Spurs man­ager Jose Mour­inho hit out as an­other Video As­sis­tant Ref­eree con­tro­versy cost his side.

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Sam Dean

It was a fa­mil­iar sense of frus­tra­tion for Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur and a fa­mil­iar anger for Jose Mour­inho, who once again felt his team had been wronged by Var.

Harry Kane was de­nied what ap­peared to be the clear­est of penal­ties in the first half, when he was pushed in the back by Joshua King. The man be­hind the screens in Stock­ley Park was Michael Oliver, the same video as­sis­tant ref­eree who had con­tro­ver­sially de­nied Tot­ten­ham a penalty against Sheffield United last week.

“The same ref­eree that was the Var against Sheffield United,” said Mour­inho. “In the world ev­ery­body knows that is a penalty. And when I say ev­ery­body, I mean ev­ery­body.”

Mour­inho even re­ferred to Oliver as “you know who”, as if he was a Harry Pot­ter vil­lain, adding that it was the most sig­nif­i­cant ac­tion of the match. “The game had the most im­por­tant mo­ment,” Mour­inho said. “You know when, you know who and I don’t want to say any­thing more in re­la­tion to that be­cause ev­ery­body knows. I don’t need to say much more.”

Mour­inho could not ex­pand fur­ther in the usual post-match press con­fer­ence. In­stead he stormed out af­ter a tech­ni­cal glitch pre­vented it from start­ing as planned.

The best in­di­ca­tion of Mour­inho’s view of this stodgy, drab and un­imag­i­na­tive Tot­ten­ham per­for­mance came at half-time, when Tan­guy Ndombele trot­ted down the tun­nel in his full kit. Truly, things must have been bad if Tot­ten­ham’s record sign­ing was get­ting a game. Be­fore this, Ndombele had played 19 min­utes since lock­down. It was there­fore lit­tle sur­prise that he looked no bet­ter than the rest of them in Tot­ten­ham blue, with Mour­inho’s side once again lack­ing flu­ency or in­ven­tion in at­tack.

Spurs’ per­for­mances have so far been worse than re­sults since foot­ball’s sus­pen­sion, yet this was nei­ther a good show­ing nor a good out­come. They could not even muster a sin­gle shot on tar­get. Ahead of Sun­day’s derby against Arse­nal they sit ninth in the ta­ble.

Some credit must go to Bournemout­h for pre­vent­ing Tot­ten­ham from show­ing any hint of their class. Ed­die Howe’s side re­dis­cov­ered their verve here, af­ter such a dread­ful few weeks, and while they were not dan­ger­ous in at­tack, they were or­gan­ised and dif­fi­cult to play against. This might not be enough to keep them up but, at least, it is a step in the right di­rec­tion.

“It is a point gained,” said Howe. “Our play­ers gave ev­ery­thing. We have fought. It was a real hard shift for ev­ery­body. That is the kind of thing we are go­ing to need.”

Bournemout­h even thought they had won it in the fi­nal minute of nor­mal time, when Cal­lum Wil­son ac­ro­bat­i­cally turned the ball into the net. A slight hand­ball from King saw it can­celled out via Var, though, and Harry Wil­son then missed the chance of the match in stop­page time, de­nied by Hugo Lloris with no one else to beat.

Howe’s side were on their toes from the off, clos­ing down the Tot­ten­ham play­ers and look­ing to play for­ward. The big­gest cheers of the first half came for Adam Smith and Dan Gosling, who re­ceived huge praise from the home bench af­ter crunch­ing into chal­lenges near the touch­line. It has not been the case in re­cent games but here, at least, Bournemout­h looked like a group of play­ers who were will­ing to swing a few punches.

If only the same could be said for Tot­ten­ham, who were com­par­a­tively meek through­out. There is no cre­ativ­ity or mo­men­tum to their game, with Kane hor­ri­bly iso­lated in at­tack. They had ev­ery right to feel ag­grieved with the de­ci­sion not to award Kane a penalty, but it was no ex­cuse for the lack of qual­ity. Their flat show­ing in a grim first half prompted Mour­inho to order both Ndombele and Son He­ung­min into a half-time warm-up.

The play­ers soon needed to lim­ber up again, thanks to a stop­page

in play that fol­lowed a hor­ri­ble col­li­sion be­tween Smith and Ben Davies. The ball hung in the air and Smith’s eyes were locked upon it as Davies came charg­ing through. The im­pact was sick­en­ing, with Smith leav­ing the field on a stretcher and in a neck brace, al­though he was con­scious and talk­ing af­ter a few min­utes. “Don’t worry Smithy,” Kane told the for­mer Tot­ten­ham player. “You’re still ugly.”

Noth­ing was quite as ugly as Tot­ten­ham’s per­for­mance, though. They ap­pear short of in­spi­ra­tion and con­fi­dence, with Bournemout­h look­ing the more likely win­ners at the end. If Harry Wil­son had beaten Lloris in stop­page time, it would not have been un­de­served. For Spurs, Arse­nal will pro­vide more for­mi­da­ble op­po­si­tion than this. Mour­inho will know bet­ter than any­one that an ur­gent im­prove­ment is re­quired.

No push over: Spurs striker Harry Kane goes fly­ing un­der a chal­lenge from Bournemout­h’s Joshua King but the Var de­cided it was not a penalty

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