Mourinho wants two more signings, tells Bale what positions he’ll play in and his Ndombele plan


The Son and Kane Show

After an underwhelming and uninspiring first half, somebody switched the channel over and The Son and Kane Show had begun.

With the homecoming of Gareth Bale, this is exactly what his signing was meant to do, kick everyone else up a notch and shake up the established order.

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The Welshman will not be fit until next month but a natural consequence of his arrival is that, even subconsciously, Spurs’ current stars will want to show that they are still the main men.

Both Son Heung-min and Harry Kane were unstoppable, especially in the second half.

The South Korean star was as clinical as they come with his four goals. Almost every time he was put through on goal, he calmly took the ball on and fired home.

His two goals either side of the break was sucker punches to the gut for a Southampton side who had looked much brighter than their visitors.

Dropping into a slightly deeper role behind him, Kane had an even better game if that’s possible.

Indeed, as he walked down the touchline for his post-match interviews at St Mary’s, Jose Mourinho interrupted Kane’s own interview with the club to proclaim: “Man of the Match, for me, Man of the Match. Team performance, Man of the Match.”

The Spurs boss even slightly awkwardly interrupted Son’s interview with the BBC to tell him that Kane was his man of the match. The always polite and humble Son agreed.

The England captain was superb though. Having had two ‘goals’ ruled out by VAR for offside because of team-mates, he then laid on all four assists for Son and topped his day off with his own goal as well.

He became the first Englishman to provide four assists in a single game since the Premier League was formed.

It’s days like this that show just how much of an all-rounder Kane is – a clinical, bruising number nine and simultaneously a creative, incisive number 10.

He’s like Rooney, Sheringham and Shearer all rolled into one package and he doesn’t get the recognition for his all-round game and link play he deserves.

In his prime Jan Vertonghen was probably Tottenham’s best left-back despite being a centre-back. Likewise Kane is probably Spurs’ best playmaker despite being a striker.

If Mourinho can just work out how to get his cloning device up and running, the north London outfit would be sorted.

If anything Kane probably doesn’t do it enough. He’ll come deep and spread the play with fantastic first time curling passes to the wings, but he would get far more assists if he came back into the number 10 role more often.

Son Heung-min and Harry Kane enjoyed themselves against Southampton

That will be down to the natural greed all the top strikers which requires him to be in the box more than outside it.

However, it will be interesting to see whether when Bale starts to play in a mouthwatering attacking trident, the trio all take turns in being the furthest forward which could bring out Kane’s all round play even more.

In return he will get more service from the duo – something Lucas Moura just doesn’t provide much of despite his strengths – and that’s without the new flying full-back pairing of Sergio Reguilon and Matt Doherty.

Mourinho is going to have to figure out how to fit all the pieces into the puzzle.

“In the second half Harry Kane in my opinion changed the game,” said Mourinho afterwards.

“His movement was tremendous, his link play was absolutely incredible and he allowed Sonny to play in a different position on the pitch.”

He added: “I know that everyone will say Sonny is Man of the Match because it’s an incredible achievement to score four goals in the Premier League, but I am a team coach, I am all about my team, and what Harry did for us is an example of the guy who is not going to have the highlights on him, but is fundamental for the team.”

Tanguy Ndombele played a major role in Son Heung-min’s goal at Southampton

That Ndombele and Lo Celso switch

There was uproar among Spurs fans when Tanguy Ndombele did not reappear for the second half and was replaced by Giovani Lo Celso.

The 23-year-old Frenchman had just pulled off a quintessentially Ndombele moment, turning like prime Mousa Dembele between two players before hitting one of his quick instinctive balls through to Kane, who set up Son for the psychologically damaging Spurs goal just before the break.

Ndombele’s half had been somewhat mixed. He showed some bright moments but also struggled at times in what was a disjointed midfield with Harry Winks and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg operating too far behind him.

However, that instinctive, game-changing moment before half-time showed what he can bring to Tottenham so his removal at the break confused many.

When looked at in context though it made sense. Ndombele has been working hard with Mourinho and the coaching staff to improve his fitness following a tough first season, capped off by a knee injury and then other health issues.

The Spurs boss has been delighted with the Frenchman’s response since returning and the two have spoken about how they will build up his game time as he gets fitter and fitter.

