Jose Mourinho says Tottenham’s Carabao Cup semi-final with Brentford is the biggest game since he arrived at the club.
Spurs take on the Championship outfit on Tuesday hoping to move one step closer to ending their lengthy trophy drought, with a final against Manchester City or Manchester United next in line.
Mourinho, who has won the League Cup four times, was brought to the club to deliver trophies and being only two games away from doing it means his full focus is on the visit of the Bees.
“Yes, I think so. In the perspective of the club chasing silverware for many years, I would say so,” he said when asked if this was the most important game of his tenure so far.
“Of course we always have important matches, last season we had a match at Palace that would give us participation in this season’s Europa League or not.
“The match against Leeds was very important as we went a few games without a victory in the Premier League but I would say a semi-final is always a very important match. The only one more important is a final.”
Mourinho has won the competition three times with Chelsea and once with Manchester United.
It was his first trophy in English football back in 2005 and his third triumph with Chelsea came in 2015 when the Blues beat Tottenham, whose run without a trophy goes back to 2008.
“For me every competition is important,” Mourinho added. “I won the the Carling Cup in my first season after a few months in England in 2004-05, so for me every competition is different and it doesn’t matter the club where you are or the ambitions you have.
“Every competition is important. That is my way of looking at things, especially at a club without silverware for more than one decade.
“After more than one decade, every competition becomes more important and if we win two matches we win a trophy.
“Two difficult matches, of course, but if we win we get a trophy which I think would be a very good thing for the club and for the players.
“It was the first for me, February 2005. It is not about me, it is not about me four or five times, or me winning at three clubs, it’s not about me at all.
“It is about my club, it is about the players who want trophies, it is about fans who want trophies and this one is the one where we just need two victories.
“Of course, difficult opponents but we need two victories and need to look at this semi-final with this ambition, respecting a very, very good team who kicked out a few very good Premier League teams out of the competition.”
If Spurs make it to the final, which has been moved to April, they are set to face an even more congested fixture list in the second half of the season as they challenge on four fronts.
Their schedule has not been helped by last week’s postponement of their Premier League game with Fulham, who had a coronavirus outbreak, and Mourinho is refusing to allow his side to have to face four games in a week as they did at the start of the season.
“I would like to know when we play against Fulham, of course I would like to know that,” he said.
“I refuse to speak about the Carabao Cup final because maybe Brentford are playing in it and not us.
“But I would like to know when we will play against Fulham, refusing totally to be punished by congested, crazy fixtures like we were at the beginning of the season.
“At the beginning of the season you can cope a little bit with people who forgot Tottenham could be in that situation of playing a Europa League play-off. So, I’m waiting.”
Spurs will be without Matt Doherty for the game with Brentford as he serves a one-match ban for his red card against Leeds while Erik Lamela will play no part after being pictured breaking coronavirus rules with two team-mates over the Christmas period.
Giovani Lo Celso (hamstring) and Gareth Bale (calf) will also be out.