Harry Winks fires veiled attack on Tottenham boss Nuno over tactics, dividing team and wants showdown talks over future
HARRY WINKS has launched a veiled attack on his Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo.
The midfielder pointed the finger at the Portuguese’s tactics in Spurs’ 1-0 Europa Conference defeat at Vitesse Arnhem by saying the Dutch underdogs were the better team and played more creative football.
He also claims Nuno’s decision to leave at home all of his stars starting Sunday’s Prem clash at West Ham and send Winks and his fellow frozen-out squad members across the Channel to play in UEFA’s latest tinpot Thursday competition has created a divide in the squad and dented morale.
He admits he is mystified how he has gone from England regular to being unable to get a game for Spurs in under two years and he is planning showdown talks with Nuno over his future.
Winks spoke out after the defeat at Vitesse where Tottenham hardly managed a worthwhile shot on target.
The Spurs stalwart, 25, said: “We weren’t good enough, we didn’t play well enough.
"It was a tough game, they’re a good side and at 70, 75 minutes when the game was open and stretched, it was a case of ‘if we can’t win, then don’t lose’.
“We did the complete opposite.”
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Spurs, despite Nuno’s 11 changes, still fielded nine internationals, although their bench was full of kids.
Winks said: “We’re Tottenham and whoever goes out on the pitch, we should be winning these kind of games. There’s no excuses. We didn’t play well enough.
“They outfought us, they outplayed us. They played a better way, with more creativity.
“In my opinion, they completely dominated us. It’s not good enough. It’s not good enough for Tottenham.
“We’ve got to come to these places and dominate and win. It wasn’t good enough.”
It was not the first time in recent seasons Tottenham had shown their weak underbelly in Europe.
Winks said: “There’s a few different reasons as to why. First of all, as players we hold our hands up. We weren’t good enough. We’re the ones on the pitch, we’re the ones that have to go out there and play. There’s no excuses.
“But it’s difficult when you don’t play regularly. It’s difficult to come into these games when teams have fans behind them, they’re up for it
“When you only play one game every few weeks, it’s difficult to match that energy, that tempo and their confidence.
“There’s a lot of different reasons why we weren’t good enough this year and last year in these competitions. Ultimately as players we’re not performing well enough and as well as we should be.”
Winks was clearly unhappy with Nuno’s announcement this week that all of his starting XI for Tottenham’s Premier League clash at West Ham tomorrow would be staying in London to prepare for that match.
It meant the likes of Winks, Dele Alli and Co travelled to Arnhem feeling like a second string.
Winks said: “It is tough, yeah. We’re meant to be a team. It’s meant to be competition. It’s meant to be competitive.
“Everybody should be fighting for weekend games and it’s difficult. Motivation should be everybody fighting for the same cause and the same thing.
“It’s difficult. But when we go out on that pitch and we’re not playing in the first team, we’ve got to put that right, make a point and show the manager we should be playing in the team.
“And when we lose in the way that we did, we don’t do that. It’s down to us but there’s a lot of factors behind that.”
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As a despairing Winks spoke with passion – the hurt showing in his eyes – it is easy to forget he only won the last of his 10 England caps against Iceland in the Nations League last November.
Now he is struggling to get a game at Spurs.
Asked if he could understand his dramatic fall from grace at Tottenham under first Jose Mourinho and now Nuno, he said: “No. No, I can’t. But listen, the circumstances are that I’m in this situation. Everybody’s in this situation.
“We want to win for Tottenham, to win games and pull in the same direction. But when you’re not playing regularly, it’s difficult. Difficult to get that confidence as a team.
“But it’s important everybody knows we are fighting to play for Tottenham.
“The motivation is to get into the team and perform regularly but like I keep saying if we don’t perform when we get chances, it’s down to us.”
Winks, Tottenham through and through, has been at the club since he was aged five.
Asked if he is happy – which clearly he is not – he said: “Listen, I love Tottenham, I’ve always made that clear, but I want to play football. And I want to play regular football.
“The only way to play your best football and get momentum is when you’re playing regularly.
“Listen, I’m giving my all for the club, of course I am.
“They’ve stuck by me, I’ve stuck by them – and I want to play for Tottenham.
“But it is difficult when you’re only getting matches here and there. Confidence is low and you don’t get that run of games. It is difficult.
“I want to be at my best, firing and playing really well. It comes with games. But ultimately it comes with me performing on the pitch when I get the opportunity.
“If I’m not doing that, then I only have myself to blame. I’m man enough to admit that I need to improve in certain areas.
“But on the contrary, I need to play games and the only way to do that is getting minutes and getting that sharpness back.”
Winks has made just one Premier League start this season and is said to want to go out on loan in January in a bid to get some game time.
He said: “Listen, I’m not thinking that far ahead. I’ve got a lot of games left to go to try and fight for the club. It’s important we all stay in the same mindset, the same thought process and we see.
“There’s a long way to go, still two months to go and it’s about knuckling down, working as hard as I can and having no regrets.”
Winks’ relationship with Nuno is clearly strained.
Asked if he has spoken with his manager about his future, he said: “It’s got to be the right time for me. The manager has a lot of games to think about. They’re coming thick and fast and I don’t want to stand in the way of preparation, and stand in the way of the other players in the team.
“But when the time is right I’ll have a conversation but right now it’s important that the team and manager focus on the next game and don’t get any distractions from me.”
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