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Victor Wanyama blames Tottenham brass for not playing before MLS signing

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Now in Montreal, Big Vic said his issues at Tottenham had more to do with upper management than Jose Mourinho.

CD Olimpia v Montreal Impact: Quarterfinals - Leg 1 - 2020 CONCACAF Champions League Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Victor Wanyama is currently in isolation, along with the rest of his new MLS teammates, in Montreal as the Impact are shuttered along with the rest of football. The timing couldn’t have been worse for him — he signed with Montreal Impact on March 3, made his MLS debut off the bench on March 10, and then the world shut down.

There hasn’t even been time for him to properly get a run of football matches going, which is especially disappointing considering how long he’s waited to play the game he loves at Tottenham Hotspur over the past couple of seasons.

Wanyama has now opened up a bit on his departure from Tottenham, and his frustrations over playing time and injuries in an interview with the CBC. To hear Vic tell it, it had little to do with Tottenham’s new manager, Jose Mourinho — he says his playing time suffered due to Spurs’ upper management, which seemed bent on keeping him off of Spurs’ pitch while they looked for someone to buy him.

“The first thing [Mourinho] told me, he was wondering why I wasn’t playing. I have to be playing. The problem wasn’t with the coach if you ask me. The problem was a little bit upstairs and they didn’t give me a chance.”

Wanyama says that the issues with Spurs’ upper management started all the way back in 2017 when he picked up a serious knee injury and missed the first half of the season. He was never really the same after that, and after another knee injury in 2018 he gradually fell further and further down the midfield pecking order.

“I was not given the chance to come back,” Wanyama said.

”They tried to frustrate me. They gave me one game after four months, or three months, so it was a little bit tough.”

Wanyama said he offered to move to the reserve team to prove he was able to play at the same level he did before the injury, but the club wasn’t interested.

”I was frustrated. I wanted to get my happiness back, my football happiness back. That’s when the manager here, Thierry [Henry] called me and asked if I wanted to play. And I said yes.”

The MLS move was a surprising one, especially after Vic reportedly backed out of a deal the previous summer that would’ve taken him to Belgium with Club Brugge. And unfortunately for Wanyama, he’ll need to wait even longer now to make an (ahem) impact in MLS.

Injuries are terrible things. Vic was a dominant defensive midfielder until his knee gave out on him, and while he never was the same again even in his brief appearances, you can understand why an athlete’s belief in his own abilities would lead him to lash out at the management that wouldn’t let him play. And maybe that’s true as well — I certainly wouldn’t rule it out that Spurs just wanted to get rid of him and clear the decks for someone younger. Notably, the interview doesn’t mention Mauricio Pochettino at all, who would’ve had an even greater role in determining Vic’s role in this team.

It’s certainly sad that Wanyama’s tenure at Tottenham came to such an inglorious end considering how important he was for Spurs for a couple of years. I’m certainly hopeful that he regains his form in Montreal and once football resumes I’ll be paying a lot closer attention to the Impact than I would otherwise.