"I could never question a manager’s choice of team when we win a game" says former Spurs captain

Monday, February 17th, 2020 4:59pm

By Will Cracknell @WillCrackers

Former Tottenham Hotspur captain Gary Mabbutt said that José Mourinho’s decision to play two defensive midfielders in Sunday’s victory over Aston Villa was justified by the result.

José Mourinho decided to leave Giovani Lo Celso and January signing Gedson Fernandes on the bench at Villa Park, instead opting for the more defensive-minded duo Eric Dier and Harry Winks.

Spurs are now unbeaten in seven games in all competitions as they look forward to hosting Red Bull Leipzig in the last-16 of the Champions League on Wednesday.

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Former defender Mabbutt – who made 477 appearances for Spurs between 1982 and 1988 – is satisfied with Mourinho’s impact since the ex-Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid manager was appointment in November.

Speaking to Matt Beadle and Miles Blumsom on The Final Whistle, Mabbutt said: “The game has been won – that was the aim, to go to Villa Park and get three points from a team battling relegation.

“The way the team played was very organised and I thought they did well. There were lots of individual, defensive mistakes from both sides.

“But overall, I thought having Eric in midfield worked well for us. If Villa were intent on attacking us they knew our counter-attacking game with Moura, Son and players getting forward would cause them problems.

“I could never question a manager’s choice of team when we win a game.

“I thought Bergwijn was outstanding today – his contribution in the last couple of games has been absolutely fantastic."

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Mabbutt then commented on the difficulty Jose faced by coming into the role mid-season following Mauricio Pochettino's departure. 

“It’s very difficult for managers come in during the season at any stage. To come in just before Christmas, when you're playing two or three games every two or three days, and having to try and work out your players, your formations, what works well is an extremely difficult situation to be in.

“I think José saw the situation when he arrived. He moved Danny Rose off on loan to Newcastle, Christian Eriksen’s now gone to Milan, and he's brought in players that he feels are exciting who want to play and make impact. 

“We are now one point behind Chelsea and we've got Chelsea next Saturday which will be a huge game.

“We’re still in the FA Cup and we're unbeaten in our last seven days in all competitions. Overall, going into the new year, I'm actually quite excited.”

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