If you want the clearest indication yet that there are now serious problems in the Tottenham Hotspur dressing room, you should start by listening to Spurs’ club captain. Hugo Lloris pulled no punches after Tottenham crashed out of the Europa league on Thursday night, falling 3-0 at Dinamo Zagreb.
Lloris called the performance and the result “a disgrace” and strongly implied that the Tottenham dressing room is fractured under the leadership of Jose Mourinho.
“I think we are all more than just disappointed. It’s just a disgrace. I just hope everyone in the training room feels responsible of the situation, because it’s a disgrace.
“What more can I say about it? After Sunday’s match [the north London Derby vs. Arsenal]... the taste of defeat tonight is more than painful and we are all responsible for it.
“We are a club that is full of ambition but I just think the team at the moment is just a reflection of what’s going on in the club. We have a lack of basics, a lack of fundamentals, and our performances are in relation of that. Mentally we should be stronger, we should be more competitive. Today I didn’t feel that on the field.
“At this level when you’re not ready I’ve discovered you pay straight away. It doesn’t matter the opponent, there’s quality in Europe all over and if you don’t respect the opponent you can get punished and that’s what happened today.
Keep in mind, this is Tottenham Hotspur’s club captain speaking here, and one of the longest tenured players currently at the club. This is a man who has been an even-keeled voice at Spurs for as long as I can remember, and he’s flat out dropping bombs about the culture within the dressing room.
Hugo was asked to clarify about his earlier comments on what’s happening in the dressing room.
“The way we play is just not enough. It’s one thing to come in front of the camera to say that I’m ambitious. It’s another thing to show it every day in training sessions, to show it every time on the pitch. You can’t let it down if you play or don’t play. To behave as a team is the most difficult thing in football. Whatever the decision of the manager [is], you have to follow the way of the team. If you follow the team only when you’re in the starting 11, that causes a big problem for the team because in one moment you’re going to pay in your season. And today is the consequence of that.
“We had great moments in the past because we could trust the togetherness that was in the team. Today, I don’t know. I’m not sure about that.”
One thing that strikes me listening to Hugo speak here is how much he sounds like Mauricio Pochettino. There’s no question that he and Poch were close, but some of the things Lloris says here — To behave as a team is the most difficult thing in football — sounds like they could’ve come straight out of the Argentine’s mouth.
Moreover, it’s also not much of a secret that Hugo will be entering into the last year of his contract next season, and that he’s unlikely to sign an extension at Spurs. It’s pretty open that Pochettino wants to bring him back to PSG this summer, and that Hugo would be quite happy to join him in Paris.
But look deeper at those comments — it’s not very difficult to read them and come to the conclusion that Hugo is effing DONE with Mourinho: the way he plays, the way he operates. Hugo sure seems to be describing a locker room that is divided between those frustrated with the way things have gone under Mou and those who are loyal to him and believe he can turn things around. I don’t know where those lines are drawn or for sure who’s on who’s side — Hugo and Dele certainly seem on one side of the issue and I think we can safely put Tanguy Ndombele on that side as well, and reporting has placed Harry Kane as a big Mourinho backer in the past. But this is not a good situation by any stretch.
Hugo is speaking from an extremely low point emotionally in this interview. That’s pretty clear. Along with those emotional lows comes a real sense of clarity in his words. This is not drilled media-speak that we hear so often from professional footballers after matches. There’s a level of authenticity and honesty that I don’t think I’ve ever quite heard from Hugo in an interview before.
This isn’t media obfuscation. These are his real thoughts and opinions about what’s going on inside the club. And it paints a picture that’s even bleaker than I had imagined.