By Harry Sykes
Tottenham’s emerging stars were an “embarrassment” in their FA Youth Cup meltdown against Chelsea, according to academy chief John McDermott.
Spurs Under-18s were demolished 7-1 at Stamford Bridge in the semi-final second leg of the prestigious youth tournament on Saturday night.
It meant a 9-2 aggregate defeat over the two legs, which were both televised live, a humiliating exit one step short of the final and is set to prompt some serious navel gazing at White Hart Lane.
Spurs’ head of player development McDermott, who also coaches the youth team, did not hold back in his criticism of the young guns as he admitted there was a “gulf” between their academy products and those at their bitter west London rivals.
“We said in the changing room afterwards that everybody, every player, every substitute, every member of staff has got to reflect very deeply about what happened tonight and that there’s two ways to react to this – one is not to learn from it and an experience like this ends up defeating us, or does it stimulate us to realise that there was a gulf tonight and we must now go about our work as staff and players to try to improve?” said McDermott to the official Tottenham website.
“All credit to Chelsea, they were excellent in every department, their players deserve a lot of credit and over the two legs we can’t hide from the score. There is a gulf, but life must go on and on Monday or Tuesday we’ll get back into training, reflect and move on.
“I still believe that some of our players have got potential but there’s more work than perhaps we thought to try to achieve the standards that we need to achieve.”
One of the few bright spots over the two legs was striker Kazaiah Sterling, 18, who lifted his tally to five goals in six FA Youth Cup matches this season to provide further evidence of the talent that has prompted first-team manager Mauricio Pochettino to identify him as one for the future.
“Man for man the Chelsea players were more effective than ours,” added McDermott to the Spurs site. “We’ve got to withstand the criticism that will come, withstand the embarrassment that we all feel, but that’s part of professional sport. We’ve now got to react positively to it.”
Tottenham’s senior side showed the youngsters how it is done when they beat Southampton 2-1 in the Premier League at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
Goals from Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli (penalty) enabled Pochettino’s side to solidify their place at second in the table, although they remain a distant 10 points adrift of leaders Chelsea.
In other Tottenham news, a forward has signed after Spurs agreed terms on an out-of-window deal.