If Tottenham Hotspur come from behind to win a Europa League qualifier in Bulgaria but nobody is around to see it, did it really happen? Spurs were on the verge of being knocked out in the most humiliating of fashions, down 1-0 at Lokomotiv Plovdiv late in the second half, but the hosts gave up a penalty and two red cards in the same play, Harry Kane leveled the score from the spot, and Tanguy Ndombele put in a late winner up two men as Spurs won 2-1.
It’s hard to really evaluate a game that you couldn’t watch because the satellite stream sourcing the match was down. However, I managed to find an (ahem) alternate method for viewing the match, and tuned in just in time to see the build-up to Ndombele’s late winner.
From what I can gather, Ndombele was one of the difference makers in the match, coming on as an impact substitute and immediately making Tottenham more dangerous, much like he did in Sunday’s Premier League loss at Everton.
After the match, Jose Mourinho was asked about his relationship with Ndombele, and the manager gave his most positive comments yet about his relationship with the Frenchman, in limbo for much of last season.
“Tanguy is in a process of evolution. Last season he wasn’t. Last season he [was] stuck in a situation where I couldn’t see evolution. In this moment he’s training very, very well. He’s recovering from his injury, he’s recovering physically and today he gave us what we needed in this last 30 minutes.
“In this moment, I believe in Tanguy. I never doubted his quality. Never. I doubted in some moments his motivation and commitment and professional attitude.
“In this moment I believe in him. Today we made this decision together to not start the game because he also feels that he needs a bit more but in this moment I think that Tanguy can do well for us.”
Depending on which side of the Mourinho Divide™ you are on, you’re either nodding your head at these comments or rolling your eyes. Both responses are valid, but you can’t deny that this is a good, positive development.
Also, it’s interesting how he said that both he and Tanguy decided together that he wasn’t ready to start the match. That means, even if you’re skeptical of everything else, that the two are talking and communicating, and that usually means good things.
Tottenham are going to need Tanguy Ndombele this season. He has a ways to go in terms of getting fully fit, but darned if this isn’t both positive and welcome. Now, let’s get him some more minutes at Southampton this Sunday.