Tottenham interim boss Ryan Mason admits he has gone to bed dreaming of managing his boyhood club.
The 29-year-old was thrust into the head coach’s position after Jose Mourinho’s surprise sacking on Monday, becoming the youngest ever boss in Premier League history.
And less than a week later he will lead the club that he joined as an eight-year-old out at Wembley in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester City, completing an emotional journey for him.
He was forced to turn to coaching after a sickening head injury forced his retirement when he was just 26 and he was given the chance in Spurs’ academy.
Mason admits the role came long before he expected it to, but that he feels comfortable in the position.
“Once you stop being a footballer and start becoming a coach your mind becomes engrossed on what it is to be a coach,” he said.
“I’d be lying if my head didn’t hit the pillow in the last two or three years and I managed to not imagine myself being in this position, so it feels normal.
“It feels absolutely fine. I’ve got great people around me. The football club has been excellent.”
While sleep might have been an option for Mason before taking over from Mourinho, it has been in short supply during a whirlwind week where he was appointed and took charge of his first game against the backdrop of fans’ protests at the club’s involvement in the failed European Super League plan.
“I’ll be honest, the first three days I didn’t sleep at all. I want this to go well for the football club,” he said. “They’ve given me this responsibly to sit here and lead a team and a group of players for this football club.
“It’s a huge deal and I want to give it my all. On Thursday night I had a good night’s sleep.
“I fell asleep in my son’s bed at half seven and I woke up at 5.30am in the morning.
“I haven’t had that amount of sleep in the last three days. I’ve probably been surviving off two or three hours, so to get that was great. The body obviously needed it. I feel energised again and I feel good, I feel good.”
The fitness concern of Harry Kane has probably added to Mason’s sleepless nights.
Kane is a major doubt for the showpiece against City at Wembley with an ankle injury, with the England captain yet to join in team training.
Mason says Kane knows his body better than anyone and that if he is fit, he will have no hesitation in starting him.
“Harry’s the player, Harry’s the man with that feeling,” Mason said. “He knows his body better than me, he knows his body better than anyone else in the world. At the moment he’s not on the football pitch.
“But listen, if Harry’s fit I think it’s pretty clear and obvious – he plays in Tottenham’s team. He plays in any team in the world.
“He’s the best number nine in the world in my eyes so if Harry’s fit and he feels like he is fit then of course he’ll play. But at this moment we don