‘Something has to change’ – Stellini questions Tottenham’s mentality after Leicester loss
Tottenham assistant manager Cristian Stellini questioned the mentality of the Spurs squad after they fell to a 4-1 defeat against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.
Spurs took the lead through Rodrigo Bentancur but first-half goals from Nampalys Mendy, James Maddison and Kelechi Iheanacho put the hosts in charge at the interval before Harvey Barnes added a fourth in the second half on Antonio Conte’s return to the bench.
The loss leaves Tottenham in fifth, two points behind Newcastle who have played one game fewer.
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Conte, who returned to the touchline after gallbladder surgery, did not take the post-match press conference – that was left to Stellini, who questioned the players mentality.
“To be consistent is a long process,” said Stellini. “It’s a mental process, you have to be better mentally.
“After we scored the goal, something changed.
“We are a team and in the team something has to change, not individually. It’s about the desire.”
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The loss at the King Power also saw key player Bentancur suffer a knee injury in the second half. The Uruguayan appeared to twist his knee just past the hour mark, but Stellini is hopeful his absence will be short term.
“He feels pain at the moment,” said Stellini.
“We know only this but he can walk so it’s important to feel that he came back to the bench with his leg [injury] and we hope that we can check in a few days that Rodrigo can feel better and he can play soon.”
Tottenham are already without Yves Bissouma, who underwent surgery on Friday to repair a stress fracture on his ankle, and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who is suspended for Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 tie with AC Milan.
It was put to Stellini whether the club could trust youngsters Olivier Skipp and Pape Matar Sarr in such a pressure situation. However, he again pointed to success being contingent on the team as a collective, rather than the performances of individuals.
“We trust a lot in our team, in all the squad,” added Stellini.
“So if we need to play with other players we will play and trust in them. It’s important to understand that it’s not one player who changes the team. If the team does something more we can cover the gap with players who haven’t in the past played a lot. If everyone takes responsibility, nothing changes.”
Rodrigo Bentancur of Tottenham Hotspur sustains an injury during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur at The King Power Stadium on February 11, 2023 in Leicester, England.
Image credit: Getty Images
Tottenham forward Son Heung-min denied that the loss was due to complacency, but did say it should represent a big lesson for the team.
“We started quite well and created chances,” said Son.
“After it was 1-1 we conceded a quick second goal and then it was open. It was a difficult game then. Leicester were so clinical, they almost scored every chance. It’s a very disappointing result.
“I think it’s very sad. We knew it was going to be a really hard game. In the Premier League it’s never an easy game. It showed the Premier League has a high level. I don’t know what I can say, it’s very disappointing.
“I don’t think [it was complacency]. We came with a good feeling after beating City. The first minute we were really on it. We should be ready and learn something.
“Today should be a big lesson for us.”
Tottenham must now prepare for that Champions League last-16 encounter with AC Milan in Italy on Tuesday before welcoming West Ham to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.
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