Jose Mourinho insists that Dele Alli was angry with his own performance, not the decision to substitute him, after he reacted furiously to being withdrawn during Tottenham’s 1-0 Champions League last-16 first-leg loss to RB Leipzig.
Alli appeared surprised when his number came up in the 64th minute at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, storming to his seat on the bench before throwing a bottle and his boots to the ground in anger at the decision.
Spurs chief Mourinho, though, rejected any suggestion that Alli was angry with him in his post-match press conference and insisted the decision to take him off was vindicated by Tottenham’s late improvement.
“I think he was angry with his performance, not with me,” Mourinho said. “I think he understands why I took him off, and the team improved.”
Alli had struggled to make an impact against a dominant Leipzig side, who scored the only goal through Timo Werner’s penalty after Ben Davies clumsily fouled Konrad Laimer in the 58th minute.
Spurs did rally in the closing stages, going close to equalising through Giovani Lo Celso, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura, but Mourinho was left to bemoan a lack of attacking options after Heung-Min Son had joined Harry Kane on the sidelines before the game with a fractured arm.
“You have to look at our situation,” he said. “If you want to make an exercise of football you can maybe think, Champions League game, Barcelona without [Lionel] Messi, [Luis] Suarez and [Antoine] Griezmann.
“If you want to look at, let’s say, Liverpool. One Champions League game, no [Mohamed] Salah, no [Sadio] Mane, no [Roberto] Firmino, but they would still have [Divock] Origi.
“We are speaking about a very difficult situation and if I could I would move immediately to the 1st of July, with Harry Kane, with [Mousa] Sissoko, with Son, with [Steven] Bergwijn, with Lucas, with Lamela, I would.
“I would love to be at the 1st of July, but I’m not, I’m on February 19th. So, we have to fight until the end.
“What worries me is that this is going to be the situation until the end of the season. Because if this is the situation for a couple of matches I would say, ‘OK, we are in a difficult situation now but the next game at home in two weeks when we play Wolves is going to be different.’
“The situation is going to be exactly the same. But I’m so proud of the players and, speaking about the Champions League and the next match against Leipzig, one thing I can guarantee – because this is the mentality of my players – is that, even with I don’t know who will be playing in attack, we are going there to fight until our limits.”
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