Rafael van der Vaart hopes Harry Kane remains at Tottenham, allowing the England international to continue working with a "great coach" in Jose Mourinho.

The striker returned from a hamstring injury suffered at the start of 2020 to help Spurs finish in sixth place in the Premier League, securing the north London club a spot in next season's Europa League as a result.

Kane, 27, scored five goals in his final three outings to finish the campaign with 24 in all competitions, though he had sparked speculation over his future earlier in the year when admitting he would not stay at his boyhood club "for the sake of it".

However, Van der Vaart - who spent two years with Spurs - believes Kane does not have to leave in his pursuit to win trophies.

"I really hope that he's going to stay," Van der Vaart - an ambassador for the UEFA Europa League Trophy Tour - told Stats Perform News.

"I hope he's going to stay. Spurs have a great coach.

"It's a club that want to be a championship winner, and the Champions League. They can also pay the money.

"For me, the best thing is for Harry to stay."

While Van der Vaart wants Kane to continue in familiar surroundings, he is delighted to see a famous former Netherlands team-mate return to his roots.

Former Bayern Munich star Arjen Robben announced in July his decision to come out of retirement and sign a deal with Groningen – the club where the winger started his illustrious career.

"It's great. I really love it, because I think it's important for the Dutch league," Van der Vaart said of Robben's return.

"Robben is a great guy. He is so professional. He is still so fit. I always thought, 'Why did he stop?', because football is the best thing you can do.

"He stopped at Bayern Munich, but now it's so important that he's starting again and to go back home, to his former club.

"It's going to be different. He's always played for teams when, 80 per cent of the time, they were better than the opponent, but now you go to Groningen and maybe it's 50-50. That is a different way of playing."

Van der Vaart was speaking as part of this year's Europa League Trophy Tour, which has been collecting football boots from fans for Syrian refugees based in Jordan.

Jose Mourinho is looking to improve Tottenham's squad ahead of next season after finishing 2019-20 on a high by qualifying for the Europa League.

A 1-1 draw with London rivals Crystal Palace proved enough for Spurs to finish above Wolves, beaten 2-0 by Chelsea elsewhere on the final day, in sixth place.

And after winning four and drawing two of their final six games, Mourinho feels his side are capable of finishing in the top four next term with a bit more luck on the injury front and some new faces.

"When all the players are available we showed in this last period where we belong," he said at his post-match news conference. 

"After lockdown we finished third or fourth in the table. That is where we belong. I want to have my team, my players, not a medical room full of players, a pitch full of players. 

"We want to keep our very good players and after that improve the squad. Are we going to buy 10 players. No? Are we going to pay £100million for a player? No.

"But let's see. The market is very strange. I don't know if we will start working pre-season with any new players or something that is going to go through the whole period.

"We are going to keep the structure of the team because we have absolutely no interest in selling our best players.

"I enjoy working with [chief scout] Steve Hitchen and we are very connected with [Daniel] Levy and the board.

"We're going to do what is possible and hopefully next season we can give the fans a very good season."

Harry Kane's fifth goal in three matches gave Tottenham the lead inside 13 minutes at Selhurst Park, only for Palace to hit back through Jeffrey Schlupp early in the second half.

Mourinho concedes that his side were not at their best in Sunday's clash, which he puts down to the gruelling nature of an elongated campaign that has spanned 12 months.

"The game was hard," he said. "We didn't play well at all. I understand though that to play an entire season in one game is difficult. 

"There was a lot of pressure. The players deserve it. I also have to say that Palace did very well. They played with incredible professionalism. This is England.

"I think it is down to pressure and the typical fatigue of a season of 12 months. 

"People can say 'oh for two or three months you didn't play' but those months were probably even harder, to be at home, closed in and training on Zoom. 

"It's a 12-month season so really, really difficult. It's an accumulation of things.

"I also have to say that Palace did very well. They played with incredible professionalism. This is England. This is England, I repeat."

After four successive years in the Champions League a season of Europa League football now awaits for Spurs, but Mourinho is focusing on the positives.

