On the heels of Tottenham Hotspur’s first victory since February 16, a report has come out of France from TF1 that the relationship between midfielder Tanguy Ndombele and Jose Mourinho has reached a breaking point and the player will no longer work with the Portuguese manager. Aggregator GFFN provided the update via Twitter:
| Tanguy Ndombele told José Mourinho in a meeting this week that he does not want to work with him anymore, according to TF1 - direct communication between the pair has now been completely cut, per the report - full story. https://t.co/6PZs4zlMVA— Get French Football News (@GFFN) June 23, 2020
The article itself is just a recap of what was reported on television in France:
During a meeting this week between the two, the French international told Mourinho that he no longer wants to work with him.
Several Tottenham players are trying to mediate between the pair, talking to the coaching staff and Mourinho about how excellent the ex-Lyon man’s performances are in training.
Direct communication between Ndombele and Mourinho has been entirely cut, per the outlet.
Needless to say, that’s not great. We know there have been more than a few times where the man in charge has called out Ndombele on camera for various reasons, mainly citing fitness issues with the club record signing. Our own Andres Ramirez made his site debut with a long article about why it’s foolish to cut the midfielder loose after one season even with the fitness and injury problems. This excerpt almost immediately jumps out to me:
Struggling to find game time under Pochettino and picking up little knocks through the first half of the season, he was seen as a player that had quality but unlucky with injury. He’s suffered the same setbacks under Mourinho but the opinion of him being unlucky has largely given way to him not working hard enough. Mourinho had history of slating players publicly at his most recent charge in Manchester, and it looks like he’s using the same tactics at Tottenham, with Ndombele in his sights.
Mourinho has a pretty long history of this behavior, but it was on display in all it’s “glory” in Manchester as he singled out Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba on different occasions. Everyone has their own reasons as to why he does this. It could be a way to motivate a player. It could be giving everyone a glimpse behind the scenes. It could also be that Mourinho is just an a**hole and this is how he shows it.
In the post-match conference, Mourinho was asked about the report, per Alasdair Gold of Football London:
Asked Mourinho about Tanguy Ndombele and whether there are any problems between him and the player. His reply: "No. There is nothing. I try to do the best for my team. I can't start with 12 or 13 players sometimes I apologise to the ones I cannot pick." https://t.co/8GQ32S6q1r— Alasdair Gold (@AlasdairGold) June 23, 2020
When he was directly asked why Ndombele didn’t even warm up and about the disagreement, here was his full answer:
No. On the bench was Tanguy, Sessegnon, Toby, Vertonghen, Gedson and they didn’t play. That’s football. For me there’s nothing. I had attacking players on the bench, Lamela and Bergwijn. Two great players to bring on and then Winks to give us more consistency.
This situation of the five changes, some people maybe think that you have to use all five changes. You don’t have to do it. You have the chances to do it.
I felt that the team was fine. I never believed that 2-0 was a completely safe result because they were trying everything and one goal could change the state of mind and give them the motivation in the final minutes so I decided to keep the team stable and three changes was enough.
With five substitutes to burn, Mourinho has opted to leave Ndombele on the bench in both matches. Harry Winks, Moussa Sissoko, Giovani Lo Celso and Gedson Fernandes have all been selected in the midfield pivot while Erik Lamela and Dele have played in the attacking midfield role. Mourinho is making the argument that, tactically, there was no room for Ndombele in either of these matches.
Since Mauricio Pochettino was sacked back in November, Nombele has been left out of the squad five times and been an unused sub six times. He officially missed two matches due to a groin strain with a couple of those unused sub spots immediately following his return.
Whether or not this is on Ndombele reportedly being lazy and not wanting to put in the work or Mourinho being an a**hole is in the eye of the beholder. There’s evidence out there to back up either claim as plenty of French beat writers have chimed in about Ndombele’s lack of work ethic when he was at Guingamp, Amiens and Lyon prior to his move. I’ve already gone into the history of Mourinho’s antics in Manchester without touching on his time at Chelsea and Real Madrid and, quite frankly, we don’t need to do that deep of a dive explaining what we already know.
The bottom line is that reports like this aren’t going to help anyone. The report reeks of an agent leaking information on behalf of his client to push for a change. What that change is, we don’t know but it’s clear there’s trouble between player and manager. It’s Mourinho’s job to deny it publicly and deal with it in the dressing room. He could have thrown him under the bus but didn’t, so there’s a glimmer of hope that whatever issues exist can be mended, especially if players are trying to be the peacemaker between them.
Spurs have seven matches left in the campaign and their only chance to salvage the season is scrape their way into a Champions League spot. They need everyone on the same page and their best players on the pitch. Let’s hope this gets resolved sooner rather than later, regardless of who is at fault.