Jose Mourinho’s controversial decision to take off “brilliant” Tanguy Ndombele with 20 minutes remaining of Tottenham the draw against Wolves was mystifying.
That is the view of Alan Hutton, who made his comments in exclusive conversation with Football Insider correspondent Adam Williams ahead of Spurs’ meeting with Fulham tonight.
Spurs went 1-0 up through Tanguy Ndombele at Molineux and then retreated, as has become customary, looking to spring forward only when a counter-attacking opportunity presented itself.
But they were fortunate to hold on to their lead for as long as they did.
When Romain Saiss equalised five minutes from time, it came as no surprise to anyone, least of all Alan Hutton who said that Mourinho had brought it upon himself after adopting a misguided conservative approach, manifesting itself in Ndombele’s withdrawal with 20 minutes remaining.
“People are figuring out how to play against them,” he told Football Insider.
“They had such low possession. I think they had one shot in the second half, and it was a free-kick. That’s not good. That’s not what we want to see. They could have lost the game in the end.
“I think there’s a way they can play against the bigger team that does work – how he has been playing. But I think against everybody else he has to change his formation to suit.
“Ndombele has been brilliant in recent weeks. It’s taken time for him to settle in but we’re now seeing the best of him. He was the guy that could have made something happen.
“As a fan, you’re sitting at home asking ‘what are you doing? Why are you taking our best players off?’
“So the result has to be down to the manager. He’s the ones that’s shaping them up and telling them how he wants them to play. So he has to take a lot on the chin.”
After such optimism throughout October and November, Spurs have won just once in the league in December.
The mood at the club has not been improved by the news that Gareth Bale is set to be out for weeks with a calf injury.