"I am quite happy that next season we play in Europa League," he said. "It's just a question of motivating ourselves for that competition and motivating the fans to support us and try to do something beautiful.

"Of course everybody that one day plays in the Champions League doesn't want to go back and play Europa League but it was the only thing possible after such a difficult season for the club, for the players and in my case also for myself."

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho believes achieving home dominance like champions Liverpool is becoming more difficult due to increasingly competitive Premier League standards.

Jurgen Klopp's title-winning Reds completed a third consecutive unbeaten league campaign at Anfield with their 5-3 win over Chelsea on Wednesday.

Mourinho knows plenty about building that sort of record, having once gone 150 games without a home league loss across a nine-year period spanning four clubs.

But while the Spurs boss thinks Tottenham Hotspur Stadium can still become a fortress, he views Liverpool's incredible three-season stretch as an anomaly.

"I think the Premier League is getting into a direction where these unbeaten records are something more and more difficult to achieve because of the level of the teams," Mourinho told Sky Sports.

"But to be strong at home and to arrive at the end of each season with an important number of points in your pocket from home matches is very important.

"I think our recent results at home without the fans are important, but we need them back.

"I can imagine that [2-1] victory against Arsenal with the stadium full of Tottenham fans. This is the kind of empathy that you can create step by step."

He added: "Without [supporters] you can create a kind of fortress, but based on the tactical side of the game.

"But, I think with fans, you can do it in a much stronger way because you add the emotional side of the game that only your fans in your stadium can give to you."

Tottenham wrap up their Premier League season with a short trip to Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Mourinho's men must hope Wolves drop points against Chelsea to be in with a chance of snatching sixth and a guaranteed Europa League spot.

Jose Mourinho insists he does not need to prove his worth but highlighted Tottenham's strong run of form as "the champion of the last five matches".

Former Chelsea and Manchester United manager Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino as Spurs head coach in November.

Tottenham have subsequently improved under the Portuguese, yet he has not been able to rescue a top-four spot and Europa League football is far from assured.

Mourinho has been the subject of some criticism at times, with his side enduring a seven-match winless run either side of the season's suspension and later suffering a costly 3-1 defeat at Sheffield United.

But the coach is looking towards next season with optimism and suggests recent results show his credentials.

Spurs have taken 13 points from their past five matches, the best haul in the league over this spell as they have beaten Everton, Arsenal, Newcastle United and Leicester City.

"If you think I need to show [my worth], okay, im going to try," Mourinho told reporters. "If this is about individuals and an individual approach, lets go for an easy one.

"I'm fourth in the league [since arriving]. I arrived 14th, eight points from Arsenal, 12 from a Champions League position. But if the league starts only for me, if you want to go in that direction, I'm fourth in the league.

"If you think that's bad, that's your opinion. If you want to laugh with me, I'm the champion of the last five matches!

"I try to do my best all the time, I'm not worried about proving [anything]. My most important match is the next one, the most important season is the next one.

"It's not what you think, anything that can come from outside, that can motivate me more or less. It's just my nature; I don't need that. I look forward to next season."

Mourinho added injuries were to blame for Tottenham's earlier issues, with talismanic striker Harry Kane among those out for an extended period.

The two-time Champions League winner claims any rival manager would similarly struggle in such a situation.

"I think in this last period it was very clear that Tottenham with all the best players available can be a very good team," he said.

"You look to the season: they lost [Hugo] Lloris for a long time, then Kane. Now with everybody together, you a see a difference in performances and results.

"In case we have a similar situation, we are trying to protect the squad against unpredictable things. Let's try to have a better squad to be ready to face a dramatic situation.

"I was telling Brendan [Rodgers, Leicester manager] to lose Ricardo [Pereira], [Caglar] Soyuncu, [Ben] Chilwell, [Christian] Fuchs... Can he do a miracle?

"It's very difficult. It's difficult for everybody. It was very difficult for Tottenham.

