Mourinho pleased just to get the job done as Spurs look to build on shoots of recovery
When it all comes down to the business end of a season, extracting a precious result is all that matters. Theatrics, if necessary, can be dispensed with. The certainty of such a message is as old as the game itself.
You imagine this was the broad, pragmatism for Spurs as they headed south of the river to try and earn a place in next season’s Europa League. All that had to be underscored was to better rivals Wolves’ result at Chelsea.
Fortunately, a relatively off-colour performance mattered little as a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park against a Crystal Palace outfit playing for pride and not much else, was sufficient for a team that reached last season’s Champions League final, under former boss Mauricio Pochettino.
A 12th minute Harry Kane goal seemed to set Spurs on their way, but Jeffery Schlupp’s second half equaliser for the Eagles raised anxiety levels a touch. However the news that Chelsea were beating Wolves 2-0 kept Jose Mourinho reasonably satisfied as the game reached a rather scuzzy conclusion. “Goodbye season,” as the Tottenham manager put it.
The Portuguese knows this campaign hasn’t been straightforward, with a lack of consistency and injuries to key players affecting rhythm at times. Therefore, it was unsurprising that the Portuguese appeared relieved to see the end of 2019/20, played out behind closed-doors due to Covid-19 notwithstanding.
"Today was not easy and when Palace scored, it was the time for me to want to know what was going on at Stamford Bridge,” admitted Mourinho. “When I was told 2-0 (Chelsea beating Wolves) I thought that’s the moment, also I didn’t feel the team was really strong to attack the victory.
“I made a decision then that we needed to control the game in a different way, to get the point, qualify, and goodbye season. Goodbye season and we go to the Europa League draw.”
The Spurs chief is already putting a positive spin on the conclusion to this term.
"Of course, everybody that one day plays Champions League doesn't want to go back and play Europa League - but it was the only thing possible after such a difficult season for the club,” Mourinho added.
"Arriving 14th and handling things is not bad at all. I am quite happy that next season we play in the Europa League and it's just a question to motivate ourselves for that competition and try to motivate the fans to support us and do something beautiful."
As for Kane, his 18th goal of the season Kane was a relief. “The draw was enough in the end. I don’t think we played as well as we would have liked. We saw the game out well,” the England forward noted, with a sliver of understatement.
Palace, meanwhile, finish the season in 14th place with a total of 43 points, comfortably safe from harm.
And manager Roy Hodgson did, at least, avoid the unwanted statistic of overseeing eight successive defeats, which would have been a club record.
Schlupp’s goal, driving home from close range in 53 minutes, was a fair reward for a hard-working display and to end the season on a brighter note.
“I thought it was a very positive performance against a real top quality side,” said Hodgson, of Palace’s overall perseverance. “If any team was to win in it, it could’ve been us; we shaded it in that respect.
“The important thing was to break this very unfortunate run of results that we’ve had, where I don’t think fate has been very kind to us.
“We never gave up. We created chances in the first-half and in the second-half got our reward, so we are very satisfied with that and it breaks that sequence, which was an important thing to do as well because it is not a sequence that one wants to carry with you.”