Football

Mourinho: Incredible if Spurs can finish in top four

EPL
CHELSEA TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Jose Mourinho says it would be “incredible” if his Tottenham Hotspur side finish in the English Premier League’s top four and claims it would rival his greatest achievements.

Tottenham were languishing in 14th place, 12 points behind third-placed Chelsea and 11 off the top four, when Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino in November.

On Saturday (Feb 22), they face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, knowing a win will take them above Mourinho’s old club into the top four.

Mourinho once claimed that achieving runners-up with Manchester United, 19 points behind Manchester City, in 2017-18 was one of the best achievements in his trophy-laden managerial career.

However, he said a top-four finish with Spurs would surpass it, especially as he is likely to be without leading strikers Harry Kane and Son Heung Min for the run-in.

“Stats are very silly sometimes, especially when people try to identify the quantitative stats and forget football is much more about the qualitative stats,” Mourinho told reporters at the club’s training ground on Friday.

“But, if you want to go in the direction of the numbers, Harry and Sonny score the majority of goals that Tottenham score. So yes, not for me, or my achievement, but collectively, this group of boys, if they manage to finish in fourth without Harry and Sonny it would be incredible.”

Based on an EPL form table since Mourinho took over, only Liverpool and Manchester City have collected more points than Tottenham in the last 14 games. In that period, Tottenham have taken 11 points more than Chelsea.

“If it was about me I would prefer to skip to July 1 and start a pre-season with my players, without injuries and the same points as everybody else,” Mourinho said.

“But the boys have done fantastic to put themselves back in the positions where we belong. We have gone in three months from being closer to the relegation zone, which was never really a problem, to being one point behind the top four. An amazing effort from everyone.

“We have earned the right to fight for it. Some say it’s impossible but we are ready to fight.”

Despite Chelsea’s slump in form, Mourinho said Frank Lampard’s team are favourites to finish fourth, and that his return to Stamford Bridge, where he delivered three EPL titles in two stints as manager, is nothing special.

“The only difference is that at the end of the game I can walk from the stadium to my house,” he said. “But even that advantage I won’t use. I will come back with my players.”

Mourinho said Erik Lamela, who came on in the 1-0 defeat by RB Leipzig on Wednesday, will play some part at Chelsea despite not being able to train fully and that midfield powerhouse Moussa Sissoko may return for the last six weeks of the season. – REUTERS

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