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Mourinho rues defensive mistakes in Spurs’ 5-4 FA Cup loss to Everton

The Spurs boss didn’t want to get drawn into what went wrong, but was pleased with the things that went well.

Everton v Tottenham Hotspur: The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

It was certainly a thriller. Tottenham Hotspur crashed out of the FA Cup in the Fifth Round on Wednesday, falling to Everton in a hugely entertaining 5-4 extra time match at Goodison Park, one that will likely go down as a classic (if only to Everton fans).

The FA Cup has been a high scoring affair for Spurs, with Tottenham firing five past Marine and four past Wycombe in the first two games of their run. This time, however, despite taking the lead and later clawing back to equalize the score twice, they couldn’t get the result they wanted.

After the match, Jose Mourinho said he was pleased with his team’s creativity and finishing, but asked not to speak about the defensive mistakes that plagued Tottenham throughout the match.

“We played amazingly well when we had the ball. We started created chances immediately from the first minute. We were very creative, very dynamic. Of course in the extra time, that finesse, that quality dropped, which is normal when you get into extra time. But the team was very creative, very dynamic, very happy, which is something I’m asking from the players, which is a happy team when we have the ball. So [I’m] happy with that.

“Don’t make me speak please too much about the defensive mistakes we made, because that’s obvious and I don’t feel comfortable to be speaking about that.

“In a straight line to saying we played amazingly well with the ball and we made mistakes and were punished by it.”

The result knocks Spurs out of one cup competition, and with the Premier League seemingly out of reach it leaves the League Cup final in April vs. Manchester City and the Europa League as Spurs’ only two remaining paths to silverware this season.

Mourinho was brought in to steady the ship and steer it to top four and a trophy this season. After last night’s loss, that path became exceedingly more difficult. Spurs are still in the middle of a pretty dismal run of results, having won only two league matches in seven in 2021, and an extremely challenging match against Manchester City coming up on Saturday. It’s not known whether last night’s loss will make Mourinho’s seat any warmer than it has been, but it’s another data point to consider as the season progresses.

Elsewhere, Mourinho also gave a brief explanation on Gareth Bale’s absence from the matchday squad yesterday, saying that Bale removed himself from consideration after training this week.

“We played against West Bromwich on the Sunday and [Gareth] didn’t play. On Monday I was a little bit surprised by him wanting to have a scan because he was not comfortable with some muscular area.

“So he didn’t train on Monday and then on Tuesday he trained with the team but I was informed that his desire would be to work with the sports science for a couple of days to strengthen that area where he’s not feeling comfortable. That’s the reason why he’s not here.”

Some observers have used this as a means to criticize Bale and his fitness, but I think Mourinho’s answer is refreshingly honest. Gareth Bale is certainly familiar with the trainer’s table as we’ve seen over the course of his career, but professional athletes are also hyper attuned to their own bodies. By Mourinho’s answer it seems Bale felt... something that worried him and he wanted to play it safe instead of potentially risking another injury. I can respect that, but it’s not going to do much to assuage his growing list of critics who are increasingly convinced he’ll never regain anything close to the form he displayed even recently at Real Madrid.