Andre Villas-Boas has risked reopening his personal feud with Romelu Lukaku by suggesting that the on-loan Everton striker could have avoided Hugo Lloris in the incident that saw the French goalkeeper knocked unconscious.
After being condemned by the Professional Footballers’ Association and brain injury charity Headway for failing to substitute Lloris in Sunday’s 0-0 draw, the Tottenham Hotspur manager launched a furious attack on the “incompetent people” who questioned his decision and defended his club’s medical staff.
Most surprising was Villas-Boas’s rebuke for the striker who was one of his first signings as Chelsea manager in August 2011. Lukaku was scathing after being frozen out at Stamford Bridge in his first season in England, saying he would “never forgive” Villas-Boas for the way he was treated and that he had “learned nothing” during his spell under him.
That all appeared to have been consigned to the past in the build-up to Sunday’s game, when the Spurs manager described Lukaku as having the “potential for greatness”, yet his latest words are likely to reignite the ill feeling between the two.
“I want to believe that Lukaku’s leg was not left late to clash into Hugo’s head. I find it remarkable as well that nobody has dedicated themselves to find out if the player could have avoided the keeper and I’m disappointed that Lukaku hasn’t contacted Hugo,” Villas-Boas said.
“Lukaku is a fantastic footballer and I don’t question his integrity or his human side. We had a warm hug on the pitch before the game so I have maximum respect for him and I think he has for me. But amid all this negative excitement I find it surprising that no time was lost to actually study the incident.”
Lloris took a full part in Tottenham’s training session ahead of tonight’s Europa League tie against FC Sheriff Tiraspol at White Hart Lane but could be rested as a precaution. Spurs insist he was passed fit to continue playing at Goodison Park after thorough checks by club doctor Shabaaz Mughal and physio Geoff Scott.
The pair were part of the team that helped save Fabrice Muamba’s life at White Hart Lane when he suffered a cardiac arrest two seasons ago, and the criticism of their role on Sunday caused a fiery response. “I stand absolutely by the decision I took and I stand by the decision that the medical department took following the checks that they made on the player,” Villas-Boas said.
“All the checks were according to the book. I have registered the fact that a couple of people have taken this opportunity to find the chance to get themselves publicised who have no experience whatever in these type of situations.
“And I find it extremely disappointing that two people – a great doctor and a great physio, who saved the life of Muamba – were heavily put into question by lots of incompetent people, with absolutely no experience on the pitch, no experience in the action, no experience in the moment. That is extremely serious and disappointing.”
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