Jose Mourinho has held up Tanguy Ndombele as the shining example of how to fight your way back into the Tottenham team.
Mourinho has warned he is fed-up of players “moaning and being frustrated” and instead wants to see them knuckle down just as £55m record buy Ndombele has done.
That was a clear message for out-of-favour Dele Alli in what Mourinho said as the England midfielder was fed-up after being left out for two games and was substituted in Tottenham’s Europa League win on Thursday night after only an hour.
But it looked an even worse state of affairs for Ndombele just a few months ago as he appeared to be on his way out of Tottenham after being substituted at half time at Burnley in March, left out in the cold by Mourinho and seemed determined to return to France after just one season.
However, Mourinho revealed he has held heart-to-heart talks with the 23-year-old who is also now fully fit after frustrations with injuries and struggling to adapt to English football.
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Spurs boss Mourinho said: “That’s what I want. I don’t want players to moan, I don’t want players to be feel frustrated, I don’t want players to feel that I have something against them when I don’t pick them up.
“I want players to fight for the minutes that they want to be on the pitch and when you play for Tottenham, you have to understand that Tottenham wants to be better and for the rewards are to be better and better and the players cannot have a comfortable position on the pitch.
“They have to be ready to fight for the minutes they want to be on the pitch.”
Mourinho clearly likes what he now sees in Ndombele with his ability on the ball mixed with his power and strength to dominate in midfield.
Clearly, Mourinho wants end product from his players and, while Alli is struggling for form and confidence, goals and assists will be hard to come by.
But Mourinho insists Ndombele is evidence that things can change quickly. “I just think that he felt the direction which it was going was not the right one and it’s something that players with me, they feel all of the time that I don’t give positions for free,” said Mourinho.
“The players have to fight, they have to perform, I would never give him a place in the team because he was an expensive buy or because he’s an important player.
“He has to do that by himself, probably with the help of his colleagues, with the help of his team mates, he went in a good direction.
“Let’s wait and see, Premier League matches are much more difficult matches than this one. The intensity is completely different, the quality of the opponent is much better. But against Southampton, even for 45 minutes, he had positive things.
“I say all the time, when a player improves it’s a player’s responsibility, it’s the player’s credit, it’s not the coach who makes the miracle. The player that does that by himself, to understand what he has to understand and go in the right direction that he has to go.
“Tanguy, step by step, is doing very well. He was good and brought a very good dynamic to the team, he managed to recover some balls, managed to make an effort in defensive transitions. And of course it was a positive game for him.”
Tottenham: Lloris; Doherty, Alderweireld, Dier, Davies; Ndombele, Sissoko, Winks; Lucas, Son, Kane.
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