Tottenham assistant Cristian Stellini explains decision to drop Heung-min Son

Heung-min Son celebrates after scoring for Tottenham against West Ham in February 2023.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tottenham's assistant coach Cristian Stellini has explained his decision to drop Heung-min Son and praised the South Korean after he came off the bench to score in the 2-0 win over West Ham on Sunday.

Son has been struggling for form of late and was left out of the XI by Stellini, who is taking charge while manager Antonio Conte recovers from a recent operation.

Richarlison was preferred to Son in the starting line-up, but the South Korean came on to replace he Brazilian after 68 minutes and was on the scoresheet soon afterwards to put Spurs 2-0 up at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

"Me, Antonio [Conte], and Ryan Mason, we made this decision because we have a big squad," Stellini said.

"Every time when you pick the team, you have to leave someone on the bench, and normally, it is not important the player you have to maybe leave on the bench.

"It is about the team that has to play. It is also important that some important players stay on the bench, and their efforts [are saved for] when they come in. This is very important."

And the Italian revealed he was thrilled with his player's reaction when he came on for the final quarter of the game.

"We know that Sonny's response would be perfect because Sonny is a perfect guy," he said. "But after the World Cup, sometimes it happen that the player are not fit 100 per cent. In that moment you have to take a decision and it is difficult with a player like Sonny to drop them, but you have to do it because we have a lot of matches.

"The risk is you lose a player for a long time and we don't want to do it. We want to use Sonny in the right way. Now we had Richarlison back 100 per cent fit and we pick the team to play this type of game."

"The plan was clear. We had to fight in the first half and when they stretch the team and we have more space, we can use players like Sonny and players to attack the space."

Emerson Royal scored Spurs' first goal after 56 minutes.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Weekend editor

Ben Hayward is Weekend Editor for FourFourTwo. A European football writer with over 15 years’ experience, he has covered games all over the world - including three World Cups, several Champions League finals, Euros, Copa América - and has spent much of that time in Spain. He currently divides his time between Barcelona and London.