Football News

Spurs boss Mourinho’s ‘scapegoating’ of Ndombele was unjustified, says Murphy

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 12:04, 9 March 2020

Danny Murphy has criticised Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho for making Tanguy Ndombele a “scapegoat” in the wake of the north Londoners’ 1-1 draw with Burnley.

The 23-year-old French midfielder started the Premier League encounter at Turf Moor but only played the opening 45 minutes before making way for Giovani Lo Celso at half-time.

Ndombele’s struggles at Spurs: Five key things to know…

  • Tottenham signed Ndombele for a club record fee of £53.8m in July 2019.
  • He’s struggled to hold down a regular starting berth in Spurs midfield, having started just 12 of their 29 league matches.
  • Ndombele has only completed the full 90 minutes on three occasions and just once under Mourinho.
  • Mourinho singled him out for playing below par in their recent 1-1 draw at Burnley.
  • Former Spurs midfielder Danny Murphy, though, feels Mourinho was harsh to make him a “scapegoat”.

Since replacing Mauricio Pochettino at the backend of 2019 the much-travelled Portuguse tactician has sparsely used Ndombele, who arrived in north London from Lyon last summer for a reported fee of £53.8m – the most Spurs have ever spent on a player.

A number of Europe’s top clubs, notably Juventus and Real Madrid, were rumored to be keen in acquiring his services and Ndombele’s arrival was seen as a coup for a side determined to build on reaching their first Champions League final.

But it’s proven to be a challenging first season in England for the France international, who has only made 13 appearances under Mourinho in all competitions from a possible 25 and this latest outing could be his last for a while.

“In the first half we didn’t have a midfield,” Mourinho said after the game. “But I’m not going to run away and I have to say he [Ndombele] has had enough time to come to a different level.

“A player with his potential has to give us more than he is giving us, especially when you see how Lucas [Moura], Lo Celso and those players are playing. I was expecting more in the first half from him.”

This scathing assessment, though, didn’t set well with former Spurs midfielder Murphy who believes Mourinho was letting a number of other underperforming players off the hook.

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“It was unjustified, to be honest,” he said on Match of the Day.

“There were at least six of them, seven of them, that were not quite at the races in the first half. We are also talking about Burnley’s quality and tenacity and willingness to get at them and stop them playing.

“Ndombele was no worse than half a dozen others. So I think it is harsh to use him as a scapegoat. All in all, you cannot blame Ndombele for the first half. Burnley were quality and Tottenham were tactically wrong.”