Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho was left fuming with his team’s display on Thursday evening as they succumbed to their first defeat since the opening day of the new season.
The north Londoners squandered the lead in Group J after losing 1-0 in Belgium to Royal Antwerp. It was so bad that the Portuguese wanted to change his entire starting XI at the break.
He did, however, make a shock quadruple substitution, taking the likes of Dele Alli and Steven Bergiwjn off after a lacklustre opening 45.
In those changes, perhaps most surprisingly was Giovani Lo Celso, who was arguably the best player on the pitch in a white shirt. The fact that no other player, even those that played the entire duration, recorded a high rating (7.3) speaks volumes.
Per FotMob and SofaScore, the 24-year-old was still his creative self, delivering two key passes, but also quite industrious as he put in five tackles, made five recoveries and won 86% of his ground duels.
After he was withdrawn at the break, Spurs then failed to register a single attempt on target in the second half. They also recorded half the number of successful dribbles Antwerp could manage and lost possession 99 times – they missed the energetic Argentinian in the heart of the engine room.
Therefore, some of the blame must fall at the feet of Mourinho. It could have been a totally different game if the £31.5m-rated dynamo was kept on the pitch.
If he wanted Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s influence, then perhaps he should have dragged Harry Winks off, which would have allowed the £70k-per-week sensation to play a more natural advanced role.
This is the sort of star that Mourinho ought to be building his team around. That half-time calamity may only dent his morale and confidence now. It was a scandalously wrong call.
AND in other news, FORGET Alli, £36m-rated Spurs passenger should’ve been hooked instead…