Mourinho appeals to players’ ‘professional pride’ ahead of huge week


ose Mourinho has appealed to his Tottenham players’ “professional pride” to keep fighting until the final minute of the season, even if Champions League qualification is no longer possible.

Spurs’s stuttering campaign is in danger of rapidly unravelling, with tonight’s visit to Everton followed by Wednesday’s clash with Southampton and the Carabao Cup Final against Manchester City on Sunday week.

Defeat to Manchester United last time out left Mourinho’s side six points from fourth place and facing a pivotal nine days to maintain their European hopes and make it a campaign to remember at Wembley.

“It’s perfectly clear that we need to fight for every point until the end of the season,” said Mourinho, who appeared subdued on his pre-match Zoom conference.

“That’s what we did against Manchester United where clearly after the game you didn’t get from me one single negative word about the attitude and the commitment of my players. That’s what we have to do until the last match of the season while anything is possible.

“And even if mathematically it’s impossible, it’s the nature of the job, the nature of the professional pride. You have to go with everything you have until the end. And the end is the last minute of the Leicester match.”

Heung-min Son’s devastated post-match interview to Tottenham’s in-house media channel last Sunday suggested defeat to United had hit Spurs’s players particularly hard but Mourinho shrugged off the suggestion that it was the moment his squad knew a Champions League place was beyond them.

“You have to ask Sonny [about his reaction],” Mourinho said. “I felt the dressing room was as sad as always by a defeat. No more, no less.”

The success of Tottenham’s season — and Mourinho’s job — appears to increasingly hinge on the meeting with City on April 25.

Jose Mourinho says he may never explain why Spurs squander so many points

Mourinho’s job would be at risk should Spurs fail to return to the Champions League but, regardless of their final League position, he would earn a degree of vindication by besting Guardiola to win the club’s first trophy since 2008.

He said: “The final is still a little bit far off. We need to separate the waters. We need to say: the cup final is important, but is not the match tonight, we need to focus totally on a very difficult match.”

Matt Doherty and Ben Davies are expected to be the only unavailable players for Mourinho on Merseyside, where Spurs were beaten 5-4 in an FA Cup thriller in January.

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