Mauricio Pochettino accused journalists of “disrespect” after Tottenham began their Champions League campaign with a 2-1 defeat at Inter Milan.
Christian Eriksen put Spurs on course to win in Italy but a late collapse saw Mauro Icardi and Matias Vecino goals give the hosts all three points.
And the Argentine manager took issue with being asked about leaving Kieran Trippier and Toby Alderweireld at home.
“Against Watford and against Liverpool, they were on the pitch,” he said.
“Wow, what a question, such an easy question? [It’s] easy to talk about the players that aren’t here. I think we need to talk about football. Because, you know I think you force me to say something that is not good.
“You disrespect the players that showed better qualities than the opponent.”
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World Cup semi-finalists Trippier and Alderweireld were two of five changes that Pochettino made to his starting XI from Tottenham’s Premier League defeat by Liverpool on Saturday.
While they stayed in England, the other three players omitted – Danny Rose, Harry Winks and Lucas Moura – were all introduced as substitutes at the San Siro.
Pochettino’s changes did not prevent Spurs from slipping to a third consecutive loss for the first time since he took over in 2014.
‘Sometimes you behave like the other 13 or 14 players are rubbish’
Warming to his theme in the post-match media conference, Pochettino demanded: “Why disrespect the players that aren’t on the pitch?
“You can blame me and say, ‘Gaffer, you were so, so rubbish in your selection of the starting XI’. But please don’t disrespect the players who were playing, because it’s my decision. Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld – we have 25 players.
“And you believe that and sometimes you behave like you ask me with your question, that you can play only 11, and the other 13 or 14 players are rubbish.
“Sorry, but I am so disappointed because I am a person that respects you a lot and the players. When my decision is to play with an XI, you must respect my decision because I am the manager.
“I don’t understand. Sorry. It is so painful to hear when some people are not here, and you judge in that way, and you kill players who give their best.”
Chris Waddle, ex-Spurs and England winger on BBC Radio 5 live
Tottenham gave everything. They got themselves in the driving seat but they can’t deal with set-pieces. Mauro Icardi was quiet all evening, but one piece of magic changed everything.
Spurs are a big side so I do not know why they concede so many goals from set-pieces. It’s about taking responsibility. Tottenham have thrown it away by dropping deeper and deeper, and they invited Inter on.
They would have taken a draw before tonight, but to lose it the way they did, confidence will be even lower now.”