Why Jose Mourinho has himself to blame for Tottenham Hotspur’s Europa League exit

Tottenham Hotspur have crashed out of the 2020-21 Europa League.
Tottenham Hotspur have crashed out of the 2020-21 Europa League.
Modified 19 Mar 2021

Tottenham Hotspur have been eliminated from the 2020-21 Europa League after suffering a 3-0 defeat at Dinamo Zagreb in their Round of 16 second leg. Spurs were atrocious on the night and were deservedly beaten.

This was a game that had everything set for Tottenham Hotspur to progress to the next stage, but they squandered it big time. After recording a 2-0 win in the first leg at home, Jose Mourinho’s side were primed to reach the quarter-finals.

However, a sensational hat-trick from Mislav Orsic saw Dinamo Zagreb overturn the tie in incredible fashion to record a 3-2 aggregate win.

For Tottenham Hotspur, this was further evidence of their lack of winning mentality and character. Considering Spurs' struggles in the Premier League, winning the Europa League was their only realistic route to qualify for the Champions League next season, but that opportunity is now gone.

Tottenham Hotspur produce a lifeless performance in Zagreb

Following his team’s abject performance against Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday evening, manager Jose Mourinho apologised to the club's fans.

Aside from allowing a 2-0 lead from the first leg slip away, the performance of Tottenham Hotspur was nothing to write home about. They were completely outplayed, out-thought and out-fought by the Croatian side.

Tottenham lacked character and failed to match the intensity of Dinamo Zagreb. The North London side played as if nothing was at stake and were made to pay for their lethargy.

That was quite unlike a team coached by Mourinho, and the Portuguese may have felt helpless and hapless on the bench as he watched his side being torn to pieces in 120 minutes.

Tottenham Hotspur were so dismal on the day that their goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris described the teams performance as 'disgraceful'. This probably will rank among the club’s worst games in the last decade.

Jose Mourinho must take blame for Tottenham Hotspur’s Europa League exit

Jose Mourinho sounded like a broken record in his post-match press conference. The Portuguese did not necessarily hang his players to dry but called them out for their lack of attitude and desire.

"In the 90 minutes and in the first half of extra-time, there was one team that decided to leave everything on the pitch. They left everything there - they left sweat, energy, blood, and at the end of the game, they had even tears of happiness,” Mourinho admitted after the game, as quoted by Sky Sports.

The Tottenham Hotspur boss continued in this regard:

“My team didn't look they were playing an important match. But for me, it is for the respect I have for my own career and my own job. Every match is an important match for me, and I believe that for every Tottenham fan at home, every match matters, and another attitude is needed (from th team).”

While everything Mourinho said was true, he also deserves to share the blame for this humiliating defeat. After winning the first leg 2-0, the Portuguese seemed to have underestimated his opponents.

He rested several of his key players with the thinking that the tie was already over. Aside from Harry Kane, who was in the starting line-up, Gareth Bale, Tanguy Ndombele, Lucas Moura and Sergio Reguillon were all on the bench.

In their stead, a couple of fringe players started against the Croatian side. But as fate would have it, Mourinho came to rue his decision, as Dinamo Zagreb were emphatically the better team on the night in Zagreb.

Published 19 Mar 2021
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