Jose Mourinho was not surprised to see his “very tired team” lose at Manchester City, although he felt Tottenham were in the match before conceding a “modern penalty”.
Spurs have won once in six matches in all competitions after suffering a 3-0 defeat at City in the Premier League just three days on from an extra-time FA Cup exit against Everton.
Tottenham have conceded eight goals this week, having shipped five at Goodison Park, the worst two-game total of Mourinho’s coaching career.
Despite having just seven shots to City’s 15 and only three on target – all of them in the second half – the Spurs head coach was pleased with his side’s effort and frustrated with the circumstances surrounding the 23rd-minute opening goal.
Tottenham had had the best effort to that point, as Harry Kane’s free-kick hit the crossbar, but Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg fouled Ilkay Gundogan for a penalty that Rodri dispatched.
The result never appeared in doubt thereafter and Gundogan added a brace, swelling his 2021 total to nine – the most of any player in Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues.
“It’s a fresh team against a very tired team, but a team that started the game very, very well, with the game completely controlled,” Mourinho told Sky Sports.
“We hit the post – 1-0, that could give us that fuel that you need when you are especially tired like the boys were.
8 – Tottenham have conceded a combined eight goals in their last two games (5 v Everton, 3 v Man City) – the most José Mourinho has conceded across a two-game period in all competitions in his managerial career. Stunned. pic.twitter.com/EP3XMz5WH5
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 13, 2021
“And then one more of these ‘modern penalties’ – I call them ‘modern penalties’ – to put us in a difficult situation.
“I’m very, very happy with the players’ attitude. I had guys on the pitch that played two hours a couple of days ago; they gave everything.
“Of course, we have guys in difficulty. Lucas [Moura] was the one that I took off at half-time, but I had other guys on the pitch in such a difficult situation.
“But brave attitude, great dignity. Of course, losing 3-0, a team that is not united, a team that is not together would give up and would probably be punished in a way that the team didn’t deserve at all.
“But I saw guys like Harry, like Pierre, Ben [Davies], just to tell three names – I could give you five, six or seven – giving everything.
“I have nothing to say against my players, not even a couple of defensive mistakes that are always present. I cannot complain of the attitude of the boys.”
Asked to expand on his suggestion of “modern penalties”, Mourinho replied: “A ‘modern penalty’ is the penalty where even if you touch with the nail inside the box, it can be a penalty.
“Of course, it depends on the opponent, it depends on the team. But for some, you touch with the nail, it’s a penalty.
“Then you go to the VAR and the VAR cannot deny that there was a touch, sometimes with a toe, sometimes with a nail, sometimes with a nose.
“You cannot deny that there was contact. That’s what I call ‘modern penalties’.”
Only Leicester City (10) have won more spot-kicks than City’s seven this season (level with Manchester United and Chelsea), although the league leaders have only converted four of them.
Rodri was tasked with this latest penalty after misses for Gundogan, Raheem Sterling and the injured Kevin De Bruyne this term.
De Bruyne (twice) and Gundogan have also found the net from 12 yards in the Premier League in 2020-21, although it has been a long-term issue for City.
Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, beaten on this occasion, has saved three City penalties since moving to England in 2012, his most against any one club in this time.