Jose Mourinho praised the attitude of his Tottenham players on Sunday evening after their crucial 2-0 win at Aston Villa, but cryptically noted the impact that “agents” and “selfishness” can have on players.
Carlos Vinicius and Harry Kane found the net for Spurs as they emerged victorious at Villa Park in the Premier League, the much-needed victory coming just days after Mourinho’s side exited the Europa League in the last 16 in shocking fashion.
Spurs blew a 2-0 first-leg lead against Dinamo Zagreb to lose 3-2 on aggregate, but the north London outfit climbed to sixth in the Premier League on Sunday with three points against Villa, who stayed 10th.
“Good result,” Mourinho said at full-time. “Top credit to the players, incredible attitude, incredible effort. They gave absolutely everything.
“Our next challenge as a team is not to play like this as a reaction to an awful performance; to play with this state of mind, with this soul should be a permanent thing. Attitude, professionalism, empathy, team spirit: these are things that are not negotiable.
“We change little details but this is not about tactics, it is about first of all the attitude. Tonight was one of those matches where we had to give everything.”
Mourinho cryptically suggested that agents can have an impact on the attitude of players, with the Portuguese coach saying: “Football nowadays is not easy. Selfishness is around, the individualism is around, the connection between agents and the press is around.
“You need time to develop team empathy because the psychological profile of young people now is not an easy one.
“I want to be proud of my players, doesn’t matter the result. During my career I was proud of my players many times after defeats. I was not proud last Thursday [against Zagreb] and I was not proud at the Emirates [in the Premier League loss to Arsenal last week].”
Mourinho also said that Spurs would not accept the pressure of pursuing a top-four finish in the Premier League or winning next month’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester city.
“More than thinking in this moment about which position we are going to end, whether we are going to win the final, is to develop this spirit we need,” he said.
“But I cannot do it alone. I have to do it with the club, with my players in the dressing room.”