Jose Mourinho has plenty of sympathy for Dele Alli and others confined to the fringes at Tottenham but the head coach reflected that the “life of a big club” means difficult decisions are necessary.
Alli has started just two of Tottenham’s 11 fixtures this season and, not for the first time in recent weeks, the England midfielder was left out of the matchday squad for the 1-0 win at Burnley on Monday evening.
Mourinho insists Alli plus the likes of Davinson Sanchez and Harry Winks, unused substitutes at Turf Moor, will be given opportunities with the trio set to come into the reckoning for the Europa League trip to Antwerp on Thursday.
And Mourinho insists he takes no pleasure in deciding his line-ups as he knows he must leave out a number of talented individuals.
“I feel very bad we did,” Mourinho said, when asked whether Alli’s omission was because Tottenham have an overabundance of attackers.
“I feel even sad every time I have to write a list of players selected for a game. It’s not just about Dele.
I have to admit it hurts me because they deserve more but this is the life of a top squad.
“If the players understand that on Thursday we have another match and that some people that didn’t play here, they are going to play on Thursday and vice-versa.
“This is the life of a big club. This is the life that I know from my time at Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Chelsea. The boys have to be ready.”
Mourinho revealed he took no chances with Steven Bergwijn and Serge Aurier, both of whom were sidelined by niggles as Son Heung-min took his tally in the Premier League this season to eight goals in the victory over the Clarets.
“Winks and Davinson were in the stands, Dele stayed at home, Bergwijn had a little injury, Aurier had a little injury,” Mourinho added. “It is the kind of squad where little injuries, we don’t need to risks.
“The squad is very good, it is very strong and every match if it’s not Dele the next match will be another one and the next match will be another one.
“I have to admit it hurts me because they deserve more but this is the life of a top squad.”
— Premier League (@premierleague) October 27, 2020
Tottenham moved from 11th to fifth in the standings courtesy of Son’s 76th-minute header after Harry Kane’s flick-on – the 29th time they have combined for a Premier League goal – as a determined Burnley were beaten late on.
Despite starting the campaign in sublime form, Son played down his contribution, telling Spurs TV: “It’s not very important who scores the goal, the most important is the team.
“I’m glad that in such a difficult place that we scored to win this game and get three points to back to London – it’s a very happy Monday.”
Burnley can count themselves unfortunate to suffer another defeat as, moments before his eighth assist of the season, Kane headed James Tarkowski’s header off the line to keep the score goalless.
Burnley remain on one point and without a win this term but Tarkowski is upbeat about their prospects, despite them sitting in the bottom three in the embryonic standings.
“It was probably our best performance so far,” the defender said in quotes on Burnley’s website. “Defensively we were really good, apart from the one moment where they get the goal.
REACTION | "Probably the best performance of the season so far" – @Tarky19 👊 ⬇️
— Burnley FC (@BurnleyOfficial) October 26, 2020
“There were pleasing aspects, it’s just disappointing not to have got something.
“Obviously, it’s a results-based business, so we need to start picking up points but there were plenty of positives to build on going into the weekend.”