Ryan Mason hopes Tottenham’s performances on the pitch can help unite the club after fans protested against chairman Daniel Levy and the club’s owners ahead of the 2-1 Premier League win over Southampton.
Around 100 unhappy supporters gathered at the stadium to voice their displeasure at Spurs’ involvement in the failed European Super League breakaway plan and it added to a tumultuous 72 hours at the club.
Mason was thrust in charge against Saints following Jose Mourinho’s sacking on Monday, which was sandwiched in between plans to join the ESL and then the decision to pull out after heavy criticism for the project.
Once attention finally returned to football, Spurs overcame a slow start to come from behind and claim an important win that keeps hopes of Champions League qualification alive.
Danny Ings put Saints ahead in the first half, but Gareth Bale’s fine finish and a late Son Heung-min penalty ensured Spurs began life after Mourinho with a win.
Asked what he thought of the fans’ protests, Mason, who is a boyhood Spurs supporter, said: “First of all I can’t have an opinion because I wasn’t aware of that, we didn’t see it from the coach so I can’t comment on that.
“But the most important thing is to create a good energy around the place. Obviously when you are winning matches that does help, but more importantly the performance in the second half is where we want it to be.
“Thankfully we have got the win and we can look forward to tomorrow now.”
Spurs were one of six English clubs to quickly reverse their decision to join the controversial ESL following a severe backlash.
In Mason’s defence, he has been otherwise occupied over the last couple of days as he made the jump from academy coach to interim head coach and used that as an excuse to sidestep the issue.
“I’ll be honest, I said this all along, I really can’t have an opinion on it, because last 48 hours, I’m sure you can respect the fact that my mind, my energy has been fully involved in this game, in preparing for this game,” he said.
“And likewise now the game’s done I’ll enjoy it for a few moments but my energy is on training tomorrow and preparing the team for the weekend.
“I’ll be honest, the outside noise I’ve completely shut out, and my full focus is on preparing the group of players to win football matches.”
It was a fairy-tale evening for Mason, who joined Spurs as an eight-year-old and was cruelly forced to retire as a player aged just 26, winning his first game in charge.
“First of all the feeling is a massive relief,” he said. “It’s been a whirlwind the last two or three days but thankfully we got the win and most importantly I felt second half we were outstanding.
“The performance, the commitment, the energy was brilliant because I thought in the first half we found it very difficult.
“It was quite tough to get out and they were very good. They created some chances. Hugo (Lloris) pulled off two world-class saves for us but I thought as the game wore on we gained control of it and I thought there was only one team that was going to win the match.”
While Spurs somehow still have one eye on the top four, Southampton are looking over their shoulders after a 12th Premier League defeat in 15 games.
They are six points above the drop zone and boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is tired of his side repeating the same mistakes.
“The way we lost the game we cannot be more hurting to be honest. In the first half we must be three up and in the second half, especially the last 30 minutes, we did not have the game we wanted,” he said.
“The way we gave them the goals is always the same issue. We don’t clear the ball from the corner, we make a stupid foul in the last minute and we concede a goal we never should.
“Then all of the work you put in is gone and it’s hard to take.”
Southampton’s evening went downhill after Ings went off injured early in the second half and Hasenhuttl was not up to speed about the severity of the injury.
“Hopefully he is not too injured but I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know his situation.”
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