Jose Mourinho revealed that their lack of pace was the reason that both Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen were left out of the Tottenham starting XI for their 3-2 Premier League defeat against Wolves on Sunday.
The Portuguese surprisingly benched Spurs’ two Belgium defenders – opting for three at the back, with Eric Dier returning to the side, playing between Davinson Sanchez and 20-year-old Japhet Tanganga in a much-changed defence from last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat against Chelsea.
Sanchez and Tanganga are quite clearly Spurs’ quickest central defenders, which is why they got the nod against a dangerous counter-attacking Wolves side, but it came as a major shock to many when the teams were released and Tottenham’s experienced duo both found themselves on the bench.
Mourinho was asked to explain his defensive line-up – with both Vertonghen and Alderweireld left out.
“Eric [Dier] played very well. I think Eric played very well. So I think if Eric’s performance was not as good I would understand the question but I think it was very good,” Mourinho said. “The thinking was simple, the think i was Davinson and Tanganga are the two fastest central defenders that we have.”
The Spurs Head Coach then went on to heavily praise Dier’s performance.
“Eric is the one who by nature is a midfield player so playing in the middle between those centre backs is the one who is normally more comfortable to step up, he’s more comfortable with reading the game and passing.
“So it was a mixture of giving security but at the same time keeping fast people at the back. I think they played well, especially Eric was very, very good and sometimes you concede goals and you blame goalkeepers and defenders. Other times you concede goals and it is a global situation and I think it was when it comes from a transition. Sometimes when it comes from behind midfield I think it’s not about them.”