Jose Mourinho criticised his Tottenham players for “lazy pressing” in the defeat to Everton and questioned their fitness.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s superb second-half header gave Everton an impressive opening away win against Tottenham on Super Sunday.
Mourinho’s Tottenham were “lifeless, flat” and “walking around the pitch sulking” for large chunks of the second half, said Sky Sports‘ Gary Neville on commentary, with Spurs registering just nine tackles to Everton’s 18, and Harry Kane touching the ball only twice in the Everton box.
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Mourinho could not hide his frustration with the performance, highlighting his team’s lack of intensity without the ball in the final third as a key component in the defeat.
He told Sky Sports: “The struggle started in the way we pressed or, I will say, in the way we didn’t press because our pressure up was very poor.
“I would say it was lazy pressure and when you have lazy pressure, you don’t press and you let opponents build from the back and then they have players with incredible quality, which is not just Everton, it’s almost everybody in the Premier League. When you let them play from the back then they are comfortable with the ball.
“In spite of that, I repeat, in the first half we had some good moments and we created some good chances. I think the Doherty chance is a big one and a sequence of a great moment of football, but Pickford was there and made a great save also to keep out Alli’s shot.
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He added: “Lazy pressure. Lazy pressure up front, that is what I am saying, and that creates unbalanced situations for the rest of the team.
“I could also feel that some of my players are not fit. Matt [Doherty] was struggling to play the way he plays and the way you want him to play, as an example.
“We also had other players that were a little bit in trouble from a physical point of view. Two very strange pre-seasons for some and in other cases not even a pre-season, but congratulations to my dear friend Carlo and the Everton boys.”
Dele Alli was hooked at half-time by Mourinho after an ineffective performance – a decision the Spurs boss confirmed was a tactical one with Moussa Sissoko replacing him.
“Yes, tactical,” Mourinho said.
“They were playing with only one pivot. Allan was in that position and Gomes and Doucoure were pressing high. There was lots of space behind this pressure, there was lots of space to play in behind in these areas and I needed more in there, which were also not able to get in the second half.”
Everton’s winning goal came via a left-wing set-piece that was met superbly by Calvert-Lewin, who got above Eric Dier, and his bullet header found the top left corner, leaving Hugo Lloris rooted. Mourinho was seen complaining that the free-kick had been taken four yards ahead of where the foul took place, but his protests were ignored by the officials.
“In the second half they scored the goal, which I think was a bit strange,” Mourinho added.
“It’s not an excuse for the result, it’s not an excuse for the defeat, it’s not an excuse for not a good performance but with so many referees on the pitch and on the line, to take a free kick with a minimum of five metres distance, I find it incredible because before the goal, I was already saying it to the referees. Five metres on the crossing situation makes a huge difference in the position of our back line and in the direction of the cross.
“But I don’t want to stay too much on these things.”
Analysis: Kane frustrated, no creativity
Sky Sports’ Jamie Redknapp:
“There are a few problems if we are honest.
“Matt Doherty, for example. You sign a player who has played all his career at Wolves as a wing-back and then you play him in a back four. For some, that might not seem a lot or that much of a difference but it totally is.
“In midfield, there was hardly any creativity. I didn’t see anyone getting hold of the ball and playing the game at tempo.
“I could see the frustration in Harry Kane, I could see the frustration in Son, but l didn’t see any intensity to try to get the ball back.
“This is only week one and we need to be careful. Højbjerg didn’t have his best game, but it is his debut and l don’t want to jump into his nightmare. When he gets his fitness and plays more games, l hope he will improve. But when l look at what Spurs need, is he the sort of player they need? It looks like it is very easy to play against that Tottenham midfiled in every aspect.”
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