Ndombele looks leaner and fitter at St Mary’s and he’s noticeably keeping up with the fast Premier League transitions better than he was.

He’s not there yet though and there were still moments when he was caught trying to track back and what cost him probably another 15 minutes of action on the pitch was a yellow card for a tough tackle before the break.

He bounced straight back moments latter with that wonderful pirouette but Mourinho decided that the agreed plan to bring on Lo Celso in the second half had to be stepped up slightly.

He could not afford for Ndombele, as his fitness levels dropped against a quick moving Southampton side to get caught lunging and picking up a second yellow card.

So Lo Celso came on, having been shattered himself after his first minutes of the season in Bulgaria, playing all 90 against Lokomotiv Plovdiv.

The change worked perfectly at St Mary’s and the Argentine was a driving force for Tottenham, swiftly involved in Son’s second goal just 93 seconds into the second period.

While Son and Kane linked up brilliantly up front, much of the work beforehand came through Lo Celso.

“No, [Tanguy] was not injured, but we all know that his condition is not yet top condition and that is why we are playing him basically coming from the bench,” Mourinho explained afterwards.

“Gio Lo Celso was very, very tired and he clearly wouldn’t be able to play 90 minutes. We decided to play Tanguy but we had planned that Gio would come into the game in the second half.

“The yellow card left Tanguy in a difficult position in the same way Romeu was in a difficult position and could possibly get a second yellow card during the second half.

“I didn’t want that to happen to Tanguy in a game against Southampton, which is always fair and honest but an aggressive game in lots of ways. I was just afraid and Gio is in this moment still has a little bit more sharpness than Tanguy and second half was fantastic for us.”

Jose Mourinho introduced Giovani Lo Celso at half-time at Southampton and the change proved crucial

Mourinho is playing it carefully and cleverly with Ndombele and Lo Celso.

In a midfield weighted more towards defensive midfielders who are limited offensively, the Frenchman and Argentine are his mavericks.

Lo Celso has the bite, aggression and workrate Mourinho demands on top of his playmakers’ creativity and Mourinho is bringing that out of Ndombele, that yellow card a product of that somewhat.

Both players have had their niggling injury problems since joining Tottenham and Mourinho wants to bring them to full fitness in the right way without setting them back.

Ndombele and Lo Celso will be key players in Mourinho’s midfield armoury particularly if he unleashes the new attacking trident up front.

For now one or the other will play, but eventually, when they’re both up to speed, they will be able to play together with a holding midfielder and they will wreak havoc.

It’s worth noting that Hojbjerg excelled in the second half after dropping back further and sitting in front of the back four, mopping everything up.

Playing there he and Mourinho might just be able to unlock the very best of Ndombele and Lo Celso.

Dele Alli

The Dele Alli situation

If Dele Alli’s absence from the squad for a second successive away trip wasn’t concerning enough, Mourinho’s answer to a question about the 24-year-old made sure of it.

“Do you want to keep Dele Alli?” he was asked.

“I want a balanced squad, that’s what I want,” was the answer.

“Can Dele be a part of that balanced squad or does he have to be sacrificed?” was the follow-up question.

“Yes [he can be a part of it]. No he doesn’t need to be sacrificed, but the squad is a puzzle,” admitted Mourinho cryptically.

When he was asked earlier whether Alli would be leaving the club, Mourinho did not seek to swat away the rumours, instead stating: “I’m not responsible for the market. I don’t know how to answer your question in relation to that.

“The only thing I can say is that I left eight players behind. They stayed and trained this morning because they are a big group and Dele is amongst these players.

“You could see our team. I cannot start with all of them and I cannot have a bench without defenders or midfielders. In the same way the squad is a puzzle, the bench is also a little puzzle.

“So to have on the bench Toby and Serge, and Moussa and Gio, and Lamela, and Bergwijn. I cannot have on the bench four wingers or three wingers and a No 10, and then no defenders.

“Everything is a puzzle so in these matches that he stayed out, probably Tuesday he will play and others he will stay out.”

Mourinho told football.london in the week that Alli had not reacted angrily to his half-time substitution against Everton.

However, to be left out of the next two squads entirely suggests all is not right in the relationship between the two men.

The message coming out of Spurs is that they do not expect Alli to leave the club during this transfer window and that he is a part of Mourinho’s plans. The Portuguese’s responses suggest otherwise.

