Tottenham Hotspur were victims of a poor mindset yet again as they conceded late to throw away yet another lead in their draw with Wolves on Sunday night.
Tanguy Ndombele scored after just 57 seconds with a strike from the edge of the box, before Spurs sat back for the next 85 minutes with ten men behind the ball looking to counter through Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son.
Wolves were able to nullify those moments well and controlled the game, with Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence dangerous throughout. They struggled to create clear cut chances though, while Fabio Silva could’ve got a penalty very early in the second half. When Wolves finally equalised in the 86th minute, it was thanks to a corner kick headed in by central defender Romain Saiss.
It’s the third time in the last four Premier League games that Spurs have conceded a goal in the last ten minutes of the game, costing them points each time.
First was against Crystal Palace, where they once again took the lead in the first half and just decided to sit off and defend for the remainder of the game. Against Liverpool they had chances to win through Steven Bergwijn, but ultimately they gave Jurgen Klopp’s side the ball and invited the pressure on. This led to an injury time header from Roberto Firmino giving the champions all three points, before the trip to Wolves.
Mourinho has been doing this for years though, it shouldn’t be new to any fans of the sport.
He has made a career off getting very talented squads to defend well in a low block and be able to soak up pressure against teams that can cause them a problem.
But there is a time and a place for it. If a game is tight and you revert to that style late on, then fair enough. If it’s a game where you’re expected to get battered, fair enough. But after going 1-0 up in the first minute against a team who had previously only scored 14 goals in 14 games? Seems excessive.
All it did was invite pressure from the opposition, leave them nothing to worry about themselves and as the team sank deeper and deeper into their own half, a mistake or lapse in concentration became inevitable.
The longer you are defending for, the more likely it is that you will concede. You have to concentrate more, for longer periods of sustained pressure and eventually the mistake will happen.
There is a reason that the top teams try to see tight games out with the ball rather than without it. The likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Manchester City and Juventus will all look to keep possession of the ball in the opposition half late on in the game and will take minimal risks.
It’s the complete opposite of what Mourinho does and we’re seeing the results of it when the defence isn’t up to scratch. After six years without a league title, you’d expect him to have realised that things change and this approach just doesn’t work in the same way it used to.
At the moment, his pride and stubbornness is costing Spurs points just as much as their performances on the pitch are.
The players are responsible for giving their all and winning the games, but the manager is responsible for preparing them the correct way for each game to get the best chance of a positive result.
From genuine title contenders to falling out of the top four in a matter of weeks, Spurs need to freshen up their approach and fast.