As Spurs sought to progress into the next round of the Capital One League Cup there will have been no doubt in manager Mauricio Pochettino’s mind that Championship Leaders Nottingham Forrest would offer them a testing encounter, but one I am sure Spurs fans would expect to win.
As Forest youngster Grant put the visitors ahead in the 61st minute, these expectations perhaps became weighed down by the possibility of an upset. However, the introduction of Ryan Mason in the second half for Spurs provided the catalyst for a comeback. Mason’s impact should not be underestimated, as aside from his stunning 30 yard strike to draw things level, his vision and willingness to attack space proved crucial for Spurs who ended the match 3-1 winners.
However pleased Mason and the Spurs hierarchy must be with his goal, for me it carries pangs of sadness, of regret and of disappointment. Here is a player who has progressed through the Spurs academy, has represented his country at both U19 and U20 level and at 23 has still only made a handful of cup competition appearances and is not even registered for the Tottenham Premier League squad. Mason has served his time with five loan spells at four different clubs, scoring 11 goals in just over 50 appearances. And yet, he cannot make an impression on the first team and is not deemed good enough for the Premier League.
There is no doubt that if Mason was foreign, then he would be raved about and would have been given more of chance to shine at White Hart Lane. In fact, if you look at his contemporaries in the 2011 England U20 squad he gained caps for, it is notable that many names have not progressed into first team Premier League squads; Michael Ngoo, formerly of Liverpool now with Kilmarnock; Reece Wabara then of Manchester City, now of Doncaster Rovers; Reece Brown, a promising defender for Manchester United, now of Barnsley to name but a few.
The blame for this must be shouldered by the Premier League and its distortion of money and priorities for clubs; success must be now and it must be at any cost in order to keep in with the rich elite. This comes at a cost, and that cost is shouldered by young English players and ultimately the English national team’s future success.
At the U20 World Cup in 2011, 31 players there played their youth football in England, more than any other nation. An exciting, cosmopolitan, win at all costs product is being created by the Premier League, but what will it’s legacy be for the likes of Ryan Mason?