Jose blames 'beach ball', VAR absence for draw

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has made a bizarre gripe about the ball that was used during Tottenham's 1-1 FA Cup third-round draw against Middlesbrough on Sunday, claiming his players could not impose themselves as it was "too light".

Spurs need to face Championship outfit Boro again next Tuesday for the replay after failing to add to Lucas Moura's strike, which cancelled out Ashley Fletcher's opener.

It is another match Mourinho's men could do without - they have five fixtures from now to Feb 2 - given their raft of injuries, notably Harry Kane, who is out until March.

Barring absentees, Spurs put out a full-strength side at the Riverside and the team, on paper, should have put away their second-tier opposition.

The visitors, however, have conceded first in eight of Mourinho's 12 games in charge and their soft underbelly was again evident against Boro.

But the Portuguese insisted that Fletcher's goal should have been ruled out had there been a video assistant referee (VAR), before hitting out at the difference in weight between the Premier League and Cup match ball.

Only top-flight stadiums have VAR technology, so it was absent on Teesside.

"This ball is a beach ball. It's too light. I don't think it helps the players," he told BT Sport.

"The Middlesbrough goal is offside. VAR would give (the decision)."

Mourinho, though, hinted that he would again field his best possible line-up in the replay as Spurs look to end a 12-year wait for silverware.

He said: "We wanted to win but we knew it would be difficult. We managed to bring the game to our stadium.

"It's a game we don't need, our squad is short with so many problems - but it's a game at home and we have to go for it."

Revealing he was experimenting with different attacking formations in Kane's absence, he added: "Because we have no striker, I want to give Son (Heung-min) and Lucas the chance to play together as a more dynamic double striker pair.

"But (Erik) Lamela and (Giovani) lo Celso give us more ball."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2020, with the headline 'Jose blames 'beach ball', VAR absence for draw'. Print Edition | Subscribe