Jose Mourinho called out Gareth Southgate during Friday’s press conference, urging the England coach to reveal which club managers are pressurising him to protect players during international breaks.
Tottenham face Manchester City on Saturday, just three days after two of his key men – Harry Kane and Eric Dier – started England’s 4-0 win over Iceland.
By contrast, Raheem Sterling missed Wednesday’s game, but Mourinho fully expects the City winger to be available come the weekend:
We all know Sterling will play tomorrow (Saturday).
Mourinho’s pointed challenge to Southgate comes after the England boss recently revealed he is aware of players coming under pressure to return to their clubs early.
“The players want to play for England,” Southgate said. “They are in a really difficult situation. They are under huge pressure from their clubs. That is going on in the background, for sure.
“That is the landscape, whether it is made public or not. That is the reality. It manifests itself in different ways but that is what happens.”
'Say who' - Mourinho urges Southgate to reveal managers who pressurise players
Mourinho wants Southgate to declare which Premier League managers are attempting to steal an advantage by pressurising the England coach.
"Southgate... he supposedly said some club managers, they put pressure not to play for the national team and because of that he feels the need to call them to try to cool down emotions and try to control the situation," Mourinho said on Friday.
"I would like him to say who. I would like him to say which are the coaches who put pressure on the players not to go. I would like him to say which are the coaches that he calls and speaks on the phone with them.”
Mourinho’s reference to Sterling clearly suggests he believes Pep Guardiola is one such manager applying pressure on Southgate. Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson was another to leave the camp early, although he will miss Sunday’s home fixture with Leicester.
Raheem Sterling did not feature for England against Iceland
Image credit: Getty Images
Mourinho made clear his belief that players who cannot play for England should not be able to make a miraculous recovery three days later:
"When Eric Dier left the national team injured (in October)... he didn't play two matches for Tottenham. He needed a couple of weeks to recover but Raheem is going to play tomorrow... These are the details I think Gareth should explain."
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Saturday represents the biggest test of Tottenham’s title credentials so far this season. After eight games, Spurs sit one point off the top of the table, knowing either leaders Leicester or champions Liverpool will drop points this weekend.
A win over City could leave Spurs top of the pile and put eight points between themselves and Saturday’s opponents even at this early stage of the season. Mourinho, though, is remaining cautious:
Son Heung-min is available after returning a negative Covid-19 test following the international break, but Tottenham will have to wait on the fitness of Harry Winks.
Mourinho celebrates a year in charge of Spurs this weekend, and the landmark arrives with his team in the best form of his reign. A win on Saturday would make it six wins in their last seven outings.