"Do we think next season we are going to be less unlucky? Yes, we do think that. But at the same time, we have to protect ourselves and build a better squad, with more balance."

Jose Mourinho is not expecting swift transfer business but believes Tottenham are moving in the right direction and will end the window with a "better, balanced squad".

Spurs have endured a tumultuous campaign with long-term manager Mauricio Pochettino sacked in November.

Former Chelsea boss Mourinho was appointed as head coach in Pochettino's place and has inspired an upturn in form, but Tottenham are still facing a battle to qualify for the Europa League.

Mourinho's side are seventh heading into the final day of the Premier League season, a position that would only mean European competition if rivals Arsenal failed to win the FA Cup.

But the Spurs coach is optimistic for the future, with the transfer window opening after this weekend's matches and the club ready to act.

"A new player on Monday would be amazing news, but I think it's just the opening of the window," Mourinho told reporters ahead of Sunday's clash with Crystal Palace, where Dele Alli will be fit to feature.

"I think we are going in the right direction, very calm, organised, thinking well, measured. I think we are going in the right direction.

"We know what we can and cannot do, we know which directions we can and cannot go. We must not be reactive. We are very balanced, together, and have no doubts about what we need and about what is possible.

"Step by step, we will end with a better, balanced squad. Of course, keeping the great players that we have is a very important thing."

Tottenham ensured one key man would remain at the club this week as Eric Dier signed a new contract.

At the end of a season in which Christian Eriksen left in a cut-price transfer and uncertainty has loomed over the futures of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen at various times, Mourinho suggested sorting Dier's deal swiftly was vital.

"It's really important," he said. "We look to the situation of last season where Spurs started the season with a few players going into the last years of their contract, with question marks on their future - like Christian.

"It's very important for us that Eric is not in this situation, that he's committed to the club, he's happy with the contract and his prospective future as a player here. We are very happy."

Vertonghen is still to agree a contract of his own, signing an extension only until the end of the season, but Mourinho would not be drawn on the issue.

"I think after eight years at the club, it's for Jan to be the man to speak about his future, not me," he said.

Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho claims Harry Kane "wouldn't be so special playing for another team" amid question marks over the Spurs star's future following his latest exploits.

Kane scored his second successive brace as Tottenham dealt a blow to Leicester City's Champions League hopes with a 3-0 Premier League victory on Sunday.

After scoring twice in the 3-1 midweek triumph at Newcastle United, Kane was at it again with two goals before half-time against Leicester in London following James Justin's sixth-minute own goal.

Kane has refused to rule out a Tottenham exit previously but Spurs boss Mourinho warned the England star may not be held in the same regard elsewhere.

"I think everyone thinks he's a fantastic player and Tottenham is so lucky to have him because he's the player, the person and the Tottenham boy," Mourinho told reporters.

"All this together makes him really a special player for us that probably wouldn't be so special playing for another team. He's really special for us, he's really special for Tottenham.

"Of course we want him to be happy and for him to be happy he wants victories, score goals, and I'm so happy after an incredibly difficult injury he's coming in the direction where he's going to end the season perfect. Hopefully the beginning of next season he will be even better."

Kane has scored 17 Premier League goals this season, six adrift of Golden Boot leader and Leicester star Jamie Vardy, with one match remaining.

In total, Kane netted 23 goals across all competitions for last season's Champions League runners-up.

"He's doing incredible effort since day one, since injury day," Mourinho said. "Even without the sad situation of coronavirus he was preparing himself to be back as soon as possible to play the last four, five, six matches of the season. He was doing an incredible effort, working so much for that.

"Then the lockdown was hard because with so many rules in relation to visits, in relation to medical departments, the training ground closed, the medical people forbidden to have direct contact with players was really a period that I think break a little bit his evolution.

"When training ground opened I think everything changed for him. Incredible work in the club, always do some work privately at home. He's a guy that lives for family, for football and for a little bit of goals. Amazing professional."

Jose Mourinho praised Tottenham's progress after recovering from a "complicated" start to his tenure and believes his side are ready to push on next season.

