Mourinho Says Scarlett Debut Good for Tottenham Academy

Tottenham Hotspur's Portuguese head coach Jose Mourinho November 21, 2020. (Photo by CLIVE ROSE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Tottenham Hotspur's Portuguese head coach Jose Mourinho November 21, 2020. (Photo by CLIVE ROSE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

In his press conference following the Tottenham win over Ludogorets José Mourinho spoke about his young players and the process that led to their inclusion.

Sometimes the Europa League Group Stage experience can feel tedious. However, when there are nights like Thursday evening and a couple players can make their debut in a Tottenham win, it can be a glorious affair. We asked to see the youth and on Thursday we got it. Young players Harvey White and Dane Scarlett made their debuts and seldom used keeper Alfie Whiteman got to play as well. Afterwards, José Mourinho shed some insight on the decisions that led to White, Whiteman, and Scarlett getting their chances.

Why These Three Spurs?

José Mourinho said he did not know about beforehand it would be a new club record, rather the 16-year-olds inclusion was a club decision. José spoke about how he “didn’t decide by myself” who to bring to the game from a youth perspective. Once Mourinho “felt there was space in the squad” – presumably from the injury to Giovani Lo Celso – he proceeded to ask the “football director” and the “academy director” to contact “all the coaches to see who deserved a place in the squad”.

Noting that the Under-18s are doing rather well, Mourinho said there were a few possible names, and one they gave him was Dane Scarlett, who knew José already from the preseason. Mourinho also knew “it would be a good chance for him” given the size of the squad and the situation. So, Scarlett was the recommendation of the academy and as such, Mourinho said his playing should be a “good feeling for everyone of the academy” in seeing Tottenham’s new youngest ever play.

As for the inclusion of White and Whiteman, apparently “Harvey White is training with us (the first team) everyday for about a year” and “his evolution is good” according to Mourinho. So White being in the squad is not much of a surprise given the size of the bench in Europa League and his previous appearances in the squad, but not on the pitch.

Alfie Whiteman is the third or even fourth team keeper depending on how you perceive Paulo Gazzaniga. Mourinho noted how normally he does not have the opportunity to keep Whiteman “even on the bench” the larger squad sizes and Hugo Lloris having the night off made it possible. Alfie is part of the senior squad; he was still an academy product and it was a great night for the academy. With one academy product, one U-23, and one U-18 player all making appearances, José Mourinho was right, it should be a “good feeling for everyone at the academy,” a good feeling of pride.

What’s Next for the Three Youth

All three players did their part in the nine minutes plus injury time they had on the pitch. Both Scarlett and White got shots off, which Scarlett coming close to scoring, but was denied by a solid save from the Ludogorets goalkeeper. Alfie Whiteman handled the one and only ball he saw, which was more than Joe Hart did in his 81 minutes on the pitch, so bravo to Whiteman for a job done.

From here it is possible that we will see more of all three players later in Europa League. If Tottenham can beat LASK they will likely be qualified for the knock-out stages, even if the final game with Royal Antwerp is to top the group. In other words, there may be more time available during the group stage. Beside the possibility of late Europa League games or matchday six, there are the cups.

Tottenham are preparing for Day 5 of the League Carabao Cup, which may hold a possibility for rotation into the youth. Additionally, the third round of the FA Cup is still to come in January, which may present yet another opportunity for some of the younger players to get a run out. The reality is, the Premier League and then the knock out stages are likely not the place to get playing time for any of the three youth right now, so we need to hope for more nights like Thursday where the glory is found in opportunity fulfilled.