – Journalist blames Mourinho for Spurs players’ lack of creativity

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

The Telegraph’s chief football correspondent, Jason Burt has claimed that Jose Mourinho has created a culture of fear at Tottenham which is the main reason behind the North Londoners’ lack of creativity going forward.

After taking the lead in the first minute against Wolves, Spurs predictably decided to sit back and defend their lead with men behind the ball.

They hardly ventured into Wolves’ half in the second half and invited pressure, eventually paying for their lack of ambition as the home side equalised in the dying moments of the game, leaving Tottenham little time to get a winner.

Mourinho was not a happy man on Sunday, insisting in his post-match press conference that he had not told the players to sit back at half-time but they did not follow his instructions.

However, Burt believes that the Spurs boss has to take the blame for the fact that his attacking players are not taking risks, particularly after he publicly criticised Dele Alli last week for giving the ball away by trying a flick against Stoke City.

The journalist wrote in his column: “It is all about the Dele Alli flick that gave away a goal against Stoke City. Jose Mourinho called out Alli after the League Cup tie, spoke of his anger and of the player “creating problems for his own team”.

“Except Alli did not give away a goal, did he? His flick was a bad decision – there was a much less risky pass to make – but he did not give up on it, he then challenged a Stoke player, forcing the ball to be played back to the goalkeeper.

“Tottenham had plenty of time to re-set defensively before Jordan Thompson eventually scored the equaliser.

“Alli was substituted 13 minutes later, showed his pent-up anger, Spurs went on to win the quarter-final 3-1 in his absence and Mourinho was inevitably asked about the incident.

“Why does this matter? Imagine how Mourinho would have reacted had he still been the Manchester United manager when Bruno Fernandes gave the ball away, in a far more dangerous area, directly leading to Leicester City’s first goal in the 2-2 draw on Boxing Day?

“It would have been similar, and it is this kind of public upbraiding that comes to mind when watching Spurs against Wolverhampton Wanderers when they scored in the first minute and then grimly defended and tried to hold on which they failed to do.

“Afterwards Mourinho claimed these were not his instructions. But the way he sets up his team, the tactics he adopts, the substitutions he made, the tone he sets and the way he criticises players who make mistakes creates an inhibiting environment.

“It is fear first. Players are scared of making an error and Mourinho has always believed that the team that makes the fewest errors will win. He spoke about a lack of ‘ambition’ but does he encourage it when he is so quick to chastise and look for scapegoats?”

Spurs Web Opinion

The point Burt makes is a little unfair on Jose as it is not for taking risks that he criticised Dele Alli but for trying a needless flick when a rather straight-forward pass was on. However, his point about players being too rigid and fearful holds some merit. I believe Jose now needs to take the shackles off the likes of Kane, Son and Bergwijn by not burdening them with too many defensive responsibilities.

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