Jose Mourinho refused to discuss any of Tottenham Hotspur’s potential transfer dealings following the 1-0 home defeat to league leaders Liverpool, choosing instead to flag the impressive performance of Japhet Tanganga.
The 20-year-old was handed his Premier League debut in the encounter, with the unenviable task of nullifying both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
His only previous first-team experience was September’s Carabao Cup defeat at Colchester, but he was a highlight as Spurs went winless in four games across all competitions for the first time since November 2016.
Tanganga’s first contribution was a powerful header to clear the ball in the first ten seconds and his second ensured Mourinho’s defensive plan lasted for 36 minutes rather than two.
Stationed on the right of Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez on the night, he superbly blocked Roberto Firmino’s goalbound effort.
The Brazil international did eventually get the better of him in scoring the winner, but Mourinho still had every reason to salute his defensive wildcard post-match.
“I think the kid has reason to be very happy with his level, not with the result obviously, but with his first game in the Premier League,” the Tottenham manager said.
“It couldn’t be a bigger one and he did it amazingly. First on the right and then on the left, first Mane and then Salah, and I think he was fantastic so I don’t want to take any credit for that.
“I worked with him only for a couple of months. I think academy, coaches who worked with him for so many years.
“I think it’s a good moment for him and I think it’s also a message for the kids in the academy that when the player is the right player with the right attitude and right qualities, the opportunity arises.”
When Mourinho was quizzed over a potential move for Gedson Fernandes and whether Christian Eriksen, booed by his own supporters, was closer to exit, he again spotlighted Tanganga.
“The last thing I want to do after this performance is talk about new players,” the 56-year-old said.
“I think it’s a way to show respect to these guys is to not talk about new players. Can we say Tanganga is a new player? Can we say that? He never played a match for Tottenham in the Premier League. Today he played and today he proved that he can play for us.
“It’s a pity that he’s not a striker, it’s a pity that he’s not a midfield player, but he’s one more player that we have. So I think Mane and Salah, they know who Tanganga is. They didn’t know before the game. I think when they saw the list they wondered where this guy plays. I think now they know.
“The kid was really good so instead of speaking, or crying about Harry Kane and [Moussa] Sissoko and [Hugo] Lloris and Ben Davies, let’s smile with Tanganga.”