Jose Mourinho picks typically horrible time to throw Troy Parrott under the bus
How have we got to the stage where Jose Mourinho is engaged in a one-way war of words with an 18-year-old?
Troy Parrott got his fourth senior start for Tottenham, on Wednesday night, and he had a good clutch of minutes to make an impression. Having just turned 18 last month, this in itself is a remarkable achievement.
However, given the hype already surrounding Parrott and his goalscoring feats for Spurs and Ireland's age grade sides, the expectation levels are already high. Irish supporters are not the only ones eagerly seeking Parrott to feature more regularly for Tottenham.
With Harry Kane out injured for another couple of months and Heung-Min Son on the short-term injury list, many of the the Spurs faithful have been urging Jose Mourinho to give the teenager a chance. Mourinho has countered by insisting that Parrott needs time, is nowhere near ready for a regular run and that some Spurs fans don't know whether the Dubliner 'has short hair or long hair'.
Against Norwich, in the FA Cup fifth round, Mourinho turned to Parrott for extra time as he replaced a flagging Delle Alli. The resounding cheers that went up around Tottenham Hotspur Stadium were an indication of the support the young forward already has from home fans.
Within minutes of his arrival he had stung the palms of Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul with a low drive. That was as close as either side got in extra time and the game went to penalties.
For Parrott, what could have been such an uplifting night ended up in crushing disappointment as Krul guessed correctly and dived the right way [albeit a yard off his goal-line] to save the spot-kick.
Krul would also go on to save Gedson Fernandes' penalty while Erik Lamela skimmed the crossbar with his missed attempt. Norwich marched on to the quarter finals while Spurs penultimate chance of finishing the season with a cup evaporated. They are still in the Champions League but trail RB Leipzig 1-0 after the first leg of their Last 16 fixture.
Krul has a reputation for trying to intimidate penalty-takers and he had a few choice words for Parrott before his kick:
Tim Krul admits he got inside Troy Parrott's head before his penalty last night: "The young lad, Parrott, I played a little bit with his head. I said, 'I haven't seen many penalties from you when I've done my homework' and he just looked at me."
One for Parrott to learn from
— Jonathan Veal (@jonathandveal83) March 5, 2020
Parrott has scored a few penalties at underage level before, including a cheeky Paneka on his Ireland U19 debut in October 2018, but this was high pressure stuff against a Dutch master.
Following his side's shoot-out exit, Jose Mourinho defended Parrott for his miss before needlessly taking the opportunity to score some points against football pundits, writers and his side's own supporters. Mourinho told the BBC:
"The penalty is nothing. He is a penalty taker in the Under 23s, he scores every one in the unders. He was so confident, he wanted to take one, he wanted to take the responsibility; it’s an experience in his career.
"The problem is not his experience. The problem is the 30 minutes. Now people can see that he has to work a lot so don’t think that Parrott is the second Harry Kane because he’s just a young kid that needs to work."
Mourinho once again happy to show the world that his hands are tied and that he has a fallow youth to work with instead of world-class striking options.
Imagine what that could do for Parrott's confidence, piled atop his crucial miss in a penalty shoot-out cup exit. Not exactly fair, from Mourinho, but the Portuguese has a long history of putting his own needs first. This was the same Mourinho that constantly chided Marcus Rashford for his commitment levels only to then take credit for his form now that he has left Manchester United.
There is a one-way war of words going on between 57-year-old man and an 18-year-old learning his way in a fast-paced and often ruthless game.
One just hopes that Troy Parrott keeps his head down and is afforded another chance, or two, this season to show what he is made of.