Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho has questioned his team’s mental strength after their dismal 3-1 loss at Sheffield United delivered a potentially fatal blow to their chances of qualifying for the Champions League.
Harry Kane had an equaliser disallowed by VAR after Lucas Moura was adjudged to have handled the ball in the build-up to the goal, in what proved to be a pivotal moment in Thursday’s match.
The Portuguese boss said he had learned a lot about his players by their poor reaction to the decision.
“You have to be ready to cope with negative moments and go until the last minute,” he said. “In spite of my efforts in the dressing room, now I feel I know more about the profile of my players.
“I felt that in the second half we wouldn’t be strong enough to cope with a team that when they’re winning just defends and counter-attacks. So congratulations to them.”
Mourinho has also called on his side to show their motivation in the remaining six games to finish as high as they can.
The Champions League spots, even if they go down to fifth, look to have gone and a place in the Europa League is not in the bag.
Mourinho said when a professional player needed external motivation “he is in trouble”.
“The motivation should be self-motivation, directly related to your professionalism, directly related with respect for your job, your club, the fans,” he said. “That is the most important thing.
“The manager can just help but the nature of the player as a professional is the most important.
“Clearly if these boys don’t care about results and don’t care about the position we finish at the end of the season we’ll be in big, big trouble for the future.”
The disallowed goal was one of the most controversial VAR calls of the season and Spurs winger Steven Bergwijn was left scratching his head.
“In my opinion it is a goal,” the Dutchman said. “He (Moura) can’t put his hands anywhere. They also pushed him in the back, so there are two things wrong.
“I don’t understand why we didn’t get a free-kick, maybe it is because we played through but I think he has to give the goal.”