Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho said his side’s embarrassing Europa League exit was one of the most difficult nights of his career and that a change of attitude is needed to save their season.
Spurs were left red-faced after Dinamo Zagreb overcame a 2-0 first-leg deficit with a 3-0 extra-time win in the Croatian capital on a shocking night for the Premier League club.
The defeat leaves their campaign hanging by a thread as one avenue of getting into next season’s Champions League is now closed and their Premier League form is unlikely to present another as they remain off the pace in the top-four race.
They do have a Carabao Cup final against Manchester City in April to look forward to, but if they lose that Mourinho, who takes his side to Aston Villa on Sunday, will be feeling the pressure.
“For sure it’s one of the most difficult, I don’t know if it’s the most difficult one. But honestly I don’t believe [I had] a similar feeling,” he said.
“I had in Europe moments of big pain but pain caused by what football is. I lost two Champions League semi-finals on penalties. It hurts you. [I’m] maybe still bleeding.
“But the passion for football, the respect for your job is something that hurts me deeply. And I have this very bad feeling. This very bad feeling because maybe for some people in football, football is a job or a way to make money.
“For me, it’s much more than that. That’s what I never lose – this basics of football, which is the passion, the heart, the desire. I feel very, very hurt that I cannot find more words to describe it.”
Mourinho accused his side of being beaten on attitude by the Croatian team, whose manager was sent to prison on Monday and are the lowest-ranked team left in the competition.
“We lost a chance of winning a trophy. I’m not saying that by winning we would win the Europa League. Far from it, I’m not saying that,” he added.
“But we were knocked out of a competition where if we go to the quarter-finals, we have a 12.5 per cent chance of winning the competition. So we can say we lost a competition.
“Of course, the only chance that we have to win a trophy this season is the final that we have to play against a very good team, against the next champions and a team that match after match show an incredible desire of winning.
“So it’ll be a very difficult final and if we want to have a chance to win it, the attitude has to be completely different.”