Tottenham Hotspur’s final match in this deeply weird 2019-20 season is this Sunday against Crystal Palace, and Spurs will have two players back in contention to feature for the match at Selhurst Park.
Jose Mourinho gave his prematch press conference this morning and announced that Dele Alli and Eric Dier will both be in contention to play. Dele has missed the past five matches with a hamstring injury, while Eric Dier has now fulfilled his league suspension after he was penalized for entering the stands in a March FA Cup loss to Norwich City. That leaves Tanguy Ndombele as the only first team player who is set to miss out.
That’s good news against a Crystal Palace team that has little to play for and has an injury crisis to deal with. Palace will be without James Tomkins, Gary Cahill, Christian Benteke, Patrick van Aarnholt, and Mamadou Sakho, with Luka Milivojevich a game-time decision. Palace are sitting in 14th place — safe from relegation, and with nothing really to play for.
That’s not the case for Spurs, who can finish in either sixth or seventh place pending results. A win over Palace combined with a Chelsea win or draw against Wolves will not only ensure that Spurs finish in sixth place (with an extra £2m or so of prize money), but also remove the horror scenario of being bumped from Europa League qualification should Arsenal win the FA Cup.
However, that may not have been the biggest news to come out of the press conference. Mourinho confirmed the rumors that one of his assistant coaches, Ricardo Formosinho, is leaving the club, and that Spurs have already struck a deal with a person “connected to the club” to replace him.
“My other assistant Ricardo [Formosinho - tactical analyst] is leaving and he’s leaving because he feels that he would like to have, in this stage of his career, probably one of his last opportunities, due to his age, to be a head coach. I’m not going to say where of course, that’s up to him, but he’s leaving and we all wish him all the best.
“Who is coming to replace him? I prefer that it’s the club that’s going to inform you about that but my decision was to go again in one direction that I had before in other clubs which is to help local people to develop, instead of bringing one more assistant with me.
“So it’ll be someone with a history with the club, connected with the club and let’s try to give him an opportunity because I’m not really a fan of people moving with a lot of assistants and forgetting local talent and people from the house.”
This has led to wild speculation on social media about who might be coming in as Jose’s new assistant, with suggestions ranging from Robbie Keane to Ryan Mason to... Jan Vertonghen. Jose didn’t give any further clues, and we can probably expect an announcement from the club in due course.
Finally, Mourinho confirmed what was probably the worst kept secret in Tottenham football circles, announcing that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the shortened offseason between seasons, Spurs will not be conducting an overseas tour this summer. Tottenham regularly head to far-flung locales — Asia of late, but also USA and Australia in recent seasons, usually in connection with the International Champions Cup — during the offseason to not only get some preseason friendlies in but also foster goodwill with their overseas fans, but that’s not going to happen this year for obvious reasons.
“We’re not going away. Lots of uncertainty, you organize, invest, book and who knows what going to happen in two or three weeks. We don’t know which countries can we go to? Which countries we cannot go to.
“To be involved in an organized tournament abroad is also a big question mark. We have to play safe and to play safe in such a short pre-season that we are going to have, the players then go to their national teams.
“To play safe is to stay at home, we’re very lucky because our home is amazing, so by staying here and training here, we have great conditions to work.”
Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham will kick off (along with the rest of the Premier League) at 11 a.m. ET / 4 p.m. BST on Sunday.