José Mourinho insisted that his players remain united – and refused to answer a question about the unused substitute Gareth Bale – after Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat by Chelsea saw them lose further ground in the race to qualify for the Champions League on Thursday night.
Chelsea were superior from start to finish at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium, claiming victory thanks to an early penalty from Jorginho, and only came under serious pressure near the end. Although Carlos Vinícius almost rescued a late point for Spurs, who lie seven points below the top four, they have been abysmal since Harry Kane injured his ankles against Liverpool last week.
But despite another poor display from Spurs, who lacked ideas without Kane up front and Sergio Reguilón’s drive at left-back, Mourinho attempted to find the positives from his side’s third consecutive defeat. Pointing to injuries, the manager suggested that his players have simply lost belief after a tough spell.
“I don’t like to speak about Harry Kane and company but they mean something for the confidence of the players,” Mourinho said. “We tried without Vinícius against Brighton. We tried today with Vinícius and two up. We tried in the second half with him as a target man and two wingers and a No 10. We’re trying to go on the search but I saw togetherness.
“It’s not easy to see togetherness with bad results, difficulties, injuries. Togetherness is very easy to show when you’re on a high and winning matches. But in difficult moments it’s more difficult to see that togetherness but I saw that in the second half. No doubts for me.”
Mourinho was reluctant to explain why he kept Bale on the bench. “Good question, but you don’t deserve an answer,” he told one reporter who asked him about the winger’s omission. The Portuguese offered few clues after being pressed again on Bale. “I’m doing my best, he’s doing his best,” Mourinho said. “Everybody is doing their best.
It was a good night for Chelsea, who have picked up seven points from Thomas Tuchel’s first three games. Victory lifted Tuchel’s side to sixth, four points below fourth-placed Liverpool. The only concern was losing the influential centre-back, Thiago Silva, to a thigh injury.
Tuchel does not expect the Brazilian to feature when Chelsea visit Sheffield United on Sunday. “I saw Thiago with a big strap around his muscle but we have to wait,” Chelsea’s manager said. “It’s worrying because it’s a muscle injury.”