Inside Tottenham’s camp after learning news of Jose Mourinho’s sacking
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Toby Alderweireld has rubbished talk that Tottenham players were glad to see the back of Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese boss was suddenly sacked on Monday – just six days before this afternoon’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester City – leaving many questioning if a divided dressing room was to blame.
However, Alderweireld is adamant that Mourinho's relationship with his squad remained intact till the end despite public fall-outs with star names such as Dele Alli and Gareth Bale.
In an honest assessment of Mourinho’s one-and-a-half years at the helm, the Belgium ace revealed they were all shocked – and upset – by the decision to fire him.
And in a clear response to suggestions the players abandoned the Special One in his hour of need, Alderweireld claims the axed coach was and still is held in the highest regard.
The Spurs central defender, 32, said: “It was a strange week. For us, it was the same surprise as for everyone else.
“Of course, there was a little disappointment after the Everton game but, for sure, everyone was fighting and doing the best they could to change things around with Mourinho.
“No one was happy, not at all. We have to respect his career, we have to respect how good he is. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the results together we wanted.”
Due to the unexpectedly swift axe, there was no chance to say a proper goodbye.
“We didn’t have a moment to chat, or even (say) a thank you,” explained Alderweireld, “Maybe the results didn’t go right but 100 per cent he made everyone better.”
With no time to grieve or reflect, Spurs are now being led by the club’s former midfielder Ryan Mason.
At 29, Mason, forced to retire in 2018 after sustaining a fractured skull against Chelsea, is three years younger than Alderweireld.
But so far so good, insists the ex-Atletico Madrid and Ajax man, who has already seen plenty of Pochettino traits in the interim coach.
Alderweireld said: “It’s going wonderfully. It’s only been a few days but we respect him, he is a big personality. That says a lot about him.
“He’s 29 but he presents himself as very mature.. And, of course, we played with him so we know him. Everyone agrees with how he wants to play football.
“He played under Pochettino and he has a lot of ideas from him and that’s good. You can see the similarities, how he wants to train and the sessions. It feels very familiar.
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“His football mind is positive. Even though it’s quite early, it’s a positive vibe he brings.”
As for lifting his first silverware since coming to England in 2014-15 , Alderweireld is quietly optimistic.
He added: “I’ve won the title in Spain and Holland, so I need a trophy in England for the collection.
“We know City are first in the league, are in a good moment and have confidence. But it’s one game. Anything can happen.
“It would be a plus for the club – and the team – to finally, after 13 years, get some silverware.”
- Gareth Bale
- Jose Mourinho
- Tottenham Hotspur FC
- League Cup
- Premier League
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