"It's just a disgrace. I hope everyone in the changing room feels responsible."
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 18, 2021
Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris has said his team’s Europa League exit after a 3-0 defeat at Dinamo Zagreb was a “disgrace” and reflected deeper issues at the club. Do go on, Hugo.
“I think we are all more than disappointed, it is just a disgrace,” Lloris said in a post-match interview with BT Sport. “I just hope everyone in the changing room feels responsible for this situation because it is a disgrace … The taste of the defeat is more than painful and we are all responsible for that.”
Well, yeah, Hugo, I’d hope as captain that you let everyone in the changing room know that. That is your role, after all.
Jose Mourinho accused his players of lacking professionalism – well, his team did lose to a side coached by a man who is in prison – and Lloris echoed the manager’s comments.
“The way we play is just not enough,” the Frenchman said. “One thing is to come in front of the camera and say, ‘I’m ambitious’. The other thing is to show every day in training sessions and to show every time on the pitch.
“You cannot let it down if you play or you don’t play. To behave as a team is the most difficult thing in football. Whatever the decision of the manager, you have to follow the way of the team. If you follow the team only when you are in the starting XI it causes big problems for the team because you pay.
“You are going to pay in your season and today I think is a consequence of that. We had a great moment in the past because we could trust the togetherness that was in the team. Today, I’m not sure about that.”
This is interesting stuff. I want to believe that it is Mourinho, and Mourinho only, at fault for Tottenham’s current woes, but clearly the players could be doing a lot more too. Ultimately that is on Jose, of course (and Daniel Levy above him) – he should inspire his players to reach their potential. As I wrote yesterday, in his latter career he has an abysmal track record when it comes to improving players under him. Long gone are the days when he had his army of Cech, Terry, Lampard and Drogba going into battle for him.
Lloris does not explicitly blame his manager here, but when he says “Whatever the decision of the manager, you have to follow the way of the team”, I read between the lines and sense some dissatisfaction with Mourinho’s playing style. There has to be – watch the way Spurs played against Arsenal on Sunday, and Zagreb last night, and there is no joy or adventure there, only pragmatism borne out of fear.
There are bigger issues at play here. Everything stems from Levy and his shiny new stadium. I read a superb comment by ‘strangeboy’ under the Guardian’s Zagreb v Spurs match report, which sums up better than I can why Spurs are in this situation:
The other day on an article here where Levy’s 20 year anniversary was mentioned, I suggested one paltry league cup in twenty long years represents an awful return. I pointed out that when I’m following this team up and down the country, its not a flashy training ground and state of the art on site brewery at the new ground we sing about. It’s (long since past) glories, its players, its moments. That’s what we care about. New stadium is no guarantee of success – ask our mates down the road (and even they’ve got some FA Cups for it).
I was shot down. Most Spurs fans here don’t seem to care about winning stuff. Some even wheeled out the eye rollingly reductive argument about not wanting to bankrupt the club by spending like Man City, as if there was no middle ground between that and our relatively pitiful level of player investment in recent years.
So long as fans are happy to turn up at our new stadium, sit in a slightly comfier seat, and tolerate the highest paid chairman in the league delivering us NOTHING for our investment, this will be the norm for Tottenham Hotspur. We are a lavishly wealthy club, had ample opportunity to push under Redknapp, under Poch, but instead contented ourselves with turning healthy profits year in year out to pay Levy his enormous salary and return ENIC some bumper profits.
Congratulations, you’ve got yours Spurs back. Personally, I’m furious with this club and it’s hierarchy for allowing us to drift into this mess.