Same players, different coach, and a change of fortune for Tottenham Hotspur.
Ryan Mason took over from Jose Mourinho on Monday, becoming the youngest manager in Premier League history, and effected a change in Tottenham’s attitude and fate as they came from behind to beat Southampton.
Under Mourinho, Tottenham had thrown away more points than anyone from winning positions, and had lost all six previous games when they had been behind at half-time.
But Mason, 29, inspired his new charges, three of whom are older than him, to recover after Danny Ings had put Southampton ahead on the half-hour mark but limped off injured shortly before. Gareth Bale equalised on the hour mark. Heung-Min Son scored the winner with a late penalty, having had an earlier goal disallowed by VAR’s intervention.
It was Tottenham’s first win for a month, and took them up to sixth, two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
Mason, promoted from academy coach when Mourinho was sacked on Monday morning, had barely 36 hours to prepare and said: “It’s been a whirlwind and the win was a massive relief.
“It was tough at first and Hugo had to make two world-class saves, but we got better as the game went on.”
Mason made three changes from the side that drew at Everton last Friday, with Harry Kane injured. But they started nervously, playing as cautiously as a Mourinho side, and fell behind when Ings headed in from a corner after 30 minutes. But Mason motivated the Spurs players in a way Mourinho could not, and they were much the better side after half-time.
Bale equalised with a delicious curling shot and Son thought he had equalised 15 minutes later, only to see referee David Coote change his mind after VAR alerted him to Lucas Moura’s offside position.
But in the final minute of normal time Sergio Reguilon was fouled on the edge of the penalty area, VAR persuaded Coote to upgrade from a free-kick to a penalty and it was tucked away by Son. The result will appease those supporters demoralised by the club’s slump in form and also being signatories to the Super League.
Around 50 fans protested outside the ground beforehand, but Mason said: “I didn’t see them and to be honest all my focus and energy has been on preparing for this game. I had to shut out the noise around me.” Mason can now look forward to Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester City with more confidence than before, whether or not Kane recovers.
“Harry is working hard to be fit, and it’s a day-by-day situation. It’s important to go into a big game on the back of a win, with belief.”
Lloris 8; Aurier 7, Alderweireld 8, Dier 8, Reguilon 7; Ndombele 6 (Winks 72), Hojbjerg 7; Bale 8 (Bergwijn 83), Lo Celso 7 (Lamela 79), Son 7; Moura 7.
McCarthy 6; Walker-Peters 6, Bednarek 6, Vestergaard 7, Salisu 6; Walcott 5 (Djenepo 67),Ward-Prowse 6, Armstrong 7, Tella 6 (Redmond 84); Ings 7 (Diallo 57), Adams 5.
David Coote 6