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'Same coach, different players' - Jose Mourinho defiant after latest setback

Tottenham edge ahead of Liverpool into fifth but are still two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with eight games left.

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho.
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho.
Image: PA

TOTTENHAM’S BID for a top-four finish in the Premier League suffered a setback as Joe Willock’s late strike rescued a 2-2 draw for lowly Newcastle, while Aston Villa also aided the Magpies’ bid for survival by beating Fulham 3-1 on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho’s side were just five minutes away from moving into fourth place thanks to Harry Kane’s first-half double.

Joelinton had put Newcastle ahead and Steve Bruce’s men were rewarded for a much-improved performance when on-loan Arsenal midfielder Willock smashed in off the underside of the bar five minutes from time.

Tottenham edge ahead of Liverpool into fifth but are still two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with eight games left.

“I’m frustrated. We needed to win the match. We created some instability with so many individual defensive mistakes that we made,” Mourinho said.

Asked why Tottenham have struggled to hold onto leads when his teams have been so solid defensively in the past, Mourinho replied: “Same coach, different players.

“The Premier League is hard and is high-level football, and when in some actions you don’t show that you belong to that high level of football, it’s difficult.

“I’m not being disrespectful to Newcastle, but I think that is a match to win, so the result is not a good one.

“If I analyse the performance, separate it from so many mistakes that lead to instability and instability leads to hope in the opposition, if I want to analyse it separate from that, I think we were good, I would say very good in some moments.

“But I cannot do it. The game belongs to every moment and I cannot separate the game from these moments of instability, and that’s the reason why we didn’t win the game.”

Willock’s goal could prove invaluable for fourth-bottom Newcastle as they moved three points clear of Fulham in a big day in the battle to beat the drop.

Bruce dismissed suggestions of a split in the camp after seeing his side fight back.

The Magpies have endured a dreadful run of form which has now seen them win only two of their last 21 games in all competitions and slip deep into relegation trouble.

However, head coach Bruce is convinced there is a unity within the dressing room that can get them out of trouble.

He said: “That is the big thing that frustrates us all, a so-called mole in the dressing room, certain players unhappy, blah, blah, blah, the spirit is not good, this nonsense.

“A lot of players here have been here a long time and it matters to them. A lot of them were playing today who have been here four and five years, and there’s a certain spirit amongst them which they need to have because they’ve got to be at full tilt to get something out of the Premier League week in and week out.

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“I’ve got no problems with the spirit amongst them. They’re a really really good group who want the club to succeed.”

Newcastle got off to the perfect start against Spurs when £40million striker Joelinton, who had not found the back of the net in the league since November 27, a run of 16 games, scored just his fourth goal in the competition with 28 minutes gone.

However, their joy was short-lived as Kane levelled within two minutes and then fired the visitors in front four minutes later, on both occasions profiting from awful defending.

The Magpies, however, refused to be beaten and got their reward with five minutes remaining when Arsenal loanee Joe Willock smashed home an equaliser off the underside of the crossbar to snatch a 2-2 draw, prompting wild celebrations on the sidelines.

Bruce had taken a series of bold decisions ahead of kick-off, handing midfielder Matt Ritchie a first appearance since the pair were involved in a training ground bust-up.

The former Manchester United defender said: “In management, I never hold a grudge. As soon as I have a row or a disagreement, whatever you want to call it, it’s forgotten the next day as far as I’m concerned and we move forward, simple as, and Matty is the same.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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