Tottenham Hotspurs gaffer has stressed the need for his players to get accustomed to empty stadiums as they prepare for the realities of football after the COVID pandemic.
Spurs lost 2-1 to Norwich in recent friendly as they got a feel for playing without the backing of their fans, with the match divided into four periods of 30 minutes to give more players the chance to get some meaningful time on the pitch.
“It was a good training session,” Mourinho told the club’s website. We needed minutes, we needed to know the feeling of playing here without our supporters and to have this training session with another Premier League team is the best thing.
We have to adapt to this new reality, which is what we tried to do, to have a feeling of playing with an empty stadium.
The points are there to fight for, and with or without fans, the points are there on the pitch and ourselves and United will have to fight for them.”
Harry Kane, Moussa Sissoko, Heung-Min Son and Steven Bergwijn were all involved, having recovered from injuries during the shutdown.
“We decided to mix them and to give almost the same amount of minutes to everyone,” Mourinho said. “We didn’t want any players to be into the limits of fatigue and of course nobody played the four period.
“What we work on tactically we do in the training ground but the match was much more about competing, getting minutes, intensity and it’s very important to do it and to have this last week without any injuries.
We all know that in these first matches, and in the friendlies, there’s also the risk of getting some injuries.”
Spurs were on the back foot begore football was suspended by the pandemic and will have a huge amount of work to do to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
They lie eighth on the log, seven points behind fourth-placed rivals Chelsea, and four behind Manchester United in fifth place, which is also set to be a Champions League slot given Manchester City’s current ban, pending the outcome of their appeal.
On the face of it, their nine-game run in looks less daunting than it might, with only Manchester United – their first game live on Sky Sports behind closed doors on June 19 – and arch-rivals Arsenal their traditional top opponents remaining.
However they also face Champions League-chasing Leicester, Sheffield United, who are deservedly in the hunt for Europe, and two sides battling against relegation in Bournemouth and another local rival in West Ham.