Ryan Mason takes charge of his first game as Tottenham Hotspur’s interim boss later this evening as the struggling north London outfit welcome Southampton in the Premier League.
The 29-year-old was appointed following the surprise sacking of Jose Mourinho earlier this week and has been tasked with steering the ship for the remainder of the season, alongside fellow youth coach Chris Powell.
It’ll be the culmination of a 20-year association for the former academy graduate, having risen up through the ranks to make his first-team debut aged just 17 in November 2008, to captaining the side, and leading out Spurs’ next crop of youngsters in a coaching capacity after seeing his playing career tragically cut short.
The Lilywhites sit five points adrift of the top four in seventh place, and a win could see them leapfrog defending champions, Liverpool, their failed European Super League co-conspirators.
It’s a big week for Mason and the team as they also have the small matter of the Carabao Cup final against runaway leaders Manchester City on Sunday. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how he shakes up the side post-Mourinho.
The Portuguese’s final swansong saw Spurs draw 2-2 with Everton and once again, they were victims of their own downfall as that recurring theme of defensive mistakes cost them dearly.
Now, there is very little he can do outside of a window to drastically change these fortunes, but he could do himself the world of good if he opts to drop several players that have continuously let the side down.
Serge Aurier is perhaps one who falls into this category more than anyone.
The £23m arrival from PSG was here under Mauricio Pochettino, where Harry Redknapp claimed that “they’ve [the players] got him the sack,” and remained a key part of first-team plans under Mourinho, too, so the same must be said – surely?
According to The Sun, Daniel Levy feared a revolt after several stars came to him slamming the Special One’s methods in recent weeks.
Initially, things looked to be changing as the Ivorian right-back usurped summer signing Matt Doherty in the starting XI, and whilst he somehow found his way back in recently, it didn’t take long for his old self to come to the surface.
Once lambasted as a “liability” by ex-striker Darren Bent, Aurier was the brunt of the scathing criticism following defeat to Manchester United and Sky Sports’ punditry duo of Roy Keane and Micah Richards went to town on the Spurs star.
“He’s got a rick in him. He has caused loads of problems. I have described him as a bit of a car crash,” explained Keane (via a clip sourced by Football Daily). “Defensively I think he doesn’t smell danger or see the danger. And that’s been a huge problem for Spurs, the right-back position.”
And Richards believes his inability to track back has cost them hugely in recent matches, adding that Aurier was “lazy.”
After being axed from the side for five straight league outings, the defensive calamity was trusted to start against United, and then Everton. In neither game did he manage to surpass a rating of 6.3, as per SofaScore.
The £18m-rated will only let Mason down too if he starts tonight, so the caretaker boss must show no mercy and look to axe him from the starting XI.
Perhaps he can instead trust a player he’s worked with in the academy set-up in Japhet Tanganga, who in truth, has done little wrong to warrant losing his place.
AND in other news, Levy could find Spurs’ next Pochettino in 45 y/o gem who has WOWED Guardiola…