Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds highlighted an urgent matter Tottenham's next manager must prioritise
Ryan Mason and his Tottenham side missed a huge chance to up the pressure on the top four on Saturday following an extremely disappointing 3-1 defeat at Leeds United.
With Leicester City falling to a shock loss at home to Newcastle a day earlier and Chelsea taking on Man City in the evening kick-off, Spurs knew that three points would put them right in the mix for a Champions League place come the final day.
However, they were well beaten at Elland Road and perhaps lucky to leave having only conceded the three goals after Hugo Lloris was called into action numerous times over the course of the 90 minutes.
Clearly a bad day at the office after winning their previous two Premier League fixtures, Mason admitted in his post-match press conference that he saw desire and enough from his players despite the poor defeat.
"I did. Yes I did. [Leeds] started well and they had a lot of energy. They're probably the fittest team in the Premier League so we knew it was going to be difficult early on," he explained.
"Unfortunately for us we conceded early on which was tough, but we came back into the game and obviously disappointed to go in at half-time 2-1 down.
"The players showed they wanted to win. They came out and they believed in a certain way. They created chances, created some big moments in that second half where we probably needed to take one at 2-1 and to make it 2-2 would have made it a completely different game in the last 15 minutes.
"We had to open up because we were chasing the game and they caught us on the counter. So a disappointing afternoon for us."Read More Related Articles Read More Related Articles
Stating that Leeds are "probably the fittest team in the Premier League" when reflecting on the loss, that was clear to see during the contest in West Yorkshire.
Making life difficult for Spurs from the very first minute, Marcelo Bielsa's side didn't drop their levels one bit all game and that only highlighted the stark difference between the teams as Spurs began to tire in the closing stages.
Pushing on to restore parity with not long left on the clock, it was all too easy for the hosts as they had plenty of time and space in and around the box with Serge Aurier and a number of others out of position as Raphinha squared for Rodrigo to put the result beyond any doubt.
Known in the past for their attractive style of play and intense pressing game under Mauricio Pochettino, that has been missing for quite some time at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Jose Mourinho even questioned his team's fitness on the opening day of the season against Everton as he hit out as their "lazy pressing" in the 1-0 defeat as they were way off the pace.
While of course Mourinho's ideas differ from those of his predecessor, football.london reported last month that there are concerns over the fitness levels of the squad, which was previously one of the fittest under Pochettino.
The latest defeat in West Yorkshire only put the huge gulf between Leeds United's extraordinary fitness levels and Tottenham's in the spotlight, as well as the fact that the new manager has so much to do if they are going to get back to their previous heights.
As impressive as Leeds were as they took the game to their opponents from the very first whistle, Spurs may have caught Bielsa's side on one of their best days since their Premier League return.
"Considering the fortitude of the opponent and the way in which we attacked and defended, and the possibilities to play pretty much on even terms, it's one of the best of the season," he said of the performance, as reported by Leeds Live.
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"We could have scored more goals, but we could also have conceded some more as well," added the Argentine. "I think that the difference of two goals is adequate, fair.
"To have won by more goals would not have corresponded, even if it was possible. And to have won by only one goal, I don't think would also have been fair, but they could have closed the distance, too."
A day to forget for Mason and his Spurs team as their European aspirations took a severe blow, attention now turns to next weekend's game against Wolves and getting back on track as soon as possible.
However, the 3-1 loss maybe more importantly demonstrated that Tottenham's next manager has so much to do in pre-season if they are to get back to where they want to be in the Premier League.
Leeds United have shown Spurs the way in terms of their fitness and they must follow suit or face the consequences of falling even further behind.