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‘We have to respect Mourinho’ – Tottenham’s Alderweireld plays down dressing room issues with sacked coach

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Jose Mourinho must be respected for his career achievements, according to Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld, who adds that there was no schism within the dressing room between the manager and the squad.

The veteran Portuguese was sacked on Monday, just six days ahead of the club’s Carabao Cup final clash with Manchester City, after watching his side slip out of both Europe and contention for a top four finish in the Premier League.

Academy boss Ryan Mason was subsequently promoted to take charge of the first team on an interim basis, but Alderweireld has now sought to dispell the idea that his deposed predecessor was ousted because he lost control of his team 

What did Alderweireld say?

“Everybody was hurt to hear [that] he wasn’t our manager any more,” the Belgium international told The Guardian when asked about Mourinho’s dismissal. “[It was] the same surprise for us as for everyone else.

“We have to respect his career, we have to respect how good he is. Unfortunately we didn’t get the results together that we wanted. Again, a lot of respect, even a thank you.

“Maybe the results didn’t go that way but 100% he made everyone better. For sure, his ways and how he looked about football … you have to respect them.

“I understand people want to know that maybe things are not going in the right direction and in the dressing room but that was not it. Again, every player gave 100% to change things.”

Alderweireld confident of Mason impact

The 32-year-old however is effusive of Mourinho’s short-term successor in the role, who will lead the club out at Wembley in only his second game in senior management, comparing him favourably to former Lilywhites supremo Mauricio Pochettino.

“He is a big personality, how he talks. He’s only 29 but he presents himself as very mature. We played with him so we know him. There’s a lot of respect and everyone agrees with how he wants to play football looking forward.

“You can see the similarities between Ryan and Mauricio Pochettino, how he wants to train, how his sessions are. It feels very familiar. He will bring his own view of football and his own ideas but we can see the similarities, for sure.

“Everyone knows he played at Spurs under Pochettino, he has a lot of ideas from him and we only can agree that’s very good. Everyone was performing very well under Pochettino and so Ryan’s mind in football is positive – it’s going forward and everyone is seeing his ideas. Even though it’s quite early, it’s a positive vibe he brings.”

The bigger picture

Despite the exit of their manager at the head of a turbulent week that has seen the club embroiled in the ongoing European Super League saga, Spurs face arguably their best chance of silverware for well over a decade when they face Pep Guardiola’s City this weekend.

The club has not won a trophy since they lifted this honour with an extra-time victory over Chelsea in 2008, leaving Mason on the cusp of potentially career-changing history.

Victory at Wembley, coupled with an impressive run-in to the campaign, could see the 29-year-old – the youngest manager in Premier League history – rewarded with the top post on a full-time basis, much as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer assumed a similar trajectory at Manchester United after Mourinho’s exit there.

Further reading

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