Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho says he can see a spirit in his squad despite suffering a third successive Premier League loss after a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in which he pointed to the men missing.
Spurs’ league season is imploding, having been top of the table in mid-December, and they went down to Jorginho’s first-half penalty in north London as Thomas Tuchel’s impressive start to life at Chelsea continued.
Since travelling to Anfield at the summit on December 16 they have lost five of their next nine games, including three in a row for the first time since 2012.
They are suffering with injuries, as attacking threats Harry Kane, Giovani Lo Celso and Dele Alli are ruled out, but Mourinho insists he is seeing a togetherness in his squad.
“We’re trying to go on the search but I saw togetherness. It’s not easy to see togetherness with bad results, defeats, difficulties, injuries,” he said.
“Togetherness is very easy to show when you’re on a high and winning matches, when everything is amazing.
“But in difficult moments it’s more difficult to see that togetherness but I saw that in the second half. No doubts for me.”
Unsurprisingly the goals have dried up without Kane, who also is the chief provider and the football has been insipid in recent weeks.
But Mourinho not only pointed to Kane’s absence, but to that of Alli, who was understood to be furious at seeing a loan move to PSG blocked.
And the Spurs boss has not given up on the former MK Dons man, who missed the defeat through injury.
Asked why the goals have dried up, Mourinho said: “Well, (Sergio) Reguilon means something for our attacking football. Harry Kane means something for our attacking football.
“Gio Lo Celso again means something for our attacking football. A good Dele Alli that we didn’t have yet but hope that we can have in the future means something for us.
“It’s not just what they mean, they mean that we don’t have many options to rotate players and we finish with people with some signs of fatigue because of the accumulation of matches because we don’t have so many players to rest.
“The second thing is confidence. The confidence levels are very, very important to play football. When a team doesn’t have good results, a period when results are not good, you need that click back to go back to normality. So for me it’s a little bit like that.”
Despite having Gareth Bale on the bench and his side chasing the game in the second half, Mourinho never looked like bringing the Wales international on.
Quizzed about it again in his press conference he said: “I am trying my best. Gareth is trying his best. Everyone is trying their best.”
While Spurs have lost their last three games, Chelsea made it seven points from Tuchel’s first three games in charge.
They have yet to concede a goal, but were almost made to pay for not killing the game as Spurs could have snatched a draw at the end.
“In general I’m very pleased with the result. It’s a deserved win,” Tuchel said.
“We need to create more clear chances. This is the objective and this is the job for me and I blame nobody.
“This is the job for me and I blame nobody because I never scored in my career in the second and third league. It is the hardest thing, or one of the hardest things in football to score and be calm. But we have trust in our players and we will work to create even more chances and to create more clear chances and to be more effective.
“But, it is hard to talk the guys into it.
“No, in general everyone wants to score with every half-chance and chance we have. It is not like this in the Premier League so no worries so far.”