Opinion: Mourinho needs to give Japhet Tanganga a chance to grow

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Spurs’ defence has been suspect all season and I’m not just talking about the centre backs. With the exception of Sergio Reguilon, none of our players at the back fill me with any confidence these days. 

However, one player who I have been impressed with ever since his emergence into the squad, is Japhet Tanganga.

The twenty-one-year-old memorably delivered a standout performance on his debut against Liverpool last season, starting a strong run of performances, before three key injuries derailed his progress.

The Englishman’s comeback was timely. Mirroring last season, Tanganga was thrown in at the deep end once again, tasked with playing at right-back away to Manchester City on February 13th. I, personally, thought that he was the only player who could hold his head high after that game.

But ever since, the man has been pretty anonymous. Mourinho selected him for the away trip to West Ham a week later, but Tanganga was then yanked off at half-time to make way for Matt Doherty.

And that’s the last we’ve seen of him. Tanganga hasn’t been given a single minute of game-time in any fixture since February 21st, which has included two Europa League matches. Tanganga didn’t even make the bench for the recent trip to Arsenal.

I simply don’t understand it. As well as possessing several positive attributes which make him a promising centre back, such as his pace and strength, Jose Mourinho has also stated that he sees Tanganga as a right-back moving forward.

So, even if the manager is reluctant to play him in a central pairing, despite him arguably being better than the rest, there is no doubt that he has the defensive awareness that should put him above Aurier and Doherty in the pecking order at right-back.

I don’t recall Tanganga having ever made any significant mistake in the first team, so the reason for his absences are unclear. The same could be said regarding Joe Rodon and his lack of game time (apart from that one error against Liverpool).

However, with Tanganga, his ability to play in multiple positions has made his absences all the more surprising, especially given our defensive frailties across the entire back four.

Whether there are issues behind the scenes, we’ll never know. But if Mourinho is struggling to find his best team, he should look no further than this young talent. 

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