LONDON (Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho is excited about his latest young signings as he seeks to rebuild last season’s Champions League finalists following a slump this term that has left them struggling for a top-four spot in the Premier League.
The Spurs boss, criticised in the past for relying too much on experienced players, appears keen to develop a young squad, having recruited Dutchman Steven Bergwijn, 21, and Portuguese loan signing Gedson Fernandes, 19, in the January window.
Fernandes made his first start in the FA Cup fourth round tie at Southampton last weekend and Mourinho said Bergwijn, who joined the club on Wednesday, will be involved in Sunday’s Premier League game at home to champions Manchester City.
Tottenham have had a difficult start to 2020, with England striker Harry Kane and France international Moussa Sissoko injured in the defeat at Southampton on New Year’s Day, leaving them short in midfield and without a recognised striker.
With experienced players like Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose leaving the club, Mourinho was frank about the team’s struggles and the issues that a predominantly young side could face without the guidance of older players.
“There is always a capital of experience that is needed in a team of young players,” Mourinho told reporters on Friday.
“Only young players is a team always with some naivety but on the other side, it’s very exciting to work with a young team.
“The young player is normally also a player that, when they have quality and the right personality, don’t feel the pressure. They have no fears, they go with an open mind, they go to meet the future. So I’m more than happy.”
Mourinho believes winger Bergwijn, who cost a reported 30 million euros (25.32 million pounds), is a great long-term investment.
“He is the kind of player that is good for now but is also good for our future, and also good for the direction that we want to go,” he said.
Mourinho added that Eriksen’s departure to Inter Milan for a reported transfer fee of 20 million euros was a good piece of business by Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy since the Denmark playmaker only had six months left on his contract.
“He (Levy) did a fantastic deal for a player who is free in a few months. And again that money was reinvested in the purchase of Steven, who now has a 5-1/2 year contract with us and has fantastic conditions to be very good for us.”
Mourinho said Spurs were focussing on short-term goals, while keeping a watchful eye on the future.
“I was not told anything other than ‘try to win the next game’, that’s what we all agreed. A vision for the future and let’s try to do the best we can this season,” he said.
Spurs are sixth, 17 points adrift of second-placed City and six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea who occupy the final Champions League qualifying spot.
Reporting by Sophie Drew; Editing by Ken Ferris and Ian Chadband