Novak Djokovic wins French Open, will he win the Grand Slam?
He's a standout at that level but doesn't seem too close to it (Garcia, Doyle, Bellis all closer).
Guess we’ll have to be patient as he emotionally matures a littleWhat about Troy Parrott?
By Charlie Eccleshare and David Ornstein 3h ago 18
Why is Troy Parrott not playing? It has been a question asked repeatedly by Tottenham Hotspur fans over the past few weeks.
To quickly recap, Parrott is the prodigiously talented 18-year-old striker from Dublin who is viewed as the Next Big Thing by most Spurs supporters. He is widely admired internally at the club too, though naturally there is a desire there to manage rather than ramp up the hype.
But managing expectations has become increasingly difficult over the past few months for a player who scored goal after goal at youth level.
First, there was a lively senior debut against Colchester in September’s Carabao Cup defeat. Then, Parrott was given his first international cap and provided an assist in the Republic of Ireland’s 3-1 friendly win over New Zealand in November.
A few weeks later he made his Premier League bow in the 5-0 win over Burnley, coming on as an 85th minute substitute. After the final whistle, his head coach Jose Mourinho handed him the match ball — a gesture interpreted as a show of faith. There was even interest from Bayern Munich.
(Photo: Ian Kington/AFP via Getty Images)
Since that early December day, however, Parrott has not played a single minute for the first team. This, in spite of the fact that the club’s only senior strikers, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, are both out with long-term injuries. “We have zero strikers on the pitch, zero on the bench or zero in the stands,” Mourinho said after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea.
“What about Troy?” came the collective response when the quotes were relayed via social media.
There is more to it — more on that later — but broadly the answer lies in the fact that Mourinho simply does not think Parrott is ready, something he has said repeatedly in press conferences over the past couple of months. Parrott only turned 18 on February 4 and as recently as the summer of 2017 was still playing for Belvedere FC, his local club in Dublin. Thrusting him into a Premier League side’s first team at such a young age and with so little experience is, in Mourinho’s eyes, not a gamble worth taking.
There are a couple of natural retorts here.
The first is that with no other fit striker, surely Mourinho has no choice but to roll the dice?
The second is to suggest that age is no impediment if a player is good enough. Look at Marcus Rashford, who as an 18-year-old scored four goals in his first two games for Manchester United this week in 2016.
There is an important distinction to make here though, as according to one source Rashford was “in a different galaxy” to where Parrott is now when he got his chance at United. And even then, he was only playing because Louis van Gaal was faced with an injury crisis even worse than the one Mourinho is grappling with, having lost 13 players including Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Adnan Januzaj and even potential makeshift striker Marouane Fellaini. This in turn shows that managers will only “roll the dice” in this way if there is a genuine belief that the player is ready.
Rashford is also the exception rather than the rule, as the step up from youth to senior football is enormous.
Mason Greenwood and Gabriel Martinelli are other 18-year-olds to have made an impact this season, but generally it takes longer.
Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham is only this season cracking the Premier League as a 22-year-old after full seasons out on loan gaining experience in the Championship, Woolwich’s Eddie Nketiah is finally getting minutes at age 20, while Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster is on loan at Swansea City in the second tier as his 20th birthday approaches. Harry Kane was 20 before he started playing with any sort of regularity for Spurs’ first team.
And unlike all of those players, Parrott is not a polished academy product who has been reared for the Premier League from an early age. He only officially joined Tottenham two years ago.
That all being said, given Spurs’ injury crisis it is not unreasonable to expect Parrott to at least be making match-day squads — especially after he signed a three-year contract a few weeks ago. Instead, he has not even been on the bench for the last three games.
This is where the “bit more to it” element comes in.
Sources have told The Athletic that there have been questions over Parrott’s mentality and application of late. Others have registered surprise at the striker’s apparent immaturity, especially when surrounded by his mates. Mourinho meanwhile appeared to suggest the player lacks “emotional control” last week.
Though again it’s worth remembering Parrott has only just turned 18.
And there are other elements to this story.
It has been suggested to The Athletic that a deal was close to being agreed with Charlton Athletic in January for Parrott to join the Championship club on loan until the end of the season. In any event, the switch was scuppered by an obscure UEFA rule that meant Parrott would not have been eligible as a homegrown player in European competition if he had completed the move. Players are required to complete two consecutive years at a club to be counted as homegrown, and since Parrott joined Tottenham on his 16th birthday — February 4, 2018 — he needed to stay until after the transfer window closed to qualify. Otherwise he would have been classed as a foreign player.
Parrott has naturally been left frustrated at the situation — his anger directed at UEFA’s rule not Spurs — especially as not playing will likely prevent him from being picked for Ireland’s Euro 2020 squad. Shortly after the transfer window closed, Ireland’s manager Mick McCarthy said: “I wish he’d gone to Charlton and played games on loan. He couldn’t go out before because of his age and I understand that, but if he’s not playing competitive football he has very little chance of being in the squad.”
Parrott is also understood not to have been given an explanation as to why he is not being selected for Spurs, instead relying on Mourinho’s statements to the media. Harry Winks was similarly left in the dark when he was struggling for minutes at the turn of the year — though this lack of communication is surprisingly commonplace among leading managers. Mauricio Pochettino operated in much the same way when he was at Tottenham.
Some observers attribute Parrott’s lack of game time to Mourinho’s perceived aversion to playing youngsters. One source pointed to Ryan Sessegnon’s struggle for minutes since Mourinho took over as evidence of this, coupled with historical examples like Romelu Lukaku under him at Chelsea. By way of response, Mourinho said on the weekend: “Some managers do it [play youngsters] for the stats. They play them once, then that’s it.” It should be pointed out that thus far this is what Mourinho has done with Parrott.
December saw Mourinho point to Scott McTominay at Manchester United and Raphael Varane at Real Madrid to counter the idea that he has been reluctant to develop young talent. At his Old Trafford introductory press conference in 2016 meanwhile he claimed to have “promoted 49 youth players from academies”. At Spurs, 20-year-old defender Japhet Tanganga has broken into the first team over the past couple of months.
But it’s important not to get bogged down in Mourinho’s past. What matters is that Parrott eventually gets his chance — this, after all, is a player who multiple Tottenham sources have compared to a young Kane.
Whether Mourinho is the ideal manager to develop him is open to debate but all Parrott can do is make it impossible for the head coach not to pick him. He’ll surely get his chance — it’s just a question of when.
In the meantime, Tottenham supporters may be faced with asking why Parrott is not playing for a little while longer.
I'm not complaining theres a journalist out there who doesn't hate us. He's a decent one too. Here you guy Bojan, worth the read.It's behind a paywall. Did Matt write this wearing his chelsea kit?
Sam Surridge was recalled from his loan at Swansea City in January, having made his England Under-21 debut last October. Goalkeeper Mark Travers has already been capped for the Republic of Ireland.
Teddy Jenks, an 18-year-old midfielder, and 17-year-old defender Haydon Roberts both played in the Carabao Cup defeat to Aston Villa this season, along with Swedish youth international midfielder Peter Gwargis.
Corey Brennan was at Manchester United and Wigan before joining Burnley at Under-13 level. He signed a two-year scholarship ahead of this season and the 17-year-old midfielder has been watched closely by manager Sean Dyche.
Tino Anjorin may be the next in line to break through, but there is plenty more talent under the 18-year-old. Charlie Webster is still only 16, but the midfielder has caused a lot of excitement at the club, while Henry Lawrence and Lewis Bate are worth keeping an eye on.
Tyrick Mitchell has already caused excitement among Crystal Palace fans and, aged 20, the defender will hope to make his first-team debut soon. His room-mate Nya Kirby is also progressing well after being signed from Tottenham Hotspur.
England Under-19 international striker Anthony Gordon has made two substitute appearances in the Premier League, having been prolific for the club at youth level. Under him, Roman Quintyne is a 15-year-old midfielder who has already earned some rave reviews.
George Hirst may be the most recognisable name among Leicester’s youth ranks, due to his father David, but it is 18-year-old left-back Luke Thomas who is rated as the dark horse to make a real impact on the first team squad. Khanya Leshabela, a 20-year-old midfielder, is also fancied.
Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones are already well known talents, but 17-year-old striker Layton Stewart has shown a real eye for goal and, born in Liverpool, hopes to follow in the footsteps of Robbie Fowler. Neco Williams and Ki-Jana Hoever are two more teenagers to watch for.
Son of long-throw specialist Rory, Liam Delap is a bull-dozing striker whose power belies his 17 years of age. Midfielder Tommy Doyle, whose grandfathers Mike Doyle and Glyn Pardoe were team-mates at City, played in this season’s Carabao Cup and FA Cup. Attacking midfielder Ben Knight (17) was signed for £1 million from Ipswich Town.
His £9m price take and eye-catching hair make Hannibal Mejbri the stand-out individual in United youth ranks, but Tden Mengi, a 17-year-old defender, and 18-year-old right-back Ethan Laird are rated just as highly inside the club.
Son of former midfielder Lee, Bobby Clark is just 15 years old but has already drawn interest from Tottenham Hotspur. He can play almost everywhere, but has predominantly used as a midfielder so far in his fledgling career. Despite interest from Spurs, Clark is said to be happy at his dad’s old club.
The Canaries have had recent success with some of their young players and there look to be more to follow. Lewis Shipley, a 16-year-old defender, may just be the pick of them, but winger Josh Martin (18) and defender Sam McCallum (19) could soon break through.
Released by Manchester United in the summer of 2019, 21-year-old midfielder Callum Gribbin has shown plenty of promise since joining Sheffield United. Forward David Parkhouse has attracted interest from Celtic and Everton, and could move on after rejecting a new contract offer from the Blades.
Famed for the academy success of Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale, the Saints will no doubt give chances to the likes of 18-year-old midfielder Will Ferry, signed from Bury, 18-year-old goalkeeper Jack Bycroft and 20-year-old left-back Jake Vokins. Midfielder Will Smallbone impressed in his Premier League debut against Aston Villa.
There might not be another Harry Kane around the corner, but 18-year-old full back Dennis Cirkin has already earned high praise from head coach Jose Mourinho. Jamie Bowden is a midfielder of the same age who has likened himself to Harry Winks.
Joao Pedro was allowed to join up with Watford in January after the Brazilian forward’s work permit was approved last October. Signed from Fluminese, Pedro won the Copa do Brasil goal of the tournament and has already been hyped up by the Hornets.
WEST HAM UNITED
Jamal Baptiste is a 16-year-old defender who has been compared to Issa Diop and has played for England Under-17s along with forward Amadou Diallo, who has attracted interest from home and abroad and captained England U17s against Russia. Dan Chesters (18) is a midfielder in the Jack Grealish mould.
Full-back Luke Matheson joined Wolves for around £1m from Rochdale in January, having made a name for himself against Manchester United. Already at the club were 17-year-old Chem Campbell and Taylor Perry who are two highly-rated midfielders