Stunned Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho accused his players of not respecting their jobs after his side crashed out of the Europa League following a 3-2 aggregate defeat by Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday.
Leading 2-0 from the first leg in north London, Tottenham were overwhelming favourites to reach the quarter-finals but produced a tepid performance as Zagreb stormed back with a sensational hat-trick by Mislav Orsic.
Coming after his side were heavily criticised for a poor performance in Sunday’s north London derby loss at Arsenal, Mourinho suffered one of the most chastening defeats of his glittering managerial career.
While Orsic’s hat-trick, completed early in extra time, was world class, Tottenham’s performance was feeble in the extreme and they capitulated after halftime.
“If I forget the last 10 minutes of the extra time where we did something to get a different result, in the 90 minutes and the first half of extra time I saw one team left everything on the pitch, they left sweat, they left energy, they left blood and in the end they left tears of happiness,” a grim-faced Mourinho told BT Sport.
“On the other side my team, and I am there, didn’t look like it was playing an important match and if for any of them it’s not an important match for me it is, for the respect that I have for my career and my own job.”
It was only the third time that Champions League-winning manager Mourinho had lost a match in a European competition by a three-goal margin and the second with Spurs after last season’s Champions League drubbing by RB Leipzig.
He also suffered a three-goal defeat against Borussia Dortmund while at Real Madrid. But this felt far worse.
Tottenham great Glenn Hoddle, a pundit for BT Sport, described the display as “diabolical”, adding: “They lost the plot but they also lost their heart.”
Mourinho said he was beyond sad at Tottenham’s exit from a competition in which he had earmarked as a route to silverware and the Champions League.
“I just left the Dinamo dressing room where I went to praise them and I feel sorry that one team, that is not my team, won the game based on attitude and compromise.
“I feel sorry that my team is the team that didn’t bring to the game not just the basics of football but the basics of life which is to respect our jobs and to give everything.”
Tottenham’s season is now in danger of unravelling.
They are eighth in the Premier League ahead of Sunday’s game against Aston Villa and while they are in the League Cup final, few will fancy their chances against Manchester City.
Mourinho was hired to replace Mauricio Pochettino because of his record of claiming trophies.
But after Thursday’s surrender, the winning mentality the club’s owners hopes he would instil looks as far away as ever.