Leeds United head coach Jesse Marsch said he felt “like someone has ripped my heart out” after watching his side implode in Saturday’s 4-3 loss at Tottenham.
The visitors took the lead three times in north London and were ahead with nine minutes of normal time remaining, only for Rodrigo Bentancur to score a late double.
Leeds have shipped 26 goals in 14 Premier League games this season at a rate of 1.86 per 90 minutes – only Nottingham Forest (2) and Bournemouth (2.13) have fared worse.
Marsch, who had seen the pressure on him ease following back-to-back league wins prior to the Spurs loss, admits it has been a familiar theme for his side this campaign.
“I’m gutted, I feel like someone has ripped my heart out,” he told BBC Sport. “I thought we had control of the match but then we let it slip.
“There’s obviously positives in there because in our good moments we look like we have quality, but in our bad, we still look vulnerable and naive.
“We get leads and then we give it away immediately because we don’t stick to our principles. If we can then we can be a good team.
“Mentally, the guys have invested so much, there’s been ups and downs. We need to gather ourselves, have a break and then come back and keep pushing.
“A little bit of everything needs strengthening, we need to learn to manage the game as a group at all moments.”
Crysencio Summerville and Rodrigo both scored for a fourth straight game for Leeds, with the latter netting twice following Harry Kane and Ben Davies equalisers.
But Argentina midfielder Bentancur scored in the 81st and 83rd minutes – his first brace in Europe’s top five leagues on his 164th such outing – as Spurs returned to winning ways.
Tottenham have trailed in 14 of their 22 games in all competitions this term, including the past eight in a row, but Antonio Conte was delighted with his side’s fighting spirit.
“I think this game made many people very happy,” he said at his post-match news conference. “If you’re in the stadium you’ve seen a 4-3 score, with attractive football.
“In a lot of games we were losing and then we came back. I think we showed great character, desire and great will not to give up, to believe in the win.
“I try every day to transfer this concept. We need to fight and never give up. Never give up is our mantra. This is the positive side.
“The negative side is that we conceded three goals, which is never good. A team that wants to be competitive, to concede three goals is never positive.”
We don’t give up.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial)
Saturday’s thrilling victory was Tottenham’s 13th game since the beginning of October and their last until Boxing Day, with domestic top-flight football now pausing for the World Cup.
“If you want to reach a good result, you want to show stability,” Conte added. “The last period was really tough for everybody, all the clubs, to play 13 games in 43 days is tough.
“It was impossible to work on the pitch on the tactical aspect. For sure, when you don’t work on that you are going to lose something defensively.”
Spurs have now scored 31 goals in 15 games in the Premier League this term – they have only bettered that tally at this stage of a season on one occasion, with 35 in 2009-10.
England international Kane has been responsible for 12 of those, making this his joint-best start to a campaign at this stage since the 2017-18 season.
“Harry has played a really important role in this period,” Conte said. “If we finished this period in the top four and qualified for the top four, I think we have to praise Harry a lot.
“I think Harry honestly deserves great praise because he is always an important player, but in this period there was a lot of weight on his shoulders and he played in a great way.
“He’s arriving at the World Cup with lots of enthusiasm, in a great physical condition and mentally stronger. He’s ready. I can see in his eyes he’s ready to be the protagonist.”