José Mourinho has challenged his Tottenham players to improve their away form and has hinted that he may be forced to change his team’s style of play if they do not stop conceding “ridiculous” goals.
Tottenham travel to St Mary’s on New Year’s Day to face a Southampton side who have clawed their way out of the relegation zone with seven points from three matches over the Christmas period. Mourinho’s men, meanwhile, have lost to Chelsea and dropped unlikely points at Carrow Road in a 2-2 draw.
While Mourinho has corrected a run in which Spurs went from January to November without an away league win, he remains unconvinced by his team’s defensive performances and suggested his attacking players could be frustrated by failings elsewhere in the team.
“Four matches away, we won two, we drew one and we lost one,” Mourinho said. “Is that better than before? Yes. Is it perfect? No. If we came to Norwich and we cannot create and Norwich dominate us, we have to defend well, we resist, we draw 0-0, maybe you have to admit a positive result. The problem is the way we concede the goals and the way we play.
“We go to United and the goal is a bad goal to concede. We react, we equalise, we go to half-time at 1-1, the second half starts, we concede a ridiculous goal, that is the problem.
“We play so well, we create so much. In the beginning we were conceding lots of goals from corners but we stopped that. We conceded the other day against Brighton from a free-kick but … when I am small and you are taller than me [by] 15cm there are things in football that are impossible. The only solution is when you select players and make squads you select a majority of tall players to cope with the physicality of top football.
“But we have to improve. We concede too many goals and it is very frustrating. If I was one of my attacking players I would be very frustrated that behind we are not able to stop it.”
While Mourinho hints at a change in approach, he insists there will not be a change in defensive personnel. Spurs have been linked with a number of players, including Real Madrid’s Raphaël Varane and Dayot Upamecano of RB Leipzig, in recent days but in public at least Mourinho is not encouraging any rumours.
Asked if he wanted to add to his back-line in the January window, the manager gave a perfunctory answer. “No,” he said and returned quickly to his current mantra. “In January we have a little bit more time to work and with work we are going to try to improve.”