Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur
These are testing times and Tottenham are wobbling.
Fans are worrying. The Mourinho era offered new hope, a fresh approach, a plan-B. But after Leandro Trossard’s first-half goal condemned the Lilywhites to their fifth Premier League defeat of the season, a familiar feeling of discontent resurfaced amongst the N17 faithful.
Of course, it’s not all over. Spurs have a Carabao Cup final to look forward to. The Europa and FA Cup’s offer another potential pathway to silverware. But truth is, the fans want the big one – a league title.
Evolution takes time and Tottenham have moved in different directions under Mourinho. But sometimes it is difficult to locate what direction that exactly is as the North Londoners continue to trip, sometimes when you least expect them to.
Make no mistake, Brighton – hovering just above the dropzone – were the better side and fully deserve their victory. Some will point to Harry Kane’s injury-sabbatical, seemingly an annual occurrence at this time of year. Can Spurs win without him or is he the reason they can’t find a suitable system in his absence?
Whatever the reason, Spurs lost for the second successive match and now sit eleven points behind leaders Manchester City.
So why is the mindset at Spurs so fragile?: “I believe because the players are men and men have feelings, in spite of being top professionals, football is full of example of teams and players individually being in an incredible moment of confidence and in other periods they are suffering from self-esteem, a bad result, a bad performance,” Mourinho explained.
“You see that in individuals. You see the striker who is five, ten, fifteen games without scoring – then he looks like he’s not a top player but he is. You see a centre-back making incredible mistakes and you think he’s an awful player – he’s not.
“You see good teams look like bad teams and vice versa. So I think that it’s just human feelings.”
Mourinho continued: “As a coach, I always try to fight against that. I always try, in my personal case, a victory doesn’t put me in paradise and a defeat doesn’t put me in hell and I try to pass all of that to the players, but the reality is that at the beginning of the game it was very important to start well and we didn’t, so when these feelings were there and we concede a goal immediately in the beginning and before that they hit the post, I think the team was immediately struggling.
“But the good thing is that in the second, in spite of the defeat, of course, I saw a team with a different spirit, with players not leaving anything, with players not afraid to take the risks that we took.
“If you lose 2-0 or 3-0 you lose. But we go with everything we can and the boys did that in the second half.”
Spurs return to Premier League action on Thursday, February 4 when Chelse are the visitors to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (8pm). The Lilywhites then welcome West Bromwich Albion to N17 on Sunday 7 (Noon).
Brighton & Hove Albion: Sanchez, White, Dunk (Capt), Webster, Veltman (Burn 72’), Gross, Bissouma, Mac Allister, March, Trossard (Connolly 79’), Maupay (Lallana 79’) Subs not used: Walton, Moder, Alzate, Izquierdo, Tau, Zeqiri.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris (Capt), Sanchez (Vinicius 46’), Alderweireld, Rodon, Sissoko, Hojbjerg, Ndombele (Lamela 74’), Davies, Bergwijn, Son, Bale (Lucas 62’) Subs not used: Hart, Doherty, Dier, Tanganga, Winks, Devine.
Referee: Peter Bankes
Assistants: Neil Davies and James Mainwaring
Fourth Official: Simon Hooper
VAR: David Coote
Assistant VAR: Nick Hopton