Jose Mourinho has refused to explain his comments about Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld’s absence against Newcastle last weekend and accused the media of “playing games” over his remarks.
Mourinho sparked confusion at Spurs by claiming Alderweireld did not travel to St James’ Park for Sunday’s 2-2 draw because he had only joined training on the day before the game after returning late from international duty.
But as revealed by Standard Sport, Alderweireld had in fact been with the squad for three days ahead of the match, with photographs and video released by the club on social media showing him in sessions on Thursday and Friday.
In the wake of Joe Willock’s late equaliser and more dropped points on Tyneside, Mourinho also criticised his squad, quipping “same coach, different players” when asked why his sides no longer seem able to protect leads.
Mourinho was late arriving on Zoom for his 12.30pm BST Zoom press conference to preview Sunday’s visit of Manchester United and eager to leave early for a staff match at the training ground, due to start at 1pm.
Asked to explain his comments about Alderweireld, Mourinho claimed he had no case to answer and suggested the media was guilty of sensationalism.
“I can’t clarify and I can’t clarify because you [the media] spoke about it for the whole week,” he said.
“You play the game, enjoy the game during the whole week and now I want to enjoy my game at one o’clock.
“Now I’m here to answer to the question that you already answered for the whole week. There is nothing for me to clarify. If I have to clarify, I clarify with my people and not with the people who know everything and wrote and spoke and sold papers and with audiences on radios and TVs.
“You don’t even pay me a percentage, so I’m not going to play the game. Let me play [my game], I’ve been working in the gym for two weeks for this game and now I’m going to arrive late.”
Mourinho was also asked how his players had reacted to his public criticism at St James’ Park but responded similarly, suggesting he was unhappy with newspaper reports which claimed members of the squad were irked by his comments.
“I’m not going to answer to your question because for the whole week, everybody spoke about it, everybody took for granted what they were writing, what they were saying,” the Spurs manager said.
“So I don’t feel comfortable to come five or six days later to make comments about something people write and speak like if they know everything.
“I don’t think I want to go in that direction. I prefer to play or to let you play your game, I mean the media in general, I let you play the game we’ve had during the week and I just want to play our game at 1pm.
“I don’t want to play that game.”
In a possible dig at Mourinho, his United successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last month claimed trophies sometimes act merely as an ego boost for managers and described League form as the “bread and butter” of the job.
Second-placed United are 11 points clear of Spurs ahead of Sunday’s meeting but have not won a trophy since Mourinho’s tenure.
“It’s his opinion,” said Mourinho in response. “But I’m pretty sure his big boss Sir Alex [Ferguson] had a different opinion about it. But I respect what Solskjaer thinks. I think different.
“Freedom of thinking, freedom of ideas, and if that is what he thinks that is fine by me. It’s not a problem for me, he’s not being disrespectful to anyone.
“But I repeat I believe his big boss, and the biggest in Premier League history, has a different view in relation to that.”
Mourinho is working with a significantly reduced wage budget now he has swapped United for Spurs but he insisted he is not jealous of the resources of his former club or League leaders Manchester City.
“I enjoy to work in my club,” he said. “I enjoy to do what we are doing and I am not jealous of the ones that can do other things. I would love my players to get the same contract as David de Gea or Kevin De Bruyne. I would love them to get that money.”
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