A couple of first-half strikes from Harry Kane after James Justin's own goal saw off Leicester City 3-0 on Sunday and made it three Premier League wins in a row for Spurs as they climbed into sixth place.

Mourinho inherited a side that were 14th and had won just three of their first 12 matches, but the north London club are now on course to qualify for the Europa League.

And Mourinho has hailed the character of his players to come through a tough spell before lockdown that saw them exit the FA Cup and Champions League in quick succession.

"The team is being a team. Even against Sheffield United we were a team, a bad team, but we were a team," he said at his post-match news conference. 

"I think the team is understanding better the principles of playing and what we want to do. I think it's a good step.

"As I said, to come mid-season is always a complicated situation that I couldn't imagine was so complicated after so many injuries.

"But it's a situation that helps you to organise the next season.

"I think there are some important steps that we have done already and next pre-season when we start we are one step ahead."

Spurs will secure a European spot should they finish above Wolves and Sheffield United, who are two and four points behind respectively and each hold a game in hand.

Seventh place may also be enough if Chelsea beat Arsenal in the FA Cup final, meanwhile, and Mourinho is looking to end the campaign on a high.

"I think we are one of the teams with more points after the break, and I think that is a very, very good feeling," he told Sky Sports.

"Now we have to fight to finish sixth, but it doesn't just depend on us. We have to win and that is difficult to do at Crystal Palace, but we have to wait for something from others. 

"If not, seventh, because that is what we can achieve dependent on others. 

"We will still depend on the FA Cup, but getting or not getting to the Europa League, the feeling of what we are doing, what we are improving, is very important for next season."

Tottenham's win over a depleted Leicester side came despite them having just 29.5-per-cent possession - their lowest share in a league game since September 2012.

"I think it was an intelligent performance," Mourinho said. "I knew that for them to play with this back five is not a very comfortable situation.

"It was about being compact and controlling the game, so I'm very happy because it's a lot of pressure for us."

Jose Mourinho declared Harry Kane is "second to none" when it comes to strikers the Tottenham boss has worked with during his distinguished coaching career. 

Kane continued his strong finish to the truncated 2019-20 season with two goals against Leicester City on Sunday, having also scored a brace in the midweek win away at Newcastle United. 

The England international converted a one-on-one opportunity with his left foot to double the lead over the Foxes, then curled home a glorious effort from long range to wrap up a 3-0 triumph before half-time.

Mourinho admits Spurs are "lucky" to have someone of such quality to lead the line – and made clear it is up to the rest of the team to raise their standards and help their talismanic frontman. 

Asked on Sky Sports if the 26-year-old is one of the best strikers he has coached, Mourinho replied: "Of course he is.  

"It's difficult for me to compare strikers, I had almost in every club some of the best, but Harry is second to none. Just different – different qualities – but as a striker, as a goalscorer, as a team player, as a leader, I think he is fantastic.  

"It's difficult to make him better – the better the team is, the better he can be. I think it depends more on us, more on the team than himself.  

"He's an amazing professional who works very, very well. He cannot work better than what he does during the week, he's a fantastic striker and I'm so happy. Tottenham are so lucky to have him." 

Kane has now scored 16 goals in 14 games against Leicester, a club where he spent a loan spell during the early phase of his career. 

A hamstring injury seemed set to ruin the second half of his campaign but the delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic has given both him and Spurs – who are up to sixth in the table – an unexpected chance to finish strongly. 

"I said before this game that it [the break] gave me a chance to rest and recover," Kane told Sky Sports. 

"I did a lot of work outside of the club to feel good, and I'm feeling probably as good as I have done for the past four or five years now.  

"Obviously it's good to be finishing strongly. We know we've got one more game now – hopefully we can win and I can score a couple more." 

He added: "I keep performing, week in and week out. I work hard for the team and score goals, that's all I can do. I like to do my talking on the pitch and that's what we've done today." 