The irony is that Mourinho has always been a big admirer of Alli. Sir Alex Ferguson gave him only one bit of advice at Manchester United and that was to sign the young midfielder.

When he arrived at Spurs, Mourinho famously asked Alli whether it was him or his brother who was currently playing for the club such had been the drop in his consistency and form.

The Portuguese was taken aback by the England international’s lack of effort on the Hotspur Way pitches, the All or Nothing series showing him calling him out for his ‘lazy training’ to his face, to chairman Daniel Levy and in front of the squad.

He was also shown picking Alli out in another team meeting for casually walking away from his own box to leave Ben Davies exposed before giving away a penalty in the home game against RB Leipzig last season.

Other players were picked out but it showed that if Alli thought he was going to get any special treatment from Mourinho, that’s not going to be the case.

As Mourinho told him, he only works you hard if he likes you.

Only three weeks ago, the Spurs boss was agreeing with the claims of Eric Dier that what Alli was doing in pre-season was exciting those within the club and more like the Alli of old before the hamstring problems and dip in form.

This week’s absence of the player and Mourinho’s refusal to swat away rumours of his exit suggest that whatever Alli was showing stopped.

Tuesday will bring the player a chance to prove himself, albeit on a smaller stage at Leyton Orient, and he needs to take his chance.

While a loan move away might give him a change of environment for a while and bring a hefty fee into the club, it would be a missed opportunity to not be able to see how he links up with Bale and Reguilon.

Bale relished playing alongside Rafael van der Vaart and there’s nothing to suggest that Alli can’t challenge Lo Celso and Ndombele for that role but he has to prove to Mourinho that he wants it.

Form is temporary and class is permanent and Alli has smashed records over the years at Tottenham, outstripping the stats of the Premier League’s legendary attacking midfielders and he’s still just 24.

Mourinho’s squad is being carefully improved with some thrilling signings and if Alli is not a part of it this season then it will be the player himself and the Spurs fans who lose out.

New Tottenham Hotspur signing Sergio Reguilon

The changing defence

Tottenham’s defence still looks shaky but it’s about to get a new look which could help Mourinho define it’s long-term set-up.

The arrival of Reguilon, voted the best left-back in La Liga last season, changes the dynamic of Mourinho’s back four entirely.

The 23-year-old Spaniard is defensively sound but is an even more of an attacking threat, with one stat claiming that he took on more opponents with dribbles last season than Ben Davies has managed in his entire career.

The Welshman was one of Spurs’ better defenders on Sunday, pulling off one vital block when the game was in the balance, perhaps with Reguilon on his mind.

However, he’s going to be second choice to the Spaniard, who had a wonderful season on loan for Sevilla on the way to a fourth place La Liga finish and winning the Europa League.

Playing both the Spain international and on the other side Matt Doherty, who had a tough day at the office at St Mary’s, means Mourinho cannot operate with his usual advanced right-back with Davies forming a back three in possession.

One solution is to play with a back three, which will suit Doherty and unleash Reguilon, but it does mean he must sacrifice someone further up the pitch.

It also means he then can’t play Son and Bale on either side of Kane without either having cluttered flanks or the two attackers being forced inside and getting in Kane’s way.

Another option is to have Hojbjerg acting in the same way Eric Dier did in his second second under Mauricio Pochettino, sitting in front of the back four but prepared to step back as a sweeper and split the centre-backs in order to make it a back three at times.

Whether the Dane can do that though is unclear. Ironically Juan Foyth would have been perfect for the role but his future appears to lie elsewhere.

One thing is clear. The current set-up does not look stable.

Toby Alderweireld has not started the past two matches and Dier is looking more shaky than dominant. Davinson Sanchez struggled on Thursday in Bulgaria with a couple of mistakes but grew into Sunday’s match.

Tottenham will look for a new centre-back once they have signed a new striker and after they have brought some money into the club by selling Danny Rose and moving on Foyth and Cameron Carter-Vickers.

They will also loan out Ryan Sessegnon to get him plenty of minutes as a left-back, with a number of Premier League sides and clubs around Europe set to compete for his services, ensuring Spurs should get a decent loan fee for the 20-year-old from the auction.

A move for Paulo Gazzaniga could also be considered if the Argentine wants to move on, having dropped to third choice at the club.

