Mourinho apologised to Dier for first-half substitution
- Tottenham manager replaced Dier in tactical switch at 2-0 down
- ‘He is an intelligent boy with a good understanding of the team’
José Mourinho felt compelled to apologise to Eric Dier after substituting him after just 29 minutes of Tottenham’s 4-2 Champions League win over Olympiakos, which ensured the club’s qualification for the last 16 of the competition.
Spurs were awful in the first-half – they trailed 2-0 after 19 minutes – and Mourinho said he had swapped Dier for the more attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen for the balance of the team. He already had one deep-sitting midfielder on the pitch in Harry Winks.
Dele Alli gave Spurs a lifeline with a goal in first-half stoppage-time before Harry Kane and Serge Aurier put them in front after the interval. Kane rounded off the scoring with his second of the evening – his 20th goal in 24 Champions League appearances.
“The most difficult moment of the game for me was not when Olympiakos scored the first or second goal but when I made the change in the first-half,” Mourinho said. “Hurt the player but hurt myself. It’s important the player understands and I was lucky that my choice was a very intelligent boy who has a good understanding of what the team is. It was not about his performance.
“We were losing 2-0 in a very difficult moment and one positional midfield player was more than enough. I apologise to Eric, in spite of the fact he knows I did it for the team and not with the intention to hurt him.”
Spurs took control of the game with Kane’s equaliser for 2‑2 – after the quick-thinking of a ballboy. He returned the ball swiftly for a throw-in to allow the team to break upfield.
“To do that you have to be a very good ballboy,” Mourinho said. “I was a very good ballboy between 10 and 15 or 16 years old. The kid understands the game, reads the game. He’s not there just to look at the stands, the lights or the stars. He’s there to watch the game. I tried to invite him to the dressing room at the end but he disappeared.”