José Mourinho has apologised to the Tottenham Hotspur fans and said his players failed “at the basics of life” after they threw away a 2-0 lead to be knocked out of the Europa League by Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday night.
A second leg display described as “diabolical” and “a disaster” by their former player and manager Glenn Hoddle, saw Spurs eliminated in the last 16 in Croatia after extra time.
A hat-trick by Mislav Oršic did the damage, reversing the comfortable lead Mourinho’s side had built in last week’s first leg, prompting Spurs goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris to call the performance a “disgrace”.
“They [Dinamo] left sweat, energy, blood. In the end they left even tears of happiness,” Mourinho told BT Sport. “They were very humble and committed. I have to praise them. On the other side, my team – I repeat, my team – didn’t look like they were playing an important match. If for any one of them it is not important, for me it is.
“I am disappointed for a difference of attitude of one team to another. I feel sorry that my team were the team that didn’t bring to the game not just the basics of football but the basics of life, which is to respect our jobs and to give everything.
“I can only apologise to the Tottenham supporters. I hope they feel the same way I feel. Today is live or die – and in this moment, we die.”
Resting on their 2-0 first leg lead, Tottenham looked relatively comfortable for just over an hour in Zagreb, until Oršic’s first goal began to swing the tie away from them.
He levelled the tie with eight minutes of normal time left and then won it for his side early in the second period of extra time.
Tottenham forced two good saves from home goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic late in the game but it was too little, too late.
“For the respect, I have for my career and my job, every match is important,” Mourinho said. “For every Tottenham fan at home, every match matters. Another attitude is needed. What I feel is much more than sadness.
“I just left the Dinamo dressing room where I went to praise the guys and I feel sorry it is not my team who won the game based on attitude and compromise. I feel more than sad.
“Football is not just about players who think they have more quality than others. The basis of football is attitude. They beat us on that.”
France’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper Lloris gave a brutally honest assessment of his team’s performance.
“It’s a disgrace,” he told BT Sport. “We are a club full of ambition but the team at the moment is a reflection of what is going on in the club. Lack of basics, lack of fundamentals. Mentally we should be stronger, more competitive.
“At this level, when you are not ready, you pay – and if you don’t respect the opponent, it’s punished. The blame is on all the team, all the club. We are guilty.
“The way we play is just not enough. One thing is to come in front of the camera and say ‘I’m ambitious’. The other is to show it every day. To behave as a team is the most difficult thing in football.
“If you follow the team only when you are in the starting XI, that can be a big problem and today is the consequence of that.
“We had great moments in the past because we could trust the togetherness in the team. Today I am not sure about that.
“I hope everyone in the changing room feels responsible. The taste of the defeat is more than painful and we are all responsible.”
Spurs are still in the race to secure a top-four Premiership finish and qualify for next season’s Champions League, but with a six-point gap between themselves in eighth and fourth-placed Chelsea, they can afford few further mistakes.
Mourinho’s side also have the Carabao Cup final to come next month but will start as outsiders to Pep Guardiola’s in-form league leaders Manchester City. – BBC Sport