Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho has hinted he may have lost faith with his squad’s fringe players after a rotated Spurs team suffered a surprise Europa League defeat to Belgian side Royal Antwerp on Thursday evening.
There was a rare start for Dele Alli, who has been overlooked by Mourinho for much of this season, while the likes for Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Eric Dier, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Toby Alderweireld and Lucas Moura either started on the bench or were left out altogether.
Spurs went behind after half an hour and were never able to claw the deficit back. Despite enjoying the majority of the possession and having 15 attempts at goal, only two were on target.
Mourinho hooked Dele, Steven Bergwijn, Carlos Vinicius and Giovanni Lo Celso at half-time and declared afterwards he would have made 11 changes there and then if he could.
The Spurs boss suggested the game effectively doubled as a test or audition for some of the fringe players to see how they responded, but it appears that at least a few of them failed it.
“I don't want to analyse individuals. I don't like to do that. 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,” he said, as quoted by BBC Sport.
“My future choices are going to be very easy,” the Portuguese added in an ominous way.
“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.”
Mourinho also made no effort to hide his frustration with his players on social media, posting on Instagram in no uncertain terms that ‘Bad performances deserve bad results’.
Despite travelling back from Belgium, he also confirmed there will be no rest and demanded that his players report for training at 11am on Friday morning.