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 the game 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.
Substitute Roberto Firmino drilled home an added-time winner as Liverpool won an enthralling Champions League opener 3-2 at home to Paris St Germain.
Last season’s beaten finalists had squandered a two-goal lead given to them by Daniel Sturridge, on his first start for the Reds in the competition, and James Milner’s penalty inside 36 minutes. However, PSG enjoyed a stroke of luck with the absence of an offside flag in the build-up to Thomas Meunier pulling one back and when Neymar and Kylian Mbappe combined for the latter to score seven minutes from time it appeared the damage had been done.
However, Firmino struck in the second minute of added time as Jurgen Klopp’s side began another European adventure in dramatic style.
Liverpool had impressively kept at bay the visitors’ feared forward line of Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani – scorers of 101 goals between them since the start of last season – for 83 minutes. But the Brazil international and the French World Cup winner combined after seizing on a late opportunity to seemingly inflict more Champions League pain on the Reds just 115 days after the heartbreak against Real Madrid in Kiev. Firmino proved there was nothing wrong with his focus with a dead-eye shot across a crowded penalty area to win it.