The boat has been rocked: Royal Antwerp 1 Spurs 0 (a big fat zero)
My thoughts before we go into the match.
We were knocked sideways by a poor performance and being beaten by a team we should have taken full control over and then throttled at the beginning. However, Jose Mourinho got it right when he said: “my future choices are going to be very easy”. One of those players that must be in his sight is Dele Alli. He’s had a couple of good seasons and then suddenly dropped away (and he has struggled ever since). In the documentary on Spurs, he was called lazy and didn’t train well. I can’t see him lasting much longer at the club if he doesn’t pull his finger out of his arse.
Mourinho made four changes at half-time after appearing to lose patience with some of his fringe players in Belgium. He did say afterwards he would have liked to make 11 changes, which tells you everything.
Dele Alli, Steven Bergwijn, Giovani lo Celso and Carlos Vinicius were all replaced at the break, although the changes did not salvage a point. Alli has started three matches this season and been replaced at half-time in two of them. This was the first time he had been in the starting XI for more than a month. When Mourinho was asked about Alli, he responded with, “I don’t want to analyse individuals. I don’t like to do that.” That is him being polite, but I bet he would have loved to have throttled him and a few others.
Mourinho went on and said, “We have a big squad with lots of good players. It’s my responsibility to give them opportunities to play and catch the chance with both hands and be in condition to ask for more. And tonight my future choices are going to be very easy.” He’s spotted the ones that have let him down, and they will be sent to Coventry (not literally… but then again…). Kick some arse Jose, kick-arse and show them you are pissed. No nice guy here.
As I said Mourinho did not name-check Alli who, despite creating one chance for Vinicius, looked low on confidence. Gareth Bale is yet to complete a full game since rejoining us after being replaced by Harry Kane in the second half.
What pissed me off and probably every fan in the world is that we were looking to end October unbeaten after winning four and drawing one of our preceding five games, scoring 20 goals in the process.
But we did produce an uninspiring performance and failed to register a single attempt on target in the second period.
As I said earlier, he was pissed, to encapsulate his anger he posted a picture on the Internet of himself sitting on the team coach – by himself – after the game with the message: “Hope everyone in this bus is as upset as I am. Tomorrow 11am training.”
Straight after the game, he didn’t want to talk about his squad, but instead said, “I prefer to praise the opponents because they played a magnificent game and not to blame ourselves because we played an awful game. But I have to do both at the same time. Blame me because I am the boss, and it is my responsibility who plays. But I have to admit that the game confirmed to me a few things, opened other question marks and will help me in the future with my decisions. I’m also learning every day.”
That is one pissed hombre. I can imagine that the next day he lined up all those players he’s pissed off with and one by one – as he walks by them – kicks them severely in the nuts until they realise the errors of their ways (ok, not literally!). That’s the spirit, instil discipline in a slagging-staggering –squad (again a bit harsh). I think that tells you how pissed off I am as well. I’ve said we can win the league and other trophies, but not the way we played in that game.
To the match:
We slipped to our first away defeat since July after a mistake by none other than Ben Davies, who helped Royal Antwerp leapfrog us to go top of Group J. Davies was making his 200th appearance for us, was easily robbed by Dieumerci Mbokani, whose pass allowed Lior Refaelov to smash past Hugo Lloris.
We were Flat and unimaginative as we struggled to carve out chances, so Mourinho made four changes at the start of the second half in an attempt to insert some earnestness into his side, but sadly, it didn’t work.
But it could have been worse, as they might have if Mbokani, somehow blazing over from three yards out before Harry Kane was sent on in an attempt to rescue the game. Simen Juklerod also missed a slight chance for the hosts after being sent clean through as we failed to score for the first time since the opening weekend of the season.
We are three points behind Royal Antwerp in Group J after two games, level on points with Austrian side LASK, who beat Ludogorets 4-3.
Having gone on a 10-match unbeaten run since losing at home to Everton on the opening weekend of the season, this was as bad as we have performed in a long time.
Steven Bergwijn and Giovani lo Celso did manage attempts before the interval, but both were efficiently dealt with by their keeper Jean Butez.
Kane brought on and replaced Bale:
Kane replaced Gareth Bale, who has also yet to complete 90 minutes since rejoining us at the start of the season. He is still trying to reach peak fitness after missing several games, but there was little creativity from him.
Kane and Son have scored 20 goals between them this season, but even their introductions from the bench failed to ignite the team, they were unable to test the home keeper at all in the second half.
This was Jose Mourinho’s first defeat in a Europa League game since November 2016, ending a 12-match unbeaten run for the Portuguese manager in the competition.
We have never won away to Belgian opposition (P6 D2 L4), losing on each of our past three visits.
Royal Antwerp are the first Belgian side to beat English opposition in European competition since KAA Gent beat Tottenham in the Europa League in February 2017.
If Mourinho was to write a report card out, it must say something like “The team has to improve, or there is the door. Their futures are at stake. As for you Dele… bye!” A bit harsh, but there can be no room for slackers at Tottenham. We’ve been too easy for too long. Now we must see the mean and beastly Mourinho getting his machetes out and roasting a few over a hot spit for the others to gorge on. May be accompanied by the chants of, “You are now smoking! Just how I like my players to be!!!!”
Yes, all said in good fun… or was it!?
We are back in action on Sunday when we host Brighton in the Premier League (19:15 GMT).
So, that’s it… bollockings all around and I hope that bucks them all up; they’ve got silverware to collect on their journey through this season (I hope!).