Japhet Tanganga made his Spurs debut against among the world’s very best players through the summertime in Cristiano Ronaldo in a game v Juventus. In his very first training session, Jose Mourinho made a beeline for the Englishman and also made it known that he had been aware of this. Fast forward into this 11th January of the same season. After the team sheets for the Liverpool game were announced it had been revealed that young Japhet Tanganga would make his Premier League debut. This time not against one of the world’s best players. but arguably three of them! This might have raised a few eyebrows among the faithful but the calmest man in the stadium was undoubtedly Tanganga himself.
This brings back memories of two famous clashes v Liverpool involving debutants. In May 1999 a certain Ledley King made his Spurs debut in a 3-2 defeat at Anfield of places. The rest, as they say, is history……..When looking back at this match a range of facts frees up. Primarily there was the Liverpool trio of Friedel, Leonardson and Redknapp. All three also symbolizing Spurs with some differentiation. Second (and I would challenge the most knowledgeable of Spurs history students to recall this) the Norwegian Roger Nilson made one of the three Spurs appearances. Ultimately, George Graham handled Spurs. A manager who struggled to win fans over but delivered a trophy. Let us hope that Mourinho can replicate the silverware but have more joy with the fans! Owners ENIC for an alleged breach of contract sacked in 2001 the former Arsenal manager. Interestingly earlier that week Graham had gone to the press and cited a transfer budget. A lot has proceeded on in the intervening years the stadium. Some matters apparently do not change………The next November Spurs hosted Liverpool. This was an era when Spurs fans did not have great expectations when playing Liverpool. Albeit there’s been a level playing field in the intervening years, this feeling much the same experienced at the lead up to the game.The symmetry continued with Alton Thelwell making his debut in an XI comprising eight Englishmen. This was a more left-field pick than Tanganga with Thelwell coming up against the lethal duo of both Fowler and Owen. The kid only proceeded to represent Spurs 18 times but had a decent lower league career, most notably with Hull and Leyton Orient. Interestingly this match has been recognized as the game in which Ledley King cemented his position as a first-team regular with a leading performance in the middle of midfield. Against the chances Spurs emerged victorious by two goals to one with goals coming from Sir Les and ex-manager Tim Sherwood. Regrettably, the similarities with now ended here as Spurs slipped to defeat from the odd aim. While some may argue that there are positives another pointless match has additional harmed top-four ambitions. I will nevertheless accept the positives that this performance is used as a catalyst for improvement. The players MUST replicate the desire shown from the forthcoming games against Middlesbrough and Watford today in this game. Now’s efforts should not be in isolation. I believe there was enough evidence today that the man that some resistance fans and journalists label a dinosaur isn’t quite burst yet. Tactically the Portuguese supervisor did not do a lot wrong considering that the squad. I really don’t think Mourinho might have done a lot more baring safeguarding the throw and strapping on his own boots.
The performance gave Spurs fans expect that there is a method of playing regardless of the pre-game protestations of Mourinho. I especially liked the fact that Son and Moura traded left wing and centre forward positions and felt that the right wing position suited Aurier more than his customary defensive role. (Maybe a sad indictment of the present depth of the group, however )Mourinho resisted the desire to play with five with Alli playing close to the centre forward at the middle. This meant meaning an approach than most as well as playing Alli in his position. Spurs occasionally went toe to toe with the best team in the world and probably should have won a point. However, the truth is Spurs fans want more than this with this team feeling a long way off from the one that was challenging the top echelons in recent seasons.
Finally, there was Mourinho’s blooding of young Tanganga, sensibly in the right full-back position. I have often felt that more aspiring centre-halves should cut their teeth this way, substantially the same as if Jamie Carragher first broke into the Liverpool team. While I have made reference to the likes of King and Carragher we should not get removed. Pochettino’s error with young Marcus Edward’s evidence that contrasts in this stage of a career are futile. However, there was enough about Tanganga’s performance now to suggest that one of Mourinho’s short term priorities should be to get the youngster on a new contract. While players can certainly show guarantee on the training ground there’s no larger test of character than a debut against the league leaders. Jose should be very satisfied with everything he saw. Since Klopp’s first match in charge, ironically a 4-1 defeat at White Hart Lane that a chasm has developed between both sides. Spurs keeping pace with all the Merseyside club only to rapidly be left behind in recent seasons. We may find a notion of who quickly Spurs are likely to close the gap from their decisiveness in the transport market both today and in the summer. Time will tell.