Tottenham have an interest in South Korea international Kim Min-jae and Mourinho will have to decide whether the 23-year-old can make a quick impact in the Premier League or be more of a long-term project.

Mourinho is a big fan of the highly-rated Ruben Dias, also 23, and will have been monitoring the situation at Benfica after they were knocked out of the Champions League qualifying rounds.

Dias reportedly has an £80million release clause but Tottenham would want to pay far, far less for the Portuguese and could well test the waters if they sense Benfica are looking to balance their books after missing out on the riches of the Champions League. They would not be alone though in wanting the talented centre-back and that would drive up his price.

Mourinho needs a fresh option in the centre of the defence, with academy product Japhet Tanganga also to come back from his thigh injury next month.

For a man who prides himself on watertight defences, Mourinho will be smarting at how his current bunch is performing and he will want to put it right sooner rather than later.

Gareth Bale is back at Tottenham Hotspur

A new striker and the positions Bale will play in

Gareth Bale’s conversation with Mourinho before he signed on the dotted line suggest he will not be simply playing on the right and cutting inside.

“I spoke to him prior to coming over. He’s spoken to me about a few positions that he would like me to play and obviously I’m happy with that,” he said in his interview with former Spurs team-mate Peter Crouch for BT Sport.

“Obviously he’s a big key incumbent, he’s a household name, he’s a winner and I think he’s the perfect fit for Tottenham.

“We all want to win trophies and he knows how to better than anyone so hopefully this season can be that season. What every Tottenham fan wants is a trophy so we’ll be trying as hard as we can in every competition to do that.”

He added: “I’m comfortable across the front. I feel like on the left I can go down the line, cross it in, on the right, my right’s actually not too bad at crossing, not so much shooting, but I can cut in on my left and shoot.

“In the middle I feel comfortable because I can go either side and I can drop off. Obviously I’ve been playing on the right a lot of my career towards the end now. I’m happy to just be on the pitch to be honest.”

Mourinho will likely use him on both flanks and at times as a number 10 behind Kane and he’s also capable of playing as a false nine.

On what his game will look like compared to the player who left Spurs in 2013, he admitted: “I’m not going to be doing those 90 yard runs down the wing every second, I understand my game a bit more, it’s evolved a little bit but I still think I have a lot to offer.

“I still have my pace. I’m excited for the season to show what I can do. We want to win things so I’m just going to try and help the team as much as I can to do that.”

He added: “You’re able to play your best football when you feel that love from the fans.

“Coming back here, knowing I was going to get a good reception – I love the club, I loved my time here, and to come back and feel that emotion, hopefully now we can kick on this season, try and win a trophy, if not two, and try and enjoy my football and try and give the fans something to smile about.”

Mourinho is well aware that he is going to have to wait for Bale, who will not be match fit until after the international break in mid-October.

“A coach always likes to have the best players in his squad. Gareth, when fit and in condition, is one of the top players in Europe, and Sergio [Reguilon] was amazing last season in Sevilla,” he told football.london.

“So if you ask me if I’m happy to have these players I have to say yes I am but there are other things that make a team and make a squad.

“A squad is a puzzle, a squad is a puzzle and in this moment our squad is not a puzzle and that’s a problem that we have to understand.”

Mourinho wants players out the door from his now bloated squad, with five new signings coming in and only Kyle Walker-Peters departing. The right-back was already on loan in the second half of last season.

The Tottenham head coach wants players out the door and that new striker and a centre-back to come through it.

Mourinho confirmed on Sunday that he still wants a new front man before the transfer window closes.

Top targets such as Danny Ings and Andrea Belotti look to be out of reach financially and difficult to prise away to play what would be less minutes at Tottenham compared to Southampton and Torino respectively.

Spurs have also made enquiries about a string of more traditional target man types playing across the continent and will look to narrow down that list to give Mourinho a different option to Kane and someone who can play off him.

Mourinho is not currently satisfied with Tottenham’s transfer window.

He wasn’t exactly brimming with excitement the day after Spurs’ double coup in the market.

The Portuguese doesn’t seem delighted despite the five signings made all addressing problems in the squad with four of those newcomers improvements to his starting XI.

However, if chairman Daniel Levy can deliver him another striker and a centre-back while shipping out unwanted players then Mourinho would have benefited from one of Tottenham’s most successful transfer windows in recent memory.





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