With the aim of qualifying for next season's Europa League, Tottenham complete their league fixtures with a trip to Selhurst Park to play Crystal Palace next Sunday. 

Tottenham put a serious dent in Leicester City's Champions League hopes as their late-season resurgence under Jose Mourinho continued, Harry Kane scoring twice in a 3-0 win on Sunday. 

Spurs climbed above Wolves into sixth place in the table as they coasted to a fourth successive home triumph in the Premier League, their best run since moving into the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

After a brace away at Newcastle United on Wednesday, Kane's clinical finishing epitomised a ruthless performance from Mourinho's side, who exposed opponents left shorthanded at the back due to injuries and suspension.

While the hosts are peaking towards the delayed conclusion of the 2019-20 campaign, Leicester are in danger of dropping out of the top four at the wrong time.

The Foxes remain fourth for now on goal difference but have played a game more than nearest rivals Manchester United – their opponents in the final round of fixtures.

Brendan Rodgers' depleted team fell behind in unfortunate circumstances; Son Heung-min's right-footed shot was heading wide of the target before taking a deflection off James Justin to wrong-foot Kasper Schmeichel. 

The visitors responded well to the early setback but only had themselves to blame for conceding again in the 37th minute, carelessly caught short of numbers as Spurs countered quickly after dealing with a corner.

Lucas Moura's throughball allowed Kane to steer a left-footed shot across the advancing Schmeichel and into the net. 

The England striker used his right to add another before the half-time interval, sublimely curling home as Leicester failed to close down the space once he cut inside to open up a shooting opportunity. 

An offside flag denied Kane a potential hat-trick but Spurs were able to coast through the second half with few concerns. In contrast, Rodgers and Leicester have plenty to ponder after this chastening defeat in the capital.

 

What does it mean? Foxes fading down the stretch

An eighth successive away game without a win leaves Leicester waiting to see where they sit by kick-off time against United, who can climb above them if they avoid defeat to West Ham at Old Trafford in midweek.

Rodgers has been hampered badly by key absences down the stretch, while a creaking defence minus full-back duo Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell has now conceded seven goals in their last two road trips. Home comforts will be most welcome next weekend, but it could well be win or bust at the King Power Stadium.

Kane finishing strongly 

A Premier League season seemingly set to be cut short by injury before the coronavirus pandemic is ending impressively for Spurs' talismanic frontman. The rustiness so present when the action resumed in mid-June is now well and truly gone – Kane is back to being a well-oiled attacking machine. 

Bennett made to suffer 

Ryan Bennett's third league start for Leicester was short but not so sweet. The defender, who joined on loan from top-flight rivals Wolves in January, endured a torrid first 45 minutes on the right side of a back three before being replaced at the break, sparing him further anguish.

What's next? 

While Spurs round out their league fixtures with a short trip to Crystal Palace, Leicester have that huge showdown with United next Sunday. 

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho believes he is placed under different levels of expectations to his contemporaries, claiming: "People look at me with different eyes."

Spurs were 14th in the Premier League when Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino last November and has steered the club back towards the European places with two matches remaining.

Only Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United have collected more points than Spurs since Mourinho's arrival and, while a Champions League return for next season is not possible, Europa League qualification is in the offing ahead of Sunday's game against top-four hopefuls Leicester City.

However, criticism on social media of Mourinho and his methods remains and the Portuguese himself was frustrated with a question in a news conference about his selection policy after a 3-1 win at Newcastle United on Wednesday.

"People look at me with different eyes," Mourinho told Sky Sports.

"I know people expect me to do things that you don't expect with many others. I don't read much, but with some of the questions I get, I have that feeling, yes.

"For example, the other day after a game, the first question was about a player that didn't start [Steven Bergwijn].

"When a player is not playing with other coaches, it's never a problem. They make rotations. They make decisions. They leave on the bench incredible players and everyone looks at them and feels that this is their job. That's the way a big team has to be.

