This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Tottenham Hotspur need to start playing the kids.
This season is already a write-off and Spurs have nowhere to turn but to their youth academy.
After their 1-1 draw with Sheffield United, they lie 14th in the Premier League table, 11 points off the top four.
They are closer to the relegation zone than they are to the Champions League qualification spots and one feels that they may well have to settle for mid-table obscurity this term.
Indeed, it is hard to imagine one of Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea or Leicester City being involved in such a slump that they allow the door to slip ajar. And even if it does, who is to say Spurs would be in a position to take advantage?
They haven’t won in the Premier League since September and have not picked up three points on the road since January, when they beat Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage. For some context, Fulham are now in the Championship, having been relegated last term.
Of course, there are major financial implications to merely throwing your hands up as a football club and accepting that there is unlikely to be any proper growth in a single season.
But this is the mentality that Spurs ought to adopt.
They have a number of young players knocking on the door of the first-team and there are players within that starting XI who are unlikely to be around when the 2020/21 season starts. Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen all have contracts that expire in the summer and it’s likely that they’ll all leave.
Now, then, is the time to blood the youth.
Think of the likes of Japhet Tanganga, Troy Parrott, Oliver Skipp and Tashan Oakley-Boothe.
How fantastic would it be for all of them to be given regular first-team minutes in the top-flight?
It’s a sink-or-swim question but they have all made their senior debuts and they could also give this club the rejuvenation it so desperately needs.
As it is, you can pretty much name the starting XI when everyone is fit: Hugo Lloris in goal; a back four of Serge Aurier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen and Danny Rose; a midfield duo of Moussa Sissoko and Tanguy Ndombele; an attacking trident of Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane at the tip of the spear.
It’s stale and it needs to change.
Now, this isn’t to say that Parrott, who has scored 27 goals in 34 games for the youth teams, should be promoted to the role of first-choice striker.
He’s 17 and precocious, while Skipp is clearly trusted, having hit double figures for the senior side, but still just 19 and Tanganga has only played against Colchester United. Oakley-Boothe made his debut against Barnsley in 2017 and played a single minute in the Carabao Cup.
But promoting them, giving them the shot, and seeing if they thrive is really all Spurs have left this season. The sooner they accept that, the better.
The best case scenario is that they could end up with four new stars on their hands; the worst is that at least a few of the first-team players notice the competition for places and buck up their ideas.