A quietly furious José Mourinho said his players were to blame for allowing Arsenal loanee Joe Willock to score a late equaliser that salvaged a point for Newcastle and frustrated Tottenham’s hopes of moving into the top four.
Mourinho – who also revealed he had left Toby Alderweireld and Serge Aurier in London for the 2-2 draw as the two defenders did not return from international duty in time to take the mandatory Covid tests – claimed Spurs “create instability to ourselves” after two goals from Harry Kane had seemed to put them on course to move above Chelsea in the table.
When it was pointed out his teams are usually good at defending leads , the Tottenham manager responded: “Same coach, different players. There are mistakes which I probably shouldn’t even call mistakes because they are related to qualities that players have.”
On Alderweireld and Aurier, who were on international duty with Belgium and Ivory Coast respectively last week, he added: “They were fit but they were not selected because they only came to training yesterday. They didn’t make the Covid tests in time.” Asked if indiscipline prompted this lack of punctuality, Mourinho turned characteristically opaque. “I don’t want to say indiscipline, I don’t want to say discipline,” he said.
Spurs defender Davinson Sánchez later revealed he had been subjected to racial abuse on social media after his mistake led to Newcastle’s first goal. He posted a picture on his Instagram Stories after the match showing a series of monkey emojis that he had been sent, and wrote “Nothing changes” alongside a sleeping emoji.
“It’s a bad result,” added Mourinho. “I’m not being disrespectful to Newcastle but that was a match to win. We made so many mistakes it led to instability and that led to hope in the opposition. We were very good in some moments but the game belongs to every moment and I cannot separate this game from those moments of instability. We had chances to kill the game but that instability affected everything.”
Steve Bruce was somewhat happier as he dismissed suggestions of a divided dressing room. “That’s nonsense, the spirit is good,” said Newcastle’s manager whose side have won only two of their last 21 games in all competitions. “I’ve got no problems with the spirit, they’re a really good group but they don’t always play well. They need to be at full tilt to get something out of Premier League matches.”
Bruce recalled Matt Ritchie for the first time following a training ground altercation. “Matty played very well,” he said. “I never hold a grudge – our row is forgotten. That’s the best we’ve played for a long, long time, so there’s a tinge of disappointment we didn’t win.”