Jose Mourinho needs to ‘learn a lesson’ about self-esteem says Arsenal legend Martin Keown, who believes the Tottenham manager is ‘wiping the confidence’ from his players.
Spurs’ miserable run of form continued on Thursday night as the north London side were beaten 1-0 by Chelsea at home.
Another flat and uninspired performance meant Tottenham have now lost three successive league games for the first time since 2012, with their campaign imploding after five defeats in nine games which habr seen them go from top of the table in mid-December to currently sitting in eighth place.
While Mourinho insists he feels no pressure from anyone other than himself, supporters are growing tired of the manager’s pragmatic style of play and many are now calling for him to be sacked given the current state of the Spurs team.
Pundits blasted the team for showing ‘no passion, no pride and no intent’ against Chelsea, but Mourinho insisted after Thursday’s defeat that he can see spirit in his squad.
And he pointed to the absence of the club’s stronger attacking players for their lack of joy against the Blues, with Harry Kane, Giovani Lo Celso and flying full-back Sergio Reguilon all ruled out.
“We’re trying to go on the search but I saw togetherness,” insisted the boss.
“It’s not easy to see togetherness with bad results, defeats, difficulties, injuries. Togetherness is very easy to show when you’re on a high and winning matches, when everything is amazing.
“But in difficult moments it’s more difficult to see that togetherness but I saw that in the second half. No doubts for me.”
The defeat also came after an admission from Mourinho that his squad is suffering from ‘sadness’ and are ‘in a difficult moment with results, injuries and self-esteem’.
But Keown believes the manager doesn’t really know what self-esteem is, given his tendency to call out his players and freeze them out of the team – just as he has with Dele Alli and Gareth Bale this season.
The former Arsenal centre-back told talkSPORT host Jim White: “When I heard about Mourinho talking about self-esteem, where the players were and how low they were going into the game, I feared for Tottenham.
“And they played like that, without any real character, they sat really deep, they didn’t go and press Chelsea.
“It was a really tepid performance, really strange.
“It’s unusual for Mourinho to be sympathetic with his players, usually he attacks players and now he’s gone with this stance, but it seemed like he didn’t really know where to go with it afterwards.
“For me, when Mourinho talks about self-esteem I don’t think he understands the topic well enough, and because of that he’s making mistakes.
“He’s talking about how you win trophies and your self-esteem goes through the roof, but you don’t win trophies without good self-esteem, so you have to work on that first. That’s a lesson he needs to learn.
“The negativity of what Mourinho said afterwards impacts the players that played last night.
“If I’m a player like Ben Davies, and Sergio Reguilon is being talked about as ‘a player we miss’, how does Davies feel about that? Why can’t Davies do what Reguilon does?
“I saw Davies put crosses into the box, he can do it, so don’t restrict the player that you send onto the pitch and blame the result of the fact other players can’t play at the moment.
“He probably feels he’s protecting his players, but no, he’s actually wiping them of any confidence they might have had.”
Keown does believe, though, that the Special One can turn it around at White Hart Lane.
But he says his tactics at Tottenham need serious work if the team are going to recover from their latest blip.
“Mourinho can turn this around,” Keown added. “I do feel he is a good manager and this Joao Sacramento, his sidekick, is talked about as one of the best young coaches in Europe..
“But you need to see character on the pitch and I think if they keep being asked to change the way they’re playing you see uncertainty, and I saw uncertainty last night.
“They didn’t know when to press, and when they were in possession no one was being creative, they weren’t linking together.
“That’s a problem caused by the manager, very much. He has to get back to a clear vision for what he wants from the team.
“I thought there would be more character in the team, but they played in the way the manager asked, that’s what it looked like.”