José Mourinho says rival players go to ground ‘when somebody blows on them’

José Mourinho says rival players go to ground ‘when somebody blows on them’

José Mourinho has strongly defended Harry Kane against allegations of diving but claimed players at Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City are on the floor “when somebody blows on them”.

Tottenham’s manager was responding to claims that Kane manufactured a penalty during Sunday’s home win over Brighton. The former England internationals Gary Lineker and Martin Keown were among those who criticised Kane for deliberately positioning himself to make contact with Adam Lallana unavoidable, while making no attempt to win the ball.

“Harry Kane win a penalty?” Mourinho said. “Perhaps you’re speaking about players at other clubs, and they do it and they do it so well, but for sure you’re not speaking about Harry Kane. Harry Kane was in a position to control the ball in a dangerous position and Lallana comes in, a very dangerous action, and commits a foul. Lallana was reckless. He made a mistake.

“Speak about Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, clever guys where somebody blows on them and they are on the floor. Speak about those guys, not Harry Kane. When I say I want my team to be clever I’m not speaking about winning penalties, I’m talking about winning 2-1 against a very difficult Brighton and controlling the end of the game.”

Kane has insisted he “tried to put my body in between the player to shield the ball” and that Lallana “jumped into the back of me with quite a bit of force”. Mourinho’s defence of Kane follows Jürgen Klopp’s denial that Mohamed Salah dived to earn a penalty against West Ham on Saturday.

Tottenham’s manager was speaking before Thursday’s Europa League game away to Ludogorets and believes it is vital to avoid defeat following last week’s loss at Royal Antwerp. Spurs will be without Sergio Reguilón, who has a non-Covid virus, as well as the injured Érik Lamela and Serge Aurier, after a poor display in Belgium where “we were waiting for the victory to find us, not for us to find the victory”.

Tanguy Ndombele missed the Antwerp match but is in line to feature against the Bulgarian side. After a difficult first season in north London the Frenchman has become a much more integral member of the team this term, starting 71% of league matches compared with last year’s 32%.

Moussa Sissoko, who has described Ndombele as “my little brother”, says the player is finally settled and content. “You can see this year he’s happy to be part of the team and showing his quality on the pitch,” he said. “Some people need time to adapt and Tanguy needed that time. Now the past has gone, he’s doing well, he’s happy, and everyone is happy with what he’s doing.”

But Mourinho, who was publicly critical of the 23-year-old last season, remains guarded in his praise of a player who is yet to complete a full league game this campaign. “I was not happy at all with what he was giving us [last season] but in this moment I am happy,” he said. “I still think he can do better, his potential is huge. So is he doing well? Yes. Am I happy with him? Yes. But I think he can do more, he can be fitter, he can give us 90 minutes without problems, he can be better than he is.”