"But when Tottenham, for the first time in the season has, for example, Lucas Moura, Steven Bergwijn, Erik Lamela and Son Heung-min [all available], people always ask me about the ones that are not playing. So, yes, in some aspects, I feel that a bit."

Mourinho believes he has had an encouraging first nine months at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, despite feeling the season was "broken" by his side's "incredible sequence of injuries".

"We, myself and the staff, analyse internally and we know we are doing a very positive job," he said.

"I can compare it a little bit with my experience at Porto. When I got to Porto in January [2002], that half of the season was really hard, but was so important for the preparation of the next one.

"So that's what I'm doing now, accumulating knowledge and experience in the club to prepare for what's next.

"I'm happy with the globality of the squad I have, and I hope we can give some little touches to improve and make us better, more competitive, more adapted to my way of thinking with a balance I always try to find in a squad. If we manage that, then we will see."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hit back at claims by Frank Lampard and Jose Mourinho that Manchester United have benefited from favourable VAR calls.

Ahead of the FA Cup semi-final meeting on Sunday, Chelsea head coach Lampard said that United have "got a few in their favour" when it comes to decisions during recent Premier League games, with Tottenham boss Mourinho also suggesting his old club had been "lucky".

United have been awarded 13 penalties in 2019-20, one short of a record for a Premier League season, the most recent of which was for a contentious foul on Bruno Fernandes in a 3-0 win at Aston Villa.

Thursday's 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace saw Victor Lindelof get away with a challenge on Wilfried Zaha in the penalty area, while Jordan Ayew had a goal disallowed for a marginal offside.

Solskjaer, though, says United have themselves been victims of questionable decisions, such as a late challenge by Oriol Romeu on Mason Greenwood that went unpunished in the 2-2 draw with Southampton.

The United manager pointed to "facts" about recent games, apparently in a reference to former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez's famous rant about United and Alex Ferguson back in 2009, as he moved to dismiss attempts to create a "narrative" about VAR favouring his team.

"How long have we got?" he said on Saturday. "I can sit here for hours now and try to talk about this. It looks like there's a narrative. It looks like people want to influence whoever's making the decisions.

"I hear people talking about luck, that we've been lucky more than unlucky. If you look at the factual decisions – I don't want to sound like a certain manager talking about facts – but if you're offside, you're offside. That's clear.

"Talking about lucky, the penalty we got against Tottenham in the last minute that was taken away from us, that might be two points for us.

"Talking about the red card that Romeu should have had against us when he got Mason Greenwood almost crippled, that should've been a red card. Maybe that would've helped us.

"Talking about Mark Noble when he should have been sent off against us when we lost at West Ham [in September].

"Talking about the actual decision that is made that is against Man United but is overturned and corrected. So, it's actually me that should be complaining that we get decisions against us on the pitch by the on-field referee.

"There's a narrative there but we have to focus on our games. We let other people talk about that. I don't want to go too much into it because I might be in trouble. I hope I'm not now!

"I'm pretty relaxed on these and refs are going to be making objective decisions and are not going to be influenced by any emotion in any way."

Jose Mourinho claims his former club Manchester United have been "lucky" on their march towards the top four - even though he sees much to admire.

As Mourinho has been toiling with an injury-hit Tottenham team, United have emerged from the chasing pack to mount a challenge for a place in next season's Champions League.

The signing of Mourinho's fellow Portuguese Bruno Fernandes in January has proven a masterstroke, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have improved to such an extent many fancy them to push for 2020-21 honours.

Mourinho can appreciate the swagger that has been restored to the Red Devils ranks, but he also claims United have benefited from good fortune along the way.

As recently as Thursday, Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish was incredulous when his team were denied a penalty after Wilfried Zaha went down under a challenge from United defender Victor Lindelof early in their Selhurst Park clash.

And Mourinho was upset last month when United were awarded a penalty from which they equalised against his Spurs team, earning a 1-1 draw.

Looking at the battle for top-four places, Mourinho said: "If Man United does it, they will do it by playing very well in the second part of the season. When you play well, you deserve. On top of that, everybody knows they were a bit lucky, more than one time. Luck that we didn't have."

