Football

Tottenham Hotspur stars deny reports of friction with Jose Mourinho

Son and Lloris refute allegations of friction with Mourinho after Norwich win

Tottenham Hotspur stalwarts Son Heung Min and Hugo Lloris were adamant there is no disquiet in the dressing room, after Spurs' 2-1 English Premier League win over bottom-placed Norwich City yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Before the match, The Sun ran a story about how manager Jose Mourinho is facing player unrest, just months after he was handed the reins last November.

The British tabloid alleged that "senior players" believe the team have regressed due to Mourinho's "long-ball tactics", adding that the overemphasis on long balls, flick ons and throw-ins in training were more reminiscent of lower-league outfits.

Their report also claimed that the Portuguese has "lost" £55.5 million (S$98.3m) record signing Tanguy Ndombele after criticising the French midfielder's fitness and mentality.

However, Son and captain Lloris were keen to dispel such notions. Lloris, who started his first match since a horror elbow injury against Brighton & Hove Albion last October, said: "The atmosphere is great.

"I can tell you all the players are ready to fight for the new manager and his staff.

"We can't control everything that is said outside. But I can confirm the atmosphere is really positive."

Son, who scored Spurs' 79th-minute winner after Teemu Pukki had cancelled out Dele Alli's 38th-minute opener, concurred, adding: "Everyone is happy. The work is good...

"Of course, we want results to be better, we need more points, but we are more than happy. Unbelievably happy.

"We are lucky to have such a positive group."

Mourinho also sung the same tune when asked about the report. He said: "It's a pleasure to be with them, to work with them and to try to help them in such a difficult season.

"Tonight, I saw players really tired going over their limits to try to give us the points, so a happy dressing room."

Mourinho's side had not won in four league games and had failed to find the net in their last three. This drop comes after his arrival led to Spurs winning five of his first seven matches.

Spurs sit sixth in the EPL, but could be overtaken by Wolverhampton Wanderers if they avoid defeat against runaway leaders Liverpool this morning.

Norwich made it an uncomfortable night for Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium when Pukki levelled from the penalty spot in the 70th minute to cancel out Alli's opener, as the Canaries looked capable of earning a vital win in their survival quest.

FIRST LEAGUE GOAL OF 2020

Alli's strike was Spurs' first league goal of 2020, after 398 minutes and 48 shots without success.

But it took Son, once again Tottenham's Plan B in the absence of injured striker Harry Kane, to rescue his side as he touched in Alli's cross from close range.

Despite the win and goalkeeper Lloris' much-awaited return, the north London club were dealt a blow as England midfielder Harry Winks hobbled off with an injury in the 56th minute.

Said Mourinho: "We are in a situation when I have to think, think, think. I look to the bench and we don't have attacking players.

"When Chelsea want to win, they bring on Michy Batshuayi.

"When Manchester City want to change Gabriel Jesus, they bring in Sergio Aguero. We are so, so unlucky with injuries.

"I had to take off Erik Lamela because of fatigue but we showed an incredible reaction to score a second goal.

"How can we change the game? With the family spirit, the family character and desire."

Meanwhile, Norwich are looking increasingly likely to go down, with 19th-placed Watford six points clear of them with 14 games left to play.

Said manager Daniel Farke: "We are all disappointed in the dressing room. It was a fantastic away performance.

"It's difficult when you don't win games because it's not good for the mood or confidence. We deserved at least one point."

Norwich visit Burnley in the FA Cup fourth round tomorrow, while Spurs visit Southampton.

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