The inexorable plod of matches continues for Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League. Two days after a limp 1-1 draw at home to Fulham, Spurs play their second consecutive team currently in the relegation zone when they head to Bramall Lane to play Sheffield United on Sunday.
In his pre-match press conference, Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho touched on a number of subjects, including his club’s injury status, the future of Gareth Bale, and whether his team can rebound from the disappointing result against Fulham.
First, Mourinho confirmed that his team is as healthy as its been in a while, with only Giovani Lo Celso still out injured. That means Steven Bergwijn is in line for a return after missing Spurs’ last two matches vs. Marine and Fulham, and sitting out the Brentford match on the bench. But Mourinho was quick to say that contrary to reports, Bergwijn wasn’t injured — he was sick.
“[Steven] was ill. He was ill the week before, the week of Marine and then he trained with the team only one day, which was the day before we played Fulham. [It] was not a muscular injury. Was not that. He was ill, was not even coming to the training ground for a few days.”
Mourinho went on to discuss the current situation with Gareth Bale, after the Times of London reported that an extension of his loan from Real Madrid was “not being considered at this time.” For Jose, it’s not that the club isn’t considering a loan extension, it’s that there hasn’t been any discussion at all about anything, and that there are extenuating circumstances as to why he hasn’t seen much of the pitch this season.
“There was not even a second of discussion about that. Gareth is a player on loan until the end of the season. Not one second of discussion. We are speaking about, of course, Gareth, himself, Real Madrid, Tottenham, but I promise you, not one second of discussion.
“Of course you know that he arrived injured. And he was injured before, I believe, the first month. And then, step by step, Europa League matches were helping him to get his condition. Premier League of course… Europa League group phase is a different level than the Premier League. The knock-out is a different story. But the group phase is a different intensity, a different rhythm, a different quality.
“So in the Premier League, he didn’t play many minutes. Then another small injury at Stoke where he was having a good first half. And now coming, not an easy process. Everybody knew that in the past couple of seasons, in Madrid, they were not easy for him. So let’s go, step by step, and try to get the best out of him.”
Sheffield United are currently bottom of the table and having a historically bad year — their 1-0 win over Newcastle on January 12 was their first win of the season and they have just five points from 18 matches. That puts them in possible competition with the 2007-08 Derby County team which took just 11 points for worst ever Premier League campaign.
However, Mourinho was having none of that kind of talk, claiming that Sheffield were far and away better than their record indicates.
“I don’t look to the table. Of course, I look but I go deeper than that. [Sheffield] are not the worst team in the Premier League at all. They’re a much, much, much better team than what the table says, you analyse their matches and many times the opponent was not better than them.
“Many times it was one of the small big details that decides the points, decides the score, decides the table. Many times they lose 1-0, they draw 1-1, they are a very good team. If in our mind we’re going to play the worst team in the Premier League we’re going to be in big trouble.”
Tottenham’s match at Sheffield is Sunday, with kick-off at 9:00 a.m. ET / 2:00 p.m. GMT. The match is broadcast on NBCSN in the USA and Sky Sports in the UK.