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Mourinho: I’m not counting on Son coming back this season

Sonny may heal quickly, but Tottenham’s head coach isn’t planning for it.

Tottenham Hotspur Training Session Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images

Spurs fans are still reeling from this morning’s news that Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min is set to miss significant time this season after injuring his right arm in the opening minutes of the 3-2 win at Aston Villa. It’s certainly a huge blow to Tottenham’s hopes for finishing top four/five in the Premier League this season, and it makes the odds of getting past RB Leipzig in the Champions League Round of 16 that much more difficult.

If you optimistically thinking that Sonny, like Harry Kane, might be set for a return to the starting lineup before the end of the season, manager Jose Mourinho has a message for you: don’t get your hopes up. Speaking in a press conference this morning, Spurs’ boss said that he’s operating on the assumption that Sonny’s injury is a season-ending one and will be proceeding as though he will not have him available until next August.

“The situation couldn’t be worse in terms of options. It’s a very, very obvious situation. There is nothing that you can do. We are going to play with the players that we have available. The players are going to give everything, which is what they are doing. In some periods I was worried about not having attacking options on the bench, now it’s not having attacking options on the pitch.”

“I’m not going to count on him again this season. If he plays two or three games then it’s because [Spurs press officer Simon Felstein] is very optimistic, but I’m not counting on him.”

If Mourinho sounds a bit fatalistic, it’s because he is. Losing Harry Kane was bad enough, but with Son out Spurs are without their two best attacking players, and it’s an open question as to where the offense is going to come from. Ironically, the Villa match was the one where Sonny finally started and played 90 minutes in the central forward position as opposed to Lucas Moura.

But Mou is obviously a little despondent, as he made clear in his comments to the press. He likened Spurs’ pursuit of the top four to climbing a set of stairs.

“Yes [has to be a different style]. If I don’t say something strong you’re going to ask the same questions. You know I like analogies. Sometimes I do good ones and sometimes silly ones. This time I do this. When we arrived we were in minus 12 floor, we got on the stairs and we started climbing. But immediately the stairs broke and trouble. We were trying to find a way. Lots of effort but we were going and going. Then 11th floor and when we arrived on the fourth floor, where we wanted to arrive, someone took the stairs away so we are now in trouble. We are holding by our arms on the balcony.

“Now we have two options. To fall and die because it’s the fourth floor. The other is to climb. We will be on that balcony fighting with everything we have. There is only one possibility. No strikers, no market, no players nothing. The only help now is our crowd. The Tottenham supporters. That’s the only thing I ask because I can’t ask any more from the players that they’re giving. which is everything they have.”

With Sonny out, that probably means that Lucas is going to slot back in at the tip of the spear, and it’s not exactly a position that has led to a lot of shots. But we could see Mourinho try something different. One option would be to have Dele play as a false striker, with Steven Bergwijn, Lucas, and an advanced Giovani Lo Celso operating behind and from the flanks. Another option could involve Erik Lamela, though Spurs announced this morning that he is “being assessed” with a possible thigh injury and might not be available. One wild theory has Bergwijn moved to striker, a position he’s played this season for PSV, especially in the Europa League.

What we probably won’t see is Troy Parrott or Ryan Sessegnon at the tip of the spear. Mourinho made it clear in his comments. “My thoughts are” he said, “that Troy Parrott is not ready and Ryan Sessegnon is not a striker.”

We won’t have long to wait. Tottenham play RB Leipzig in the Champions League tomorrow evening. Presumably SOMEONE will be shouldering the offensive burden put down by Sonny by that time.