Speaking in his Spurs news conference, Mourinho spoke further about his perception United had been able to strike it lucky with decisions in the age of video assistant referees.

"VAR shouldn't be about that. VAR should be simple, pure, clear decisions," Mourinho said. "The space for the mistake is the man on the pitch having to make very difficult decisions, 200mph, different angles of vision, that is the mistake that we learn how to respect in football.

"Sometimes it's difficult to accept, but you understand [a referee's mistake]. Everybody makes mistakes."

Mourinho was glad to hear news that supporters could be allowed back into stadiums from October, as announced by UK prime minister Boris Johnson earlier on Friday.

"Did he say anything about me going to Portugal for a week's holiday?" Mourinho joked.

On a serious note, Mourinho said he would listen to Serge Aurier before deciding if he should face Leicester City on Sunday, following the death of the Ivorian defender's brother.

"It will be him opening up his heart, letting us understand his conditions," Mourinho said.

Mourinho expressed delight at 19-year-old midfielder Oliver Skipp signing a new four-year contract, describing him as a potential leader in years to come.

"I think he can be a future captain here. Hugo [Lloris], Harry [Kane]…I see this kid one day captaining this club by his character and personality," Mourinho added. "I feel very happy that he's signed."

Jose Mourinho has told his Tottenham stars they can boss next season's Europa League, but they must be in it to win it.

The Portuguese finds himself in the unfamiliar position of facing a major challenge just to earn a place in a competition which is overshadowed by the Champions League.

But he insists his Spurs players belong at Champions League level and is confident they would be among the favourites to win the Europa League, providing their name is in the draw.

Mourinho may need his Tottenham side to beat Leicester City and Crystal Palace in their remaining two Premier League games to earn qualification.

The match against Leicester on Sunday comes with added spice, given the visitors to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium are battling to keep a grip on a top-four place.

Seventh position, which Spurs occupy, could yet prove to be enough for a Europa League spot.

Mourinho said: "In quite a funny way I am telling the players, two more victories to win the Europa League.

"I know it's not like that, the competition is long with good teams. Some teams go from Champions League to Europa League which makes it really difficult, but it's just a feeling to motivate the boys.

"Our level is Champions League. The players have played a Champions League final. That's the level of our club.

"I'm just trying to motivate the troops, because it's important to keep that motivation. It's not possible that Wolves, Sheffield United and Arsenal have more motivation than us. To play Europa League is good – you can play and develop players. I think we have to try."

He added: "Football is not about what you deserve, it's about what we get. We need to win these two matches."

Mourinho had hoped to guide Spurs into the Champions League, which he has won previously with Porto and Inter, after succeeding Mauricio Pochettino in November.

However, a spate of injuries, affecting the likes of Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris, and mediocre form made that too much to hope for. Dele Alli will miss the Leicester game due to injury, Mourinho confirmed.

The former Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United boss is reconciled to the reality Tottenham will not be competing at the top level in Europe next season.

"It's not possible now, mathematically it's impossible. We know that for us now it will be a fight until the end to get a Europa League position," Mourinho said.

"We are sure that without the problems we had during all of the season, we would be of course in a much different situation. But that was our season, since Hugo's big injury at Brighton, then everything that happened.

"I arrived mid-season, impossible to be better than what it is. We need points to finish in the position that gives us Europa League next season."

Tottenham have won three Premier League home games in a row and a fourth would be a huge boon, as well as a record at their new home.

"More important than that is the points that we need," Mourinho said. "Like when we play Arsenal, important to win the derby, the only thing that matters is the points that we need. I just think that we need these points."

Brendan Rodgers has hailed "world class" Jose Mourinho as a huge influence ahead of Leicester City's vital Premier League trip to Tottenham.

Leicester's 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Thursday guaranteed them a top-six finish and European football next season with two games remaining.

Spurs, back in seventh, will be unable to catch them even if they are victorious on Sunday, meaning a return to the Champions League is out of reach for Mourinho, who succeeded Mauricio Pochettino in north London last November.

Rodgers worked as a youth coach during Mourinho's first spell in charge of Chelsea a decade and a half ago and he remains in no doubt about the ex-Inter and Real Madrid boss' enduring qualities.

"You have to be yourself but there's absolutely no doubt, at that time, Jose was a huge influence for me," he told reporters, with Mourinho enjoying a run of three wins from four unbeaten games following distinctly mixed returns at Spurs until this point.

"He's a world-class manager who was absolutely brilliant for me as a young coach.

"Firstly, the professionalism, how he devoted his life to football. His focus on detail was incredible.

"He was a guy who always had time for me, always communicated well with me.

"Of course, our ideas are maybe slightly different in terms of the game, but in terms of preparation and detail … he was absolutely brilliant.

"He was so good in the media in that period when I was there. He was a breath of fresh air. I learned so much from him in terms of observing him, how he works – how an elite manager operates."

Leicester are locked in a devilishly tight battle for the final two Champions League qualification spots.

They are a point behind third-placed Chelsea, who travel to face champions Liverpool next before entertaining Tottenham's fellow Europa League aspirants Wolves on the final weekend.

Goal difference has the Foxes above Manchester United, who they welcome to the King Power Stadium for a mouth-watering clash on the last day.

Champions League football could prove influential when it comes to the future of England left-back Ben Chilwell, whose thigh injury means he will sit out the rest of the campaign alongside fellow defender Christian Fuchs (groin) and playmaker James Maddison (hip).

Chelsea and Manchester City have been credited with an interest in Chilwell, but Rodgers is relaxed about the situation.

Asked whether the 23-year-old had played his last game for Leicester, he replied: "I'm not sure.

"He's a Leicester City player. He's not a player that we want to lose. So I'm quite relaxed on it.

"I'm not worried at all. We've got a fantastic squad, a squad that we want to keep together. So I don't worry."

Jose Mourinho appeared to take aim at Pep Guardiola and Manchester City over their Financial Fair Play (FFP) dispute as he bristled at a question regarding his Tottenham team selection.

Mourinho oversaw Spurs' 3-1 win at Newcastle United on Wednesday, with Harry Kane on the scoresheet twice – passing 200 club career goals – as the London outfit boosted their hopes of European qualification.

But even after victory – Mourinho's first in the Premier League at St James' Park – the head coach's focus did not seem to stray far from the result of City's appeal this week.

Guardiola's side were initially banned from European competition for two years by UEFA but successfully appealed against that punishment at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Mourinho called the outcome "a disgraceful decision" and again made reference to FFP following the game on Tyneside, going slightly off piste as he discussed his line-up.

Asked about Steven Bergwijn's role as a substitute, Mourinho replied: "You do this question to me but not to [Frank] Lampard, to [Jurgen] Klopp, to Pep.

"Lampard plays [Christian] Pulisic, you don't ask him why he doesn't start [Callum] Hudson-Odoi. Pep leaves Bernardo on bench, you don't ask why he doesn't start Bernardo Silva.

"I'm the only guy who doesn't have the right to play certain players. If Bergwijn started, you'd be asking me why Lucas [Moura] didn't start.

"You don't ask [Wolves boss] Nuno [Espirito Santo] why he leaves [Adama] Traore on the bench. [Bergwijn] is a team player, he plays for Tottenham."

It was put to Mourinho that he would be pleased by Bergwijn's impact from the bench, prompting his reply: "It is credibility for the players and for the group.

"We need good players and more than 11. We need a good group of players. And if we can do that without breaking FFP, we'll do even better."

Mourinho was cheerier as he discussed the end of his St James' Park hoodoo, halting a run of seven games as a visiting manager in the league without victory.

"It's special for us as we needed these three points," he said. "For me, it's a good feeling.

"I'm very happy for the team and finally I can leave the stadium and look at the statue of [former mentor] Bobby Robson and smile at him."

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