Late in the second half of Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-0 loss to Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium, match official Mike Dean came over and, unusually, gave Spurs manager Jose Mourinho a yellow card. Replay indicated that Mourinho came over to the Southampton bench and said something to Soton goalkeeping coach Andrew Sparks. That was spotted by the fourth official, who summoned Dean over to issue the warning.
It’s not known what was said between Mourinho and Sparks, but contact between coaches/managers in that manner is quite frowned upon. After the match, when asked in his press conference what happened, Mourinho admitted that he deserved the card, but said he had a really good reason: Sparks is “an idiot.”
“I think the yellow card was fair because I was rude. But I was rude to an idiot. And for some reason I was rude. But I was! And because I was rude, I deserved the yellow card.
Jose went on to talk about the match, noting the aggressive nature of the play — Southampton had an astounding 19 fouls called in this match — and even hinted that the Southampton ball-boys were being used tactically in order to slow down play and prevent Spurs from starting fast attacks on the sideline.
“There were lots of fouls and stoppages. The ball boys were well coached in the delaying of the game and there was not much play. They were winning and they were defending basically with 10 players, fighting hard, being aggressive. A good aggressive not a bad aggressive.”
Mourinho was complaining about the decision on when and how to implement VAR review on plays during the match. Specifically, he was ticked off that a foul on Spurs midfielder Dele, which could’ve been flagged as a penalty to Spurs, was not reviewed by VAR, but another incident between Dele and Saints keeper David McCarthy, was.
I don’t know what happened to kick off the confrontation between Sparks and Mourinho on the touchline, but I can guess that something was said that Mourinho overheard and took offense to, and he couldn’t resist going over and saying something back.
Jose’s response here is amusing, but also betrays the “old Mourinho” that we’ve come to know and loathe over the past several years — one who’s petulant and prone to snide remarks when things aren’t going his way. He’s been on a charm offensive since taking the reins at Spurs, but every so often you get glimpses of the guy who has alienated a number of the teams under his control. This is a peek behind the curtain.
Maybe Sparks deserved it, I don’t know. Maybe this is the football equivalent of a basketball coach taking a technical foul to make a point and rally his team. It didn’t work, obviously. As one of the Carty Free masthead said in our writer’s chat, this would also be much funnier and easier to take if Spurs weren’t playing garbage football right now.
But at least we have something to talk about.