Jose Mourinho just can’t seem to escape the Troy Parrott questions. A couple of days after Parrott was a (very) late substitute in Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-3 loss to Wolves, after which Mourinho said he was “not ready,” he was asked again by reporters about whether Parrott would be involved in Wednesday’s FA Cup match against Norwich.
This time, Mourinho confirmed that he’d be on the bench for the Spurs first team, but again cautioned everyone that he’s taking a very careful line with the youngster, despite his prodigious talent.
“He will be on the bench tomorrow. We cannot tell you obviously every detail but we’re taking good care of a young player and also taking care of a young boy in society, in private life. That’s a process.
”He’s 18. One month ago he was 17, so he’s not even close to being 19. Yesterday, we decided it was good for him to play but we decided before the game it was only for 45 minutes, to give him some match time but not 90 minutes because tomorrow he’s going to be on the bench. It’s a process.
”We take care of the players. It was not my work but for [Harry] Winks to arrive in the position of club captain in a Premier League match shows what can be done in this club. A kid comes here, at nine- or 10-years-old, taken care of, plays in the first team and arrives at a moment where he even wears the armband. Troy is a process. He’s a very young kid with a lot, a lot, a lot to learn.”
[Insert obligatory “he’s 18 until he’s 19” joke here]
Mourinho’s not wrong, and we’ve said it here before that there’s a lot that can go wrong from rushing a youngster too quickly into the pressure cooker that is Premier League football. It’s not hard to find examples of players who were precocious and young talents with extremely bright future who couldn’t handle the pressure at that age and flamed out. Not everyone is Wayne Rooney.
These comments come a day after Parrott made his return to U23 football, scoring a goal (assisted by Maurizio Pochettino!) in a 3-2 Premier League 2 win over Wolves. His performance, according to The Athletic (£), reportedly impressed Tottenham’s coaching staff, and was probably the catalyst to Mourinho naming him to the bench for the Cup.
It’s tempting to chuck Parrott in the starting lineup considering Spurs are nigh desperate for offense, and Parrott is undoubtedly a player with incredible talent. What Mourinho is saying is that he’s not going to risk potentially breaking his academy star just because they have a first team need.
“[Troy] has qualities. He has potential but he’s not an end product. He has a lot to learn, a lot to develop at every level. He’s going to be on the bench again tomorrow again. A few minutes he played already, he already has two Premier League appearances which is not normal for an 18-year-old kid.
”He’s a privileged one. I think he understands the privilege of being part of the first team training every day, learning with experiences players and coaches, with very people also in the academy. He’s a privileged one. Step by step.”
That’ll start with a spot on the bench tomorrow against Norwich. Maybe he plays. Maybe he doesn’t. What’s clear is that The Special One obviously thinks highly of The Privileged One, and has a plan for his development, even if that plan isn’t the one fans want to hear.