A tetchy Mauricio Pochettino accused journalists of disrespecting his players after Tottenham opened their Champions League campaign with a 2-1 defeat at Inter Milan.
Spurs were on course for a win at the San Siro after Christian Eriksen put them ahead, but they capitulated as goals from Mauro Icardi and Matias Vecino in the final eight minutes of action gave Inter the points.
It was the first time Tottenham have lost three times in a row under Pochettino, who opted to leave World Cup semi-finalists Kieran Trippier and Toby Alderweireld at home.
The Argentinian was asked whether he regretted not bringing the pair to Milan, which he did not take well.
“Against Watford and against Liverpool, they were on the pitch. Wow, what a question, such an easy question eh? You know, easy target,” he said.
“(It’s) easy to talk about the players that aren’t here. I think we need to talk about football. Because, you know I think you force me to say something that is not good.
“You disrespect the players that today showed better qualities than the opponent.
“Why disrespect the players that aren’t on the pitch? You can blame me and say, ‘Gaffer, you were so, so rubbish in your selection of the starting XI’.
“But please don’t disrespect the players who were playing, because it’s my decision. Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld…. we have 25 players.
“And you believe that and sometimes you behave like you ask me with your question, that you can play only 11 and the other 13 or 14 players are rubbish, are s***.
“Sorry, but I am so disappointed because I am a person that respects you a lot and the players.
“When my decision is to play with XI, you must respect my decision because I am the manager.
“You show too much disrespect for the players who play in the position as the players you have given me the names of now.
“I don’t understand. Sorry. You are so kind people, but I don’t understand why. Why? Please.
“To be a player is so difficult, and of course for me it is easier on the touchline. I don’t run. It is so painful to hear when some people are not here, and you judge in that way and you kill players who give their best. It’s so unfair.”
Pochettino’s side ought to have had it wrapped up long before Icardi struck a wonder goal in the 86th minute.
After going in front through Eriksen’s deflected effort eight minutes into the second half, Erik Lamela had several opportunities to add to the lead.
And they paid the price as Icardi levelled with a sublime first-time volley from 20 yards and then Vecino headed home from a corner deep into injury time.
Despite the loss, and the increasing worry for Spurs that a difficult season is on the horizon, Pochettino claimed this was the best performance of the campaign.
“The performance was good from the team, the result should have been different and I think everyone will agree,” he offered.
“The performance was better than Inter Milan but when we conceded after 86 minutes the game was completely different.
“The team deserved much more and I think that was our best performance since we started the season. But we lost the game. ”