Jose Mourinho is demanding a rapid return to quick-fire football from his first team after the reality check of the Europa League defeat in Belgium.
Fans, players and the Portuguese coach were all enjoying a run of 10 games unbeaten before the sluggish display against Royal Antwerp.
But Mourinho, who took over last November, is quickly learning that managing Tottenham is more like riding a rollercoaster than a wave.
And his post-match reaction showed his frustration after his fringe players failed against the strong Belgian league leaders – and the implications for the rest of the campaign.
Tottenham should still qualify from Group J but they might have to beat Royal Antwerp in the final group game amid a crazy fixture schedule in December to top the group.
And Mourinho, who has twice won the Europa League, fears his strengthened squad is still not good enough to compete on multiple fronts.
With Dele Alli, Harry Winks and Gareth Bale among the international players failing to perform in Belgium, the much changed Tottenham team lacked intensity and energy. And along with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, Tanguy Ndombele is set to return against Brighton on Sunday.
“To be honest we missed him – because he gives speed to the team,” said Mourinho. “Thinking quick, thinking fast moving the ball quick and fast, we missed him.”
Thursday night in rainy Flanders brought an abrupt end the feelgood factor this season following the image-stroking Amazon Prime documentary, the on-loan signing of Gareth Bale and the 6-1 win at Old Trafford.
And there was no more Mr Nice Guy from Mourinho who used Instagram to return to his old ways of publicly slating players from the team bus.
But captain Hugo Lloris admitted: “We should have done better. In the first half we didn’t put enough intensity into the performance.
“I think from the first minute we should have given more. Now we have to do everything possible to get the first home win in the league.”
Tottenham start the Premier League weekend only two points off the top after failing to win a home game yet this season.
“I believe the table now doesn’t mean much,” insisted Mourinho. “I believe that by February, March, you look to the table and understand the reality of the competition.
“A part of that special season with a special Leicester, a part of that you get into February or March and the reality of the teams are expressed on the table, in this moment not yet.
“We had magnificent results away in the Premier League but at home we lost too many points and with these points we would be there but it is not a target.
“The target is to win against Brighton knowing that anything can happen in the Premier League.”
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