Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Tanguy Ndombele has been criticised by Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher, who described the Spurs man’s off-the-ball efforts in their last Premier League game as “nothing short of a disgrace”.
Ndombele has been in and out of the Tottenham side since Jose Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino as Spurs head coach, and was handed a rare start in last Saturday’s trip to Burnley, handed a deeper role in midfield alongside Oliver Skipp.
However, he failed to have much of an impact on the game and, with Tottenham trailing 1-0, Mourinho hauled the £54million man off at the break, with Spurs going on to claim a 1-1 draw.
The Portuguese publicly criticised Ndombele after the game, being quoted by The Mail as saying: “In the first half we didn’t have a midfield… of course I’m not speaking of Skipp because he’s a kid of 19 who’s played two hours in the last few days. I don’t criticise him at all.
“But I’m not going to run away and I have to say he [Ndombele] has had enough time to come to a different level. I know the Premier League is difficult, and some players take a long time to adapt to a different league.”
While admitting that Mourinho’s choice for going public on criticising Ndombele was “a different debate”, Carragher thought the player was worthy of criticism given his display against Burnley.
“His performance was nothing short of a disgrace in terms of his effort off the ball,” Carragher told Sky Sports. “On the ball, he was very good, but off the ball, you can’t believe what you’re seeing.
“He just seems to walk about and not move until the ball comes near him. He likes to tell other people what to do. He was hiding and eventually one of the three centre-backs had to look beyond him with a long ball and they often then lost possession.
“I guarantee those three centre-backs will be on the coach or the plane on the way home saying, ‘I don’t enjoy playing with him’, how bad was that when we had the ball…. there was no one to pass the ball to’. That’s the biggest problem.”
As a former player who boasted extensive experience in defence for club and country, Carragher is one of the most qualified pundits to know and explain just how frustrating it is to have a midfielder who doesn’t seem to be pulling his weight during a game, hence his rebuke of Ndombele appears harsh but it’s hardly misplaced.
However, even Carragher wasn’t particularly convinced about Mourinho laying into Ndombele publicly, which is what a lot of people are having issues with – by all means, lay into a player in the dressing room, but as soon as you make it public, then things could get complicated and messy.
How will Ndombele react to the criticism? Will he step up his game in a bid to prove his coach wrong, or has he mentally begun looking for a new job? We’ll see tonight.