Cristian Stellini criticises Tottenham for failing to hold on against Everton
Interim boss Cristian Stellini accused his Tottenham players of being unable to stick to a plan as life after Antonio Conte began in familiar fashion with a 1-1 draw at Everton.
Stellini, who was Conte’s assistant, was taking charge of Spurs for the first time since his fellow Italian’s exit in the wake of his explosive press conference following the 3-3 draw against Southampton before the international break.
And this was an unwelcome sequel at Goodison Park as Spurs were unable to hold on to a lead against 10 men.
Shortly after Everton midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure had been sent off for striking Harry Kane in the face, the England captain put Spurs in front from the penalty spot and the three points looked to be theirs.
But they needlessly invited pressure on to themselves and moments after Lucas Moura was also sent off, Michael Keane scored a searing 30-yard screamer, which moved Everton out of the bottom three.
Stellini said his side had to do “much better” when playing with an extra man.
“This is the way we play the game with an extra man – you have to do much better,” he said. “It’s about intention to keep the ball, to wait to find the right moment to score.
“We had some chances but we didn’t find the way to score. It’s OK, but also you need players ready to move and to respect the plan. The plan was clear in my idea, and with one extra player we can do it better than this, absolutely.
“We did well for all the game, but 11 players you have to control the game with the ball.
“We have to do it 11 against 11 but when you have a team like this in their stadium it’s never easy. With 11 against 10 it has to be easier than this.”
Kane has attracted criticism for how he reacted to the flashpoint with Doucoure as he fell to the floor, though there was no doubt that it was a deserved red card.
Everton fans called the England skipper a “cheat” but Stellini said it was an open-and-shut case.
“The fans are normal. They are unhappy but in my opinion it was a clear red card,” he said. “It happens sometimes. It is normal. With the fans, you have to realise the situation. I think it was a good decision.”
This point represents another step in the right direction for Everton, who are beginning to show resilience and solidity under boss Sean Dyche.
They took the initiative after going down to 10 men and got their reward at the death thanks to Keane’s heroics.
“I am really pleased. I have mentioned the word ownership and they are beginning to own it now,” Dyche said.
“As coaches you can only lay down what you think is correct and it is down to the players to take ownership of it.
“I think they are. They are growing all the time with that mentality. The quality has improved, the physical quality has improved the way we are going after teams.
“We are being more effective as a group and I am very pleased with that.”