Jose Mourinho: Tottenham are in trouble, and Champions League qualification will be difficult
"All the players that were in Leipzig's bench, they would all play in my team in this moment"
Last Updated: 11/03/20 11:14pm
A deflated Jose Mourinho admits his Tottenham team are in trouble, and will find it difficult to qualify for the Champions League next season
An injury-hit Tottenham were knocked out of the Champions League by RB Leipzig on Tuesday evening, losing 3-0 on the night in Germany and 4-0 on aggregate.
They are currently seven points off the top four in the Premier League, with an in-form Manchester United to come on Super Sunday at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and long-term injuries to key players in Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, Steven Bergwijn to name just a few.
Though Mourinho was optimistic about Spurs' chances of overturning the 1-0 deficit from the first leg before the game, he admitted after that his side are finding it difficult at the moment
"The match I think of course the best team won. Physicality, intensity, counter-attack, winning duels, really strong team in the top of their condition, with their best players, a bench that has quality, against a team that is in trouble, you could see. I don't need to repeat the same things again, we have lots of problems, and it is really, really difficult.
"[On Monday] I was very positive, but that's the way I have to be, and there is no point before the game not to believe, not to be motivated, optimistic, that is the way we sportsman have to be before every competition, but the reality is a different thing. One team in this moment is much stronger than we are.
"This is difficult for me to speak again about injuries, but you want me to speak about other things, when it looks like the obvious is that the problems accumulate with the accumulation of injuries. If you want to make a mental exercise and imagine Leipzig tonight without Sabitzer, Schick, Werner, do you think they would win the way they did?
"Do you want to go to Liverpool, without Salah, Mane, Henderson, Firmino? Do you want to go to Spain, to Barcelona without Griezmann, Messi, Suarez, Pique. Do you want to do this exercise with every team in the world. I think every team in the world would struggle with five or six of their best players missing. I think they would. It's as simple as that.
"All the players that were in Leipzig's bench, they would all play in my team in this moment. So that is a big problem."
Mourinho, in his first season at Spurs after replacing Mauricio Pochettino in November, remains hopeful that his side will improve by default next season when injured players return, but admits reaching the Champions League again will be difficult.
"I know that automatically our team will improve next season, but we also know that we have to improve in other areas, I am not going to tell you in which way exactly I am going to analyse it.
"I saw the mistakes, I saw why we made the mistakes, and I saw why Leipzig were dominant in every duel. We have our problems, and our problems, as you say, don't end in injuries, but no team in the world would cope with injuries for such a long time. You can cope for some matches but not three or four months.
"With the squad we've got at the moment, it is going to be very difficult. But we have matches to play, matches to fight. We have to be strong to cope with the limitations we have. At least we have four days in-between, so at least by the physical point of view, the players can react in a better way."
Mourinho even admitted after the game that their Champions League exit may be a good thing, seeing it as an experience for the players.
"I think probably it's good [going out]," he told BT Sport. "Difficult moments can prepare the future in a better way."
Asked if the team need a summer re-build, he also said: "I don't think so. This summer, unless something happens during the holidays, when we start, we will have Sissoko, Kane, Son, Bergwyn, Davies so that is massive.
"People can say it's excuses but it's [the injuries] pretty bad for anyone and I don't think anyone would resist in this situation. We have matches to play and we go to our limits. Let's see how we end the season."
Alli 'sorry' and questions mentality, Jose reacts
Dele Alli apologised to Tottenham's travelling fans for the defeat and the performance in Leipzig.
"I have to apologise to the fans," he told BT Sport. "They've travelled all this way and to lose like that. It's the mentality, we were second to a lot of balls and to concede those goals in that manner just shows the mentality wasn't strong enough.
"You have to look at yourself first before you start blaming anyone else or blaming the team. I'll do that and I'm sure a few others will as well because tonight wasn't good enough. We can't hide, it hasn't been a nice season for us but we have to keep fighting. We're in a bad situation and we're the only ones who can turn that around."
Asked about Alli's questioning of the mentality of Spurs, Mourinho said: "If Dele has this view I think it is a good thing, but I think he can also be very introspective, he can look at himself, he can analyse himself, and that's an amazing thing to do as a player, I think every player should do his own analysis, and if he does that, I think it can be very good for him."
Sky Sports' Peter Smith...
"It was a sorry way to exit the Champions League after the joy Tottenham and their supporters had taken from the competition under Mauricio Pochettino last season. Now, with Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, Steven Bergwijn, Moussa Sissoko, Ben Davies, Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth also on the injury list, Spurs are on their knees, out of the cups and with a manager who has already stated his wish for this season to be over.
"Out of form, missing key players, defensive disarray, toothless in attack… But somehow Spurs must find a way to raise themselves for an absolutely decisive game against Mourinho's former club Manchester United on Sunday.
"Defeat would all but end Spurs' ambitions for the season - and have ramifications for plans Mourinho has for upgrading his squad in the summer transfer window."
Tottenham now host Manchester United on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League at 4.30pm, while Leipzig are at home to Freiburg in the Bundesliga on Saturday at 2.30pm.
The draw for the Champions League quarter-finals will be held on March 20 at 11am.