20 April 2021

From reuniting squad to entertaining fans – challenges ahead for Ryan Mason

20 April 2021

Ryan Mason has been placed in interim charge of Tottenham until the end of the season.

The 29-year-old, who was forced to retire from playing aged 26, will lead Spurs following Monday’s sacking of Jose Mourinho.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what Mason’s in-tray looks like.

Reunite squad

The atmosphere had turned toxic towards the end of Mourinho’s reign amid private and public fall-outs with players, who were also leaking stories to the media, and it led to a remarkable interview by club captain Hugo Lloris after their Europa League exit, where he questioned the togetherness of the squad and called out players who were out of the team for making trouble.

Mason only has six weeks working with the squad, so it is unlikely he is going to attempt a massive tactical overhaul, but what he can do is bring the group back together as one.

He was a team-mate with 10 of the players he is now in charge of, having shared a dressing room with Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld, Erik Lamela, Lloris, Son Heung-min, Eric Dier, Harry Winks, Ben Davies and Danny Rose all in 2015-16 while he was also around the club during Gareth Bale’s first spell.

He was a part of the Mauricio Pochettino era, where a close bond saw Spurs mount a title challenge, so he will be keen to recreate that sort of spirit.

Provide a bounce ahead of Sunday

Mason has been thrown in at the deep end as in just his second game he will lead Spurs out in a cup final at Wembley.

Mourinho was brought to the club to win trophies but then sacked six days before the Carabao Cup showpiece with Manchester City.

But that goes to show that Spurs felt the Portuguese was unable to get a tune out of his side any more, and Mason will be charged with getting the players fired up and confident enough to take on City at Wembley.

While he will be under zero pressure on Sunday, it would be some story if Mason were to get the better of Pep Guardiola’s side and end a 13-year trophy drought in just his second game at the club.

Secure European football – just in case

Tottenham were in the Europa League this season after four previous Champions League campaigns (PA Wire)

It is really still up in the air about exactly what European football is going to look like next season, with Tottenham’s involvement in the controversial European Super League.

If plans for the breakaway tournament are pushed through then it does not matter where Spurs finish in the league this season as they will have a new competition to play in, regardless of their league position.

But if the resistance to the new plans result in it being curtailed and Spurs are allowed to compete in UEFA competitions next term, then they will need to finish the season strongly.

The top four has all but gone, but Europa League qualification is still achievable and four wins out of six games should do it.

Entertain the fans

There may be little expectation on Mason in terms of results, but he will be expected to introduce a more attacking style of play.

Mourinho was heavily criticised for his pragmatic tactics and his selection of five defenders and two defensive midfielders in his final game at Everton on Friday summed his time up well.

Despite an array of attacking talent, Mourinho’s first concern was to defend and it regularly proved costly as his side conceded a hatful of late goals.

Mason will surely have licence to let the reins off in the remaining seven games and see if the like of Kane, Son, Bale and Alli – the latter two who were outcasts under Mourinho – can fire them to some end-of-season success.

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