In making a defining statement, Jose Mourinho may have just found the solution to one of his long-standing Tottenham Hotspur problems.
The Spurs boss named a surprise lineup for their trip to Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon, and it paid off as they returned to north London with all three points and a clean sheet.
Mourinho sprung a bit of a surprise as young defensive duo Japhet Tanganga and Joe Rodon were preferred to Matt Doherty, Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld and Serge Aurier.
In part down to performances, and in part down to illness. Either way, this decision clearly sent a rocket through the Spurs squad.
As we outlined after the match, Rodon arguably stole the show – the likes of Harry Kane and Lucas Moura, who delivered key attacking contributions on their way to a 2-0 victory will take much of the plaudits but the Welsh starlet was a colossal presence against Villa, who are no relegation candidates this season.
That was the 23-year-old’s fifth Premier League start but you wouldn’t have known that judging by his display. He has never let Spurs down when featuring in the top-flight.
On debut, he spearheaded the backline towards a clean sheet against Mourinho’s former club, Chelsea, and his performance drew glowing praise from the Sky Sports team (via Wales Online).
Roy Keane claimed that Rodon had a “bright future ahead of him” as he “looked composed” against the vastly-experienced Olivier Giroud, whilst similarly, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink lauded the 6 foot 4 colossus as a “proper Spurs player” who seemed “comfortable.”
Mourinho’s biggest problem has been in defence this season, as ex-goalkeeper, Paul Robinson told Football Insider:
“It has been the biggest problem area for Spurs all season, centre-half. Whoever it has been, Dier, Alderweireld, Sanchez or Rodon it has not worked or at least Mourinho has not liked it. There has not been a consistent pairing all season. Not one centre-half has shown good enough consistency this season.”
That could now be about to change, if the Spurs boss keeps the faith with Rodon.
He put in three clearances, made two interceptions and recorded one tackle, displaying an excellent reading of the game against the lethal threat of the 12-goal Ollie Watkins.
“He’s got every physical and mental attribute you need to be successful in that position,” explained Andy Hinchcliffe to Sky Sports in the summer. It’s no wonder Mourinho signed him before the end of the domestic window, but now he really ought to be given a proper run of matches.
If the £13.5m-rated beast half the player of Terry, then Mourinho will have stumbled across a very viable solution.
AND in other news, Spurs handed Sergio Reguilon transfer boost…