Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho said it is impossible to keep his whole squad happy after a largely second-string Spurs side beat Royal Antwerp to progress to the Europa League last 32 as Group J winners.
Mourinho has stuck to a fairly consistent first XI in the Premier League this season, and has been rewarded by them leading the table with 11 games played.
However, he once again took the opportunity to rest players on Thursday, including in-form attacking pair Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, instead giving minutes to the likes of Gareth Bale, Carlos Vinicius and Harry Winks.
Some rose to the occasion, with Vinicius tapping in the opener after visiting goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand palmed Bale’s dipping, long-range free-kick on to the post.
Giovani lo Celso was the best player on the pitch, capping his display with a neat finish for the second, laid on by substitute Kane.
Others, though, endured a frustrating night, including Harry Winks, who departed down the tunnel straight after being substituted, and Dele Alli, who did not feature at all and also left the bench briefly after Mourinho had made his fifth and final change.
“I can’t keep the squad happy,” Mourinho told BT Sport. “I believe they are happy because we are winning but they’re not happy because they’re not playing.
“Every player that left the pitch I told them to go to the shower because it was cold. Some decided to go and some decided to stay.
“It’s an impossible job to keep every player happy and if you go to every club people who don’t play aren’t happy.”
On Alli in particular, he added:
“Let’s not run away from reality. A player on the bench who realises all five subs have been used of course is not a happy player and I would not expect him to be happy.”
England midfielders Alli and Winks have started just four games each this season. The former’s last start in the Premier League was the first game of the season, while the latter’s was in September.
It was noticeable how much more energetic and dangerous Spurs were when Kane and Son were introduced, resulting in the second goal that sealed the win.
As group winners, Tottenham will be in the seeded pot for Monday’s draw, which should bring them a more favourable tie in the last 32. Antwerp join them as unseeded group runners-up.