Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 Olympiacos – Reaction
JOSE MOURINHO overcame a rollercoaster ride of an opening home match as Tottenham Hotspur manager then heaped praise on the supporters who stuck by his side after they had made a difficult start.
Spurs eventually sealed their UEFA Champions League qualification, with Harry Kane bagging a brace, while Dele Alli and Serge Auier also found the net. However, after twenty minutes of this cracking tie with Olympiacos, the Greek champions found themselves two goals to the good, leaving the N17 faithful with a severe case of deja vu.
But the new chief acted quickly, hooking Eric Dier and throwing on Christian Eriksen inside half an hour in a bid to salvage the tie. The tactical change certainly paid dividends as Spurs hit back with a vengeance to ensure their progress.
“The fans were fantastic because the reaction was to not put more pressure on them,” Mourinho enthused.
“It was really to support them. Then the way they reacted to the second half, the preparation of the second half, they came from behind, to go with everything and knowing that a draw would give us qualification because Bayern were winning, we knew that.
“So the draw wouldn’t have been a drama because we’d qualify, but not to accept the draw, to go for more, go for the victory, go in search of not just the qualification, but in search of happiness and self-esteem and confidence and we did that.”
The Portuguese explained that the early substitution was tough on Dier, but necessary to change the course of the tie:“The first thing – the most difficult moment for me – was not when Olympiacos the first or second goal – the most difficult moment for me was when I made the change in the first half,” he said.
“It hurt the player but it hurt myself. It’s not easy for the player nor easy for myself.
It’s important that the player understood and I was lucky that my choice was a very intelligent boy who has a very good understanding of what the team is because I did it for the team.
“It was not about his performance. It was about what the team needs. We are losing 2-0 and in a very difficult situation at that moment and I felt in that moment that one positional midfielder was more than enough.”
The former Chelsea and Manchester United chief continued: “I thought I needed a second creative player who could play with Alli in that triangle – an open triangle as I used to call it – not a closed triangle like we were with Dier and Harry Winks. So I had to do it for the team and I apologise to Eric despite him knowing that I did it for the team and not with any intention to hurt him.
“I think the fans also understood that. I did it for the team and in the end, the team is the most important thing. Christian gave us what we needed at that time.”
On the game itself, Mourinho added: “I don’t think I learned. I think we went through some phases where we can make some conclusions. At the start, some of them were really tired.
“I think to come from the national team and play on Saturday and then Tuesday, I always wish that after the national teams you play on the Sunday and the Wednesday.
“When you do Saturday and Tuesday it’s hard. I think some of them were tired. Then I think the fact of conceding an early goal at home they were not in a moment of great self-esteem where you think – okay, 1-0, no problem, we keep playing. There was a bit of that feeling among the players.
“Next game at home I expect the boys to start without ghosts, to start immediately open and confident because the players are very, very good players. So we have to play better than we did in the first half.”