EPL

Stellini: Picking right moment to bring on 'amazing' Son killed the game off

By Sports Desk February 19, 2023

Picking the right time to bring Son Heung-min off the bench allowed Tottenham to kill the game off against West Ham, according to stand-in boss Cristian Stellini.

Son was benched for Sunday's 2-0 victory, as Spurs battled through not having Antonio Conte on the touchline to see off their London rivals and move into the top four of the Premier League.

Richarlison was preferred to Son in the starting XI, but after Emerson Royal had given Spurs the lead, the South Korea international came off the bench to slot home a second and boost his side's top-four hopes.

Son has now scored four goals as a substitute in the Premier League this season, twice as many as any other player, despite only making two appearances off the bench.

Deputising for Conte, who is back in Italy recovering from emergency gallbladder surgery earlier this month, Stellini feels choosing the right time to introduce Son helped Spurs to put the game to bed as he punished the space the Hammers left while pursuing an equaliser.

"Son stayed on the bench, the moment was important," Stellini told Sky Sports. "And it was the moment for Son.

"With the space, Son is an amazing player and we try to use him in this way. It was a good idea.

"Son has a goal so we are happy for him. He has to stay calm and produce his best performance.

"At the moment he is not 100 per cent so we have to manage him."

While he was frustrated with starting on the bench, Son understood the decision and was delighted to come on and help his team, saying: "Nobody wants to sit on the bench but it's a decision you to have accept.

"The pass was really good and my first touch helped to make the goal.

"I tried my best to help the team. I got the chance and I was happy to score."

After Stellini took charge of the 1-0 victory over Manchester City, Conte returned from his surgery for the defeats at Leicester City and Milan. However, the former Chelsea boss returned to Italy to recover further having "underestimated the procedure."

Son praised the work Stellini and his fellow coaches had undertaken in Conte's absence, stating: "If he's [Conte] not here, it's really sad. Sometimes we forget football is not the most important thing. We hope that the gaffer is coming as soon as possible.

"The coaching staff did an amazing job and gave us really good confidence and tactics."

Conte still has an influence on proceedings even in his absence, with Stellini explaining: "Conte sent some texts to the bench and they transferred it to me.

"He is good, he is fine and can be involved in the game so that is fine. Sometimes I want to do things and I ask him and he allows me.

"[It is a] big responsibility but with the responsibility, you have to grow a bit.

"I'm happy because I have Ryan Mason with me to help me a lot and all the staff work hard and we push ourselves in another level to try and cover the gap."

Related items

  • Tottenham confirm Ndombele departure Tottenham confirm Ndombele departure

    Tottenham have announced Tanguy Ndombele's departure from the club after his contract was terminated by mutual consent.

    Ndombele became Spurs' then-record signing when he arrived from Lyon in July 2019, scoring 10 goals in 91 games for the club.

    However, the French midfielder made his last Tottenham appearance against Morecambe in January 2022, before spending the past two-and-a-half seasons out on loan.

    He returned to Lyon for the remainder of the 2021-22 campaign, before winning successive league titles during season-long loans with Napoli and Galatasaray.

    Although Ndombele was contracted until June 2025, both he and Tottenham have opted to part ways a year early, with the club wishing him well for the future on their website.

  • 'Stranger things have happened' says Sctotland's Morgan on potential Germany upset 'Stranger things have happened' says Sctotland's Morgan on potential Germany upset

    Lewis Morgan believes Scotland can surprise Germany ahead of their Euro 2024 opener against the hosts this Friday. 

    Steve Clarke's side travel to Munich in search of their first victory over their opponents since 1999, having failed to beat Die Mannschaft in their previous four encounters.

    The New York Red Bulls winger was a late arrival in Scotland's provisional squad after it was announced Ben Doak had to withdraw through injury, and made it into the travelling group of 26. 

    Morgan ended his six-year absence from the international stage with a substitute appearance in a 2-2 draw against Finland at Hampden Park last week to earn his third cap for his country, 2,193 days since his last. 

    The 27-year-old has scored nine goals in 16 MLS appearances so far this season in the Eastern Conference, and believes his side have every chance of starting their Group A campaign with a victory. 

    "Absolutely, stranger things have happened in football," Morgan said about the possibility of Scotland upsetting the host nation.

    "We've got a really, really talented squad here, a good group of players playing at the highest level in world football.

    "There's no reason why we can't go there and get something, but we can only do that if we give the best version of ourselves and stick to the game plan."

    Following Friday's fixture against Germany, the Scots will face Switzerland before concluding their group campaign in Stuttgart against Hungary, with the hopes of reaching the knockout stages of an international competition for the first time in their history. 

  • Lewandowski not thinking of Poland retirement ahead of Euro 2024 Lewandowski not thinking of Poland retirement ahead of Euro 2024

    Robert Lewandowski has no immediate plans to call time on his Poland career post-Euro 2024 as he battles to regain fitness in time for the tournament.

    The Barcelona striker sustained a thigh injury in Monday's 2-1 friendly win over Turkiye and has been ruled out of Poland's opening match.

    While Lewandowski will play no part against the Netherlands on Sunday, he will hope to be back to face both Austria and France in a tough looking Group D.

    The former Bayern Munich ace turns 36 in August, but he is not yet thinking about retiring from duty with his national side.

    "I cannot say that is yes or not," he told CNN. "It depends on many different things. 

    "Physically, I am feeling very well. I don't see many differences, especially in this year, than before.

    "But if I feel something inside, in my heart, saying maybe it's time to say goodbye, then I know that the time is coming.

    "Until now, I didn't feel this kind of feeling, so it's still not this kind of way that I am thinking about this."

    Poland are competing at their fourth successive European Championship after beating Wales on penalties in their play-off final in March.

    Only once have they advanced through the group stage in those most recent three appearances, but Lewandowski is hopeful his side can make an impact in Germany.

    "I think we can play good football," he said. "We know that we are not the favourites in the group stage.

    "But I remember the last World Cup, we played the first half against France really well. I think we surprised them. I hope that we will also surprise them now at the Euros.

    "[France] are so strong, even if they put a second or third XI out, still they can fight to win Europe. But you have to believe.

    "If we are playing as a team, that are going in one direction, really we can achieve something. I don't know what that means in the end, but in football, everything is possible."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.