Did you say at the end to Ralph that the best team lost?
Because the best team lost. The best team on the pitch lost. If you look at it in a
pragmatic way of forgetting that they had their best player, their best team, they had
one more day to rest, we were really in trouble to build the team. Lots of fatigue from the
These important items but if you analyse just in a simple, pragmatic way the best team lost.
They were better than us, stronger physically than us, faster than us, they pressed, they
had intensity, they had chances. They were the best team.
But I cannot forget all the other circumstances and my players they were phenomenal. The way
they reacted was fantastic. Showed incredible heart and connection with the crowd and they
gave absolutely everything. So I think the best team lost but we deserved to win.
Jan Vertonghen looked very upset when he was taken off...
Was he injured?
No it was my decision. It's normal that he's said. No player likes to come out. I did that
with Dier against Olympiacos. Even worse because it was in the first half. In the second half
I had a feeling in the first half that I needed to change to a back four. It was just a question
of waiting for the right moment to bring on Dele, because Dele was a big question mark.
So I had to manage this chess game without pieces. You know. No bishops, no kings, no
queens. Very, very hard with so many injuries and problems. No Bergwijn. It was very difficult
so I had to wait and I had to change and take a defender. I decided to leave Tanganga and
Toby, a bit faster, a bit better to cope with the space. I decided to sacrifice Jan, so
sad yes and with a reason to be sad but happy now because he won.
Have you spoken to him?
Not yet but I don't need to because he's an intelligent guy. He's very professional and
it's obvious that I did it not to punish because he was playing exactly the same as the others.
I changed because I had to change and bring an attacking player to connect for the first
time with two isolated boys, Lucas and Son once more I think went over the limit, same
as Lo Celso the other day.
That's why he's injured now and I brought on Dele to try that connection which happened.
Dele with their goal he didn't want to get a yellow card because he knows that in the
FA Cup two yellow cards and you lose him for the next round but maybe no next round at
that moment. That's it and the team improved a lot in the last part of the game and an
Ryan Sessegnon looked quite shaken after the injury to Ward-Prowse, did you have to speak to him?
No, he was okay. Of course he's not a left-back. I told him at the beginning since I arrived
that I have a way to develop to be a solid left-back so it's not easy for him. Again
I repeat we are in a position where everybody has to give what they can give and I'm so,
so pleased for the lads.
How close was Dele Alli today to not playing because he really made the difference?
I met him this morning with the fitness coach and medical department at 11am. At that moment
we didn’t know if he could play. We measured the risks and the capactiy to cope with pain
and we decided to bring him.
He was happy to come because he knew we were in big trouble. We knew Lamela and Lo Celso
had no chance to be here with muscular injuries and Bergwijn had no chance with the rules
of the competition. So Dele made that effort to come on at this moment and connect with
Son and the kid Gedson came with energy and fresh legs and I thought he could make a difference
for us too. It was so difficult.
The game may have looked at times that it was out of control but it wasn't. We knew
the direction we wanted to work but of course they scored the second goal and it was very
important the way the team reacted.
Has the development of the team been going the way you want it to?
I cannot speak about the progress I want to make because I don’t have the players I
want. And the team needs players to progress, collectively, tactically and dynamically.
We need to the players but we dont have the players.
We lose so many. Sissoko, Harry, and today Lamela, Lo Celso and Bergwijn. It is so difficult.
One game we have players A, B and C out and then the next game we are without D, E and
F. It’s been a very difficult season.
Do we progress by the mental point of view? Yes. Do we progress by the competitive point
of view? Yes. Do we improve the compactness of the team? Yes. Do we improve from a tactical
point of view? No because one day we play with five and the next day we have to play
with four. I couldn't even play with three up, I only had two!
So we come from a game against City when we played with three up but we came here and
had only two. I don’t know if we will have one for the next game. I don't know if Lucas
and Son are going to finish. I don’t know.
So it’s very difficult to progress the way we want to. It’s more like, let’s build
a team to compete in the next match. It’s what we did here. We had 90 minutes in our
legs to go face to face with Soton. Basically it’s game to game, building a team with
what we have to try to get a result. And the players are being magnificent.
What did you make of Tanguy Ndombele's first start in a while?
I knew he couldn't play 90 mins. Its very difficult to start a player who doesn’t
have 90 minutes in him when there is a chance you could go to extra time. You know with
that player you already have one substitution. But without Dele Alli, Lamela and Lo Celso
I need somebody to connect a little bit. So I have to start with Tanguy even though I
know he couldn’t play. So after one hour they don't follow. Maybe they think this coach
is an idiot for taking him off. I’m not an idiot.
I knew that was the plan. He couldn't do more than that. It was also the plan for Dele Alli
to come and Dele couldn't play 90 minutes. I would like him to do but he couldn't. So
everything was like when you have a blanket in your bed and you pull it up and your feet
are left out. Then you cover your feet because they're cold but half of your body is outside
the blanket. That’s us, but amazing spirit. And that is something I always like, very
very much. Because of that one more day off for the boys than what was organised, one
more day's rest.