Spurs will look to make sure of their place in the last 16 of the Europa League this evening as they welcome Austrian minnows to north London.
Tottenham boast a commanding 4-1 aggregate lead in this round of 32 tie after goals from Heung-min Son, Gareth Bale, Lucas Moura and Carlos Vinicius secured a thumping first-leg win in Budapest last week.
However, that morale-boosting victory was followed by yet another domestic blow suffered against London rivals West Ham – their fifth defeat in the last six Premier League games.
Jose Mourinho has remained defiant amid talk of a crisis and speculation over his own position, while the Portuguese will be eager to avoid an almighty shock in Europe tonight.
The Europa League now looks like Tottenham’s sole route back into the Champions League next season, with their torrid top-flight run leaving them ninth and nine points adrift of the top four.
Dan Kilpatrick is at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium tonight, so stay tuned for live updates with Standard Sport’s blog below…
Mourinho trying to save Tottenham job?
Dan Kilpatrick believes Mourinho’s defiant press conference display on Tuesday felt like an attempt to save his job at Tottenham…
Tottenham’s most significant performance of this week is unlikely to come in Wednesday’s Europa League match against Wolfsberger, with the last-32 tie already something of a foregone conclusion after their 4-1 win in the first leg.
Instead, it will surely be Jose Mourinho’s display in Tuesday’s pre-match press conference.
Appearing over Zoom, Mourinho spoke for 25 minutes on his positivity, past successes and confidence he could arrest Tottenham’s slump.
His final line was a characteristic zinger, expressing his unwavering self-belief and awareness of his own place in history.
Mourinho: I will be remembered at Spurs for ‘good reasons’
Mourinho also feels he is now better equipped as a manager to deal with criticism and insists he will be remembered at Tottenham for “good reasons, not bad reasons.”
“Thank god I am not the manager I was! Thank god!” he said.
“I would not be as calm and confident and in control of my emotions because during my career I had sometimes problems. Not in relation to results – I did not have many bad runs of results.
“But with day-to-day problems that happen many times in clubs with all of us, I reacted previously in a much more emotional way and instead of helping myself and the ones around me, I was even creating a kind of conflict situation.
“With more experience, we are better equipped to cope with negative moments. I am calm. I am in control of my emotions and I can not switch on and switch off. I am happy and unhappy. My nature does not change. I lose a game and of course I am not happy. But maturity hopefully helps.
“I feel very confident and I believe we are going to improve and I believe that I will be in Tottenham’s history for the good reasons and not for the bad reasons.”
‘Positive’ Mourinho in defiant mood
Jose Mourinho was in typically defiant mood at yesterday’s pre-match press conference, insisting that he remained positive and “more motivated than ever” to turn Tottenham’s woeful form around.
“I want to know which coach at the end of his career can say everything was blue sky and never a little bit grey, cloudy or even dark,” he said.
“Unless it’s a coach that was always in dominant clubs in countries, then it’s more difficult to have difficult moments but I think it just show how beautiful my career has been.
“Does this make me happy? No. Does this make me depressed? Not at all.
“It’s a challenge. I always feel that I work for the clubs, I work for the players, for the supporters of the club. I always feel that I have to give them so much and the fact I’m giving them hard work but not the results of course hurts me and is a great challenge for me because I believe I can give it.
“I gave it everywhere I have been and I’m more motivated than ever and I believe that. At least it is what I feel.
“I never felt what normally coaches feel when the results are bad. When the results are bad normally the coach is a lonely man.
“That’s what we normally are and in this club I never felt that. Never. I always felt, not just respected but always felt supported, that everyone is together in the same boat.
“By one side nobody is happy but by another side nobody is depressed and I feel positive. Maybe it can look a bit weird for you, losing so many matches and your positive but yes I’m positive.”
Tottenham predicted XI
Here’s how Standard Sport’s Dan Kilpatrick sees Tottenham shaping up in N17 tonight…
Hart; Doherty, Alderweireld, Tanganga, Davies; Winks, Sissoko; Lucas, Dele, Bergwijn; Vinicius.
Tottenham team news
Steven Bergwijn is also pushing for minutes, having slipped behind Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela in the pecking order for League games.
Giovani Lo Celso is back in training but remains unavailable, along with the injured Serge Aurier and ineligible Joe Rodon.
A number of youngsters including Dane Scarlett and Jamie Bowden can expect to be on the bench for Tottenham tonight.
Tottenham team news
Jose Mourinho says he will name “a very similar” side to the one that beat Wolfsberger 4-1 in Hungary last week for tonight’s Europa League last-32 second leg against the Austrians, writes Dan Kilpatrick.
But with one foot already in the next round, Mourinho can afford to rest Heung-min Son – who played 45 minutes in the first leg – paving the way for loanee Carlos Vinicius to lead the line.
The Spurs manager revealed on Tuesday that he is still having to manage Gareth Bale’s minutes, so there is a chance the Welshman will remain on the bench and be saved for the crucial home match against Burnley on Sunday after he changed the match against West Ham as a substitute.
Joe Hart could come in between the sticks after club captain Hugo Lloris played the first leg, while Japhet Tanganga may get a rare opportunity at centre-half alongside Toby Alderweireld, who Mourinho has already confirmed will start.
Standard Sport prediction
Tottenham 2-0 Wolfsberger
Spurs were clinical in the first leg, allowing – you’d imagine – Jose Mourinho to play a weaker team six days on.
Spurs should again dominate, though perhaps not rack up a thumping win.
How to watch Tottenham vs Wolfsberger
TV channel: Today’s match will be televised on BT Sport.
Live stream: BT Sport subscribers will be able to watch the match online via the website or BT Sport app.
Date, time and venue
Tottenham vs Wolfsberger is scheduled for a 5pm GMT kick-off today – February 24, 2021.
The match will be held behind closed doors at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.
Welcome to Tottenham vs Wolfsberger coverage
Hello and welcome to Standard Sport’s latest LIVE coverage of the Europa League.
This evening’s action comes at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where Spurs will look to put aside talks of a crisis over their Premier League form by easing through to the last 16.
Jose Mourinho’s side hold a commanding 4-1 lead over Austrian minnows Wolfsberger following a big first-leg win in Budapest last week and an exit on home soil seems absolutely unthinkable.
Standard Sport’s Dan Kilpatrick is in attendance in N17 tonight, so stay tuned for the latest build-up, team news and live updates!
— to www.standard.co.uk