Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho says it’s going to be “very, very hard” to finish in the Premier League’s top four after losing 2-1 at West Ham, who are into the Champions League places.
Michail Antonio’s fifth minute goal and a Jesse Lingard strike just after half-time put the hosts 2-0 up, before Lucas Moura’s header reduced the deficit.
The result leaves Spurs nine points off West Ham with 13 games remaining and Mourinho is pessimistic about their chances of making that ground up.
“It’s very difficult to think about the top four”, he told Sky Sports.
“The top four, five, six, they are getting points. It’s going to be very, very hard.
“The Europa League is a great motivation, not easy, but a great motivation because it can be a way to get a Champions League spot and at the same time a trophy.
“I think the boys showed in the second half, they fight, and when the team fights, you have to believe that good things can come.”
Gareth Bale made a big impact off the bench at the break, providing the corner for the Brazilian’s goal, before rattling the crossbar with a long-range strike shortly after.
Spurs forward Gareth Bale reacts to hitting the crossbar against West Ham
Image credit: Getty Images
That followed a goal and an assist in the Europa League on Thursday night, but Mourinho says the on-loan Real Madrid forward’s not yet able to perform at that level over an entire match, so soon after playing another.
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“I know his quality, I cannot say everything to you, I shouldn’t, I don't want”, said the Spurs boss, appearing to suggest there are other issues.
“I believe that as a coach I don’t have to speak too much about the situation.
“We are trying everything with him to recover him to be at a good level, but for example to play 65 minutes Thursday he could not start the game, he wouldn’t have 90 minutes to give us.”
West Ham have just one defeat in their last 11 top flight matches and a sixth win in eight has seen them rocket into the top four, though manager David Moyes is keeping his side grounded.
“We’ve only done half a job”, said the former Manchester United and Everton boss.
“If we continue this way, we’ll be close, so I don’t want to be negative in any way, it’s a great result for us.
“We’re enjoying it, but we’re also not going to go daft, it would be stupid to say anything, and we’re going to keep calm about it and hopefully keep pushing and pressurising the teams near the top.”