Football News

Spurs boss brands McTominay Man Utd’s “best player” as he mocks youth player criticism

By Harry Edwards

Published: 18:40, 11 December 2019

Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho rebutted criticism of his use of younger players, pointing out the success of Scott McTominay at Manchester United.

Since entering into the spotlight in 2004 after winning the Champions League with Porto, Mourinho has managed Chelsea twice, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Manchester United and now Spurs.

In that time, Mourinho has grown a reputation of failing to bring through enough young players, most notably being unable to build a pathway for members of Chelsea’s academy system.

Jose Mourinho’s use of young players: Five things to know…

  • Mourinho has been criticised throughout his career for not using enough young players.
  • The Portuguese manager failed to make the most of Chelsea’s successful academy in his second spell.
  • Mourinho is now at Tottenham Hotspur, a club known for bringing through younger players.
  • And he has hit back at the criticism, pointing out the success of McTominay at Man Utd.
  • Mourinho gave McTominay his United debut in May 2017.

While Mourinho was in his second spell at Stamford Bridge between 2013 and 2015, Chelsea’s academy won the FA Youth Cup twice in 2014 and 2015 — part of a five-year domination of the competition — as well as the Uefa Youth League.

Those squads included the likes of Lewis Baker, Izzy Brown and Dominic Solanke, who Mourinho had taken on the first-team pre-season tour in July 2014. While on that tour, Mourinho insisted he would be to blame if the trio don’t play for England and only Solanke has made an appearance for the senior side, playing 15 minutes in a goalless draw with Brazil after he had moved to Liverpool. Both Brown and Baker remain at Chelsea but have become a big part of the club’s loan system.

Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Andreas Christensen were also part of those cup-winning squads and have since gone on to become first-team members for Chelsea, though their promotions came after Mourinho left.

Worries over Mourinho’s lack of faith in younger players reemerged after he replaced Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs, a club that have made bringing through academy players one of their key priorities.

Jose Mourinho on the criticism of his use of youth players

However, Mourinho believes the criticism he receives is unfair, pointing out the careers of McTominay and Raphael Varane as success stories.

“Yes, it’s very important,” he told reporters when asked about the criticism.

“Scott McTominay is only the best player at Manchester United. Raphael Varane is one of the best players in the world. It’s fair criticism, yeah.”

Mourinho gave McTominay his United debut in May 2017 and named him Manager’s Player of the Season at the end of the 2017/18 campaign. But the Scot played 31 times in 18 months under Mourinho, recently eclipsing that number with Ole Gunnar Solksjaer in charge.

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Mourinho keen to stick to Spurs’ DNA

With Spurs dealing with various injury problems and having nothing to play for in their Champions League game with Bayern Munich on Wednesday night, Mourinho is expected to ring the changes.

Spurs are guaranteed second spot in Group B and cannot catch winners Bayern giving the north London club a good opportunity to hand valuable experience to some of their younger stars.

This is something Mourinho has done already at Spurs, handing Troy Parrott his Premier League debut as a late substitute in their 5-0 win over Burnley at the weekend. And Mourinho intends to keep the tradition going.

“I think, if I remember Tottenham since I came back to England for my second spell, I think this is basically the profile, you have a fantastic group of players and then you have always some younger players coming,” he added.

“It’s part of the DNA of the club, part of the culture and also part of the passion and relations between the fans and the team. The Spurs supporters, they like to see the young boys coming from the academy, a different profile to some other big clubs in English football and also world football. It’s part of us.”