• Fred Delves

Ryan Mason replaces Mourinho at Spurs – How important is age for a manager?

Amidst all the drama of the Super League, news broke on Monday morning that Spurs had sacked Jose Mourinho, just six days away from the Carabao Cup Final. Fans questioned the timing of the decision, with Jose’s impressive record at cup finals and Spurs being desperate to win their first trophy since 2008. However, it wasn’t a massive surprise that Jose’s time was up at Spurs after their poor form had left them seventh in the table.

Ryan Mason was the man chosen to take over till the end of the season, being promoted from Head of Player Development to Interim Manager. This came as a shock to most as he has never managed a professional side and his coaching experience is sparse since his playing career was cut short after a horrific incident in 2017. Despite this, you’ll do well to find an individual who knows more about the club than Ryan does and his close relationship with the players can only help him going forward.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Hartford Athletic manager Harry Watling on young coaches taking the step up to professional management, having been appointed Hartford manager at just 31 years of age. Harry has coached various youth teams across London in his career and took the step up to the professional level with Hartford Athletic in January.

When asking about the advantages of managing at a younger age, he believes that he can, “relate with the players far easier.” This should also play a big part for Ryan, with his age (29) being close to Spurs’ key players Kane, Bale and Son so it should allow their relationship to be closer than under the previous regime.

I then asked Harry if anything in his coaching style has changed with the jump from youth teams to a professional side and he responded, “It doesn’t change. What do players all want? They all want to know; how can this coach make me a better player? Of course you have to tweak how you layer your detail, how you approach the game with more individual and unit work but the fundamentals of teaching and learning do not change.”

I also questioned Harry on how he believes Ryan will fare as Spurs boss and he expressed his support to the new Tottenham manager. “I’m delighted for Ryan. A horrific stop to his career was so unjust. Who knows Harry Kane better? Not many people. With Ledley King alongside him I believe he will do the club proud.”

Harry can clearly see a promising future for Ryan Mason and Spurs fans will want nothing more than to see one of their own have success at the helm. He became the youngest manager ever in the Premier League and the names beside him have encountered differing levels of success.

Chris Coleman is the third youngest manager on the list for when he took over Fulham at just 32 years of age and saved them from relegation in the 2002-03 season. He then earned the job on a full-time bases and remained Fulham boss for 4 years. On the other hand, Andreas Villas Boas is an example of a young manager not performing too well with two poor spells as both Chelsea and Spurs boss. He was just 33 when he took the Chelsea job and many would say that it was too big too soon for the former Porto man who is still seen as a very promising coach.

Ryan, although he may not admit it, will have one eye on earning the permanent role and with the reported number one target Julian Nagelsmann joining Bayern Munich in the summer, Spurs may have the ideal candidate under their noses.

Written by Fred Delves