José Mourinho has said his Tottenham squad is overstocked and that he has “too many players” to manage comfortably as he prepares to bring in Gareth Bale and Sergio Reguilón from Real Madrid.
Spurs squeezed past a nine-man Lokomotiv Plovdiv in the Europa League second qualifying round on Thursday and Mourinho left eight first-teamers at home, including Dele Alli and Toby Alderweireld. He was still able to field a side packed with senior players and they were fortunate to go through given that, with 10 minutes to play, they were a goal down in Bulgaria.
Questioned on whether Alli, who was substituted at half-time in the defeat by Everton on Sunday and has been linked with a move, would return to the side against Southampton this weekend Mourinho suggested his options needed slimming.
“You ask me about Dele – you could ask me about the other seven players we left behind,” he said. “To be honest I don’t like the number of players I have in my squad. It is very, very difficult to manage in every aspect of my job. Very difficult to manage this situation, too many players.”
Tottenham are particularly overloaded in midfield but, against that, an unusually compacted fixture list means squad rotation may be more important than ever. Mourinho was critical of the Premier League’s decision to cut back from nine substitutes, an allowance imposed after last season’s restart in June, to the standard seven.
“I think it’s another brilliant decision to only have seven players on the bench, the only country with that,” he said. “It is a big limitation for coaches. I also think [having nine players] could give us more chance to rest more players to manage the situation.”
Tottenham face the Southampton on Sunday, Leyton Orient in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday and then travel to Macedonia to play Shkendija on Thursday. If results go their way they could end up playing nine games in 21 days and Mourinho was, not for the first time, scathing about the schedule.
“This is a joke, a total joke, but here we go. We are very lucky that Leyton Orient beat Plymouth, because Plymouth would be very, very far for us. It is dramatic but I prefer this drama and to be in the competition.”
Centre-forward is one position Mourinho does need to bolster and Spurs had an approach turned down this week for Danny Ings. They will come up against him at St Mary’s and Mourinho made little effort to hide his admiration for the 28-year-old. “Ings is a threat. He is a player that scores a lot of goals and every time he plays against us he gives us a lot of problems. He is a player we have to respect.”
Bale and Reguilon are due in London on Friday to finalise their moves to Spurs, which will be a loan and a £27.6m transfer respectively.