Jose Mourinho painted a bleak picture of Tottenham’s prospects after Saturday’s defeat at Chelsea, suggesting that the rest of the season may amount to little more than “very good experience for the future”.
For the Spurs manager, it is increasingly hard to envisage success in the FA Cup and Champions League or a top-four finish, having lost Harry Kane, Heung-min Son and Moussa Sissoko to injury and Christian Eriksen to Inter Milan.
If the situation has a silver lining for Mourinho, no one can blame him if Spurs fail to secure a fifth consecutive season of Champions League football, and the rest of the campaign is therefore something of a free hit and an opportunity for him to alter some of the negative perceptions that have dogged the past few years of his career.
Chief among them is Mourinho’s supposed mistrust of youth and the 57-year-old should use from now until May to show he is prepared to buck the trend.
Japhet Tanganga has already been a huge success story but, even without a recognised centre-forward, Mourinho is continuing to ignore 18-year-old Republic of Ireland striker Troy Parrott, repeatedly insisting he is “not ready”. The word from Mourinho’s camp is that his comments are a challenge to Parrott, who is yet to respond on the training ground. And Mourinho is also said to believe it is very different playing a youngster at centre-forward than at full-back, where Tanganga has always been assisted by an experienced centre-half in Toby Alderweireld or Jan Vertonghen.
But surely Mourinho cannot ignore Parrott indefinitely, with Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn very obviously striking stand-ins.
The Irishman has only spent two years in Spurs’ academy and has a lot to learn, but he is highly rated from the boardroom down, and there would seem little to lose in Mourinho including him on the bench, particularly given that Mick McCarthy has shown a willingness to trust him at international level already.
Ryan Sessegnon, 19, is another young player who has struggled for minutes under Mourinho but he was unfortunate not to make the 18 at Stamford Bridge, having to withdraw after feeling tightness in his hamstring in the dressing room.
When he is fit again, Sessegnon would also be worth a gamble in a forward role.
Having scored 15 goals in the Championship as a 16-year-old, he could be a precious source of goals.