Caretaker head coach Ryan Mason does not think managerless Tottenham are drifting after a damaging 2-1 defeat against Unai Emery’s Aston Villa.
Jacob Ramsey and Douglas Luiz both got on the scoresheet as Aston Villa moved level on points in the Premier League with their sixth-placed opponents.
Harry Kane’s late penalty made the scoreline look better for Spurs, who were second-best throughout the 90 minutes at Villa Park.
Mason, Spurs’ third manager of the season, is now battling to keep them in the European spots.
They are without a head coach and sporting director after the departures of Antonio Conte, Cristian Stellini and Fabio Paratici but Mason insisted the club is still fighting.
He said: “The outside world is the outside world. When you are consistent and strong inside that transfers outside. It is a difficult moment but everyone is pulling together.
“The environment you try to set within is the most important thing.
“To go a goal down so early again, it’s happened too many times this season. We need to be better. It’s a very disappointing day.
“I felt we were more of a threat in the second half and their keeper has pulled off an outstanding save at 1-0 which could have changed the flow of the game.
“We understand we have two important games and it’s still in our hands, what we want to achieve, we need to learn and try to be better.
“We’ve come here against a good side and you have to understand you have to suffer as a team and then the game changes, like we saw in the second half, but you can’t get to that point being a goal down.”
Ramsey opened the scoring after just eight minutes, finding the corner from Leon Bailey’s cross, as Villa dominated.
Tottenham were dreadful and needed Fraser Forster to keep it at 1-0 when he saved from Bailey after Pedro Porro’s mistake.
Emi Buendia hit the bar before the break and was denied by Forster following the restart, with John McGinn shooting wide.
But Spurs were almost gifted a way back when Oliver Skipp robbed Luiz to tee up Kane only for to see his shot beaten away by Emi Martinez.
Dejan Kulusevski curled wide but Villa found some daylight with 18 minutes left when Luiz curled in a 25-yard free-kick which Forster could only help into the top corner.
It seemed like the hosts would cruise to victory but they were forced to sweat in stoppage time when Kane went down under Martinez’s challenge and – after a long VAR delay – referee Peter Bankes awarded the penalty which the England captain scored.
Villa remain in the hunt for a Europa League spot, although boss Unai Emery admitted he did not think it was achievable when he replaced Steven Gerrard in October.
He said: “No, it was a process but I told the players if we can have chances to go there we are going to try to get it. If we didn’t get it, it’s not a fail. It’s a process.
“We played with a high level in the first half and kept our identity. We deserved more in the first half, maybe. Keeping focus in 90 minutes is not easy and we were playing a very good team.
“In the second half they played better but at the end we deserved to win. We want to connect with our supporters, get the energy and give them our energy and this is the sixth win in a row here.
“I was very, very happy in the first half. We need to be consistent but today we played very well and the players are showing their commitment.”