July 29, 2021

Mourinho: Ndombele realised he had to change after slow Tottenham start

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The Portuguese has given “total credit” to the midfielder for turning his career at Spurs around in recent months

Jose Mourinho says Tanguy Ndombele “realised that he had to change’ after his slow start to life at Tottenham.

Ndombele became the most expensive signing in Tottenham’s history when he moved to north London from Lyon for £54 million ($73m) in the summer of 2019.

The Frenchman arrived at Spurs with a sterling reputation as an all-action midfielder with a penchant for breaking up and kick-starting attacks, but struggled to adapt to the demands of English football during his first season in the Premier League.

Mourinho publicly questioned Ndombele’s fitness levels while reducing him to a bit-part role in his squad, leading to question marks over his future.

However, the 24-year-old has knuckled down behind the scenes instead of complaining about his position, and has been rewarded for his efforts in the first half of the 2020-21 campaign.

Ndombele has appeared in 23 games across all competitions already, scoring three goals, helping Tottenham emerge as trophy contenders on multiple fronts.

Speaking ahead of his side’s trip to Sheffield United on Sunday, Mourinho praised Ndombele for turning his career around, telling Sky Sports: “I always say, and I’ve really felt it all through my career, that the big responsibility for good and for bad is [with] the player.

“We don’t make miracles. We don’t make players when they have no quality and when they have no desire and no discipline and no motivation. So for good or bad, it’s always the player’s responsibility and we are the ones who can try to help.

“Sometimes they are open for that and other times they are not. When they are not, there is nothing you can do, but when they are open, you feel that motivation to help them.

“When Tanguy arrived here his condition was not good. When I arrived he was getting small injury after small injury which I believe was his responsibility.

“And for him to realise that he had to change, and work in a different way, is to his credit. Yes, he is playing and playing well. We are happy with him. But, I repeat, it’s total credit to Tanguy.”

Spurs are currently sitting sixth in the Premier League table, six points behind leaders Manchester United, but Mourinho believes the current standings paint a misleading picture.

Asked if the team at the summit will keep changing as the season progresses, the 57-year-old responded: “I think so yes.

“Postponed matches can create a strange view. The table will always have a strange look and give a strange idea of reality.

“You can look at the table, but you need to look also at how many matches a team has played or how many have been at home.”

Mourinho added: “For some time it’s looked obvious to everybody that it’s proving difficult for every team to be consistent.

“You can, for example, look at [Manchester United] and say, yes they are leaders of the table, but they have already lost in two competitions, the Champions League and the Carabao Cup.”