Tottenham is eighth in the Premier League and outside Europe. Next month’s league cup final could be the only chance to save something from their season.
Apologizing to Tottenham fans, Jose Mourinho said his players had “failed at the very basics” after throwing away a 2-0 lead to be eliminated from the Europa League by Dinamo Zagreb.
In a second leg described by their ex-player and manager Glenn Hoddle as “diabolical” and “a disaster”, Spurs were eliminated from Croatia after extra time in the last 16.
A hat-trick by Mislav Orsic caused the damage, reversing the comfortable lead Mourinho’s side had built in last week’s first leg, prompting Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to call the performance “a shame”.
“They [Dinamo] left sweat, energy, blood. In the end, they even left tears of happiness, “Mourinho told BT Sport.” They were very humble and dedicated. I have to praise them.
“On the other hand, my team – I repeat, my team – didn’t look like they were playing an important game. If it isn’t important to either of them, it is to me.
“I’m disappointed with the different attitudes of one team to the other. I’m sorry that my team brought not only the basics of football but also the basics of life into play in order to respect our jobs.” and give everything.
“I can only apologize to the Tottenham supporters. I hope they feel the same as me. Live or die today – and this is the moment we die.”
Tottenham, who relied on their 2-0 lead in the first leg, looked relatively comfortable in Zagreb for a little over an hour until Orsic’s first goal began to swing the tie away from them.
He equalized the draw with eight minutes of normal playing time and then won it for his team early in the second overtime.
Tottenham forced two good saves from home goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic late in the game, but it was too little, too late.
“Every game is important for the respect I have for my career and my job,” said Mourinho. “For every Tottenham fan at home, every game is important. A different attitude is required. What I feel is much more than sadness.
“I just left the Dinamo dressing room where I praised the guys and I’m sorry my team didn’t win the game because of their attitude and compromise. I’m more than sad.
“Football is not just about players who believe they are more quality than others. The foundation of football is attitude. They beat us.”
“The team reflects what is going on in the club.”
France’s World Cup goalkeeper Lloris gave a brutally honest assessment of his team’s performance and an insight into the issues that are troubling the club.
“It’s a shame,” he told BT Sport. “I hope everyone in the locker room feels responsible. The taste of defeat is beyond pain and we are all responsible.
“We’re a club full of ambition, but the team at the moment reflects what’s going on in the club. Lack of fundamentals, lack of fundamentals. We should be stronger mentally and more competitive.”
“At this level you pay if you are not ready – and if you do not respect your opponent you will be punished. The fault lies with the entire team, the entire club. We are guilty.”
“The way we play just isn’t enough. One thing is to step in front of the camera and say I’m ambitious. The other is to show it every day. Acting as a team is the hardest thing in football.
“If you only follow the team in the starting XI it can be a big problem and today is the result.”
“We had great moments in the past because we could trust the togetherness in the team. Today I’m not sure about that.”
Tottenham have conceded no goals in 13 of their last 14 away games in the Europa League, including conceding all five such games under Jose Mourinho.
“They lost the plot and lost their heart too”
Former Tottenham player and manager Glenn Hoddle, who worked on the game as an expert on the game, was devastating.
“Mentally they got it wrong because of the game,” he said. “I said beforehand that if Zagreb scored I expected a reaction. That was Spurs’ chance to answer, but they went backwards.
“They went downhill instead of fighting. They should have improved the gears, but they didn’t.
“There is not enough quality in the team. Everyone has looked at each other. If that happens, it will be a disaster for a team.
“That night there wasn’t anyone who said they’d take responsibility and change the game. You need guidance, but they just looked at each other.
“You lost the conspiracy, but you lost your heart too.”
Her former striker Peter Crouch, who sat next to Hoddle, was no less critical.
“They haven’t appeared in two games,” he said, also referring to the Premier League loss to Arsenal on Sunday.
“You talk about seeing a reaction when you miss a goal, but we’ve seen players hide. Easy passes aren’t made, there’s no creativity.
“The goalkeeper made some good saves, but Zagreb were the better team and deserved to come through. You are wondering where Spurs’ season is going now.”
“The season hangs by a thread”
Harry Kane has scored 26 goals in all competitions for Spurs this season
So where is Tottenham’s season going?
They are still in the running for a top four finish in the Premier League and qualifying for next season’s Champions League. However, with a gap of six points in eighth and fourth places in Chelsea, they can afford few more mistakes.
They also have the Carabao Cup final in April but will start as the underdogs of Pep Guardiola’s in shape leaders Manchester City.
“The club is at a crossroads this season,” said Hoddle. “Yes, they could beat Manchester City in the League Cup final, but you just can’t turn it on at Wembley in a Cup final. It would save the season, but if not, where will this season end?”
“Jose was made to win cutlery. If he wins it could be a stepping stone. You are absolutely miles away from it, but you have to be optimistic.”
Crouch was also concerned about the club’s long-term direction and its ability to retain its best players – particularly captain and top scorer Harry Kane.
“Your season is hanging by a thread,” he said. “If I see Harry Kane stomp away, he shouldn’t even be in this competition.
“That’s the worrying thing: what’s his head – players who deserve to be at a higher level than the Europa League? Games like this certainly don’t help.
“It was an honest interview [from Mourinho] and there were no clothes. He questioned the attitudes of the players.
“The players got involved and thought they would make it. I don’t think they can help this season. In the shape of the last two games, they are a long way from the top four. So where are they?
“It’s not a successful season.”
What did you say…
Siff: Jose has to be done after this passive and shy presentation and after Sunday he can’t do anything with this squad. Let Ledley [King] Manage against Villa and replace Jose over the international break.
Lee: I don’t care how much it costs us, Mourinho has to go after tonight. This is more than a joke.
Angelo Lambo: At this point, I’m honestly happy if we lose just so Mourinho has a higher chance of getting the sack.
Andy: How many beeps can I use to describe this godly feat by Spurs. I hope Levy is happy with his appointment from Mourinho.
Steve, the embarrassed Spurs fan: What about the players who were weak in both attitude and application?
Mark Burt: Spore fans can take Jose to the cows that come home, but the spinelessness of the players is up to them. Managers can provide a game plan, but they cannot teach a bottle.
Matt, a Spurs fan who dies inside: SACK MOURINHO NOW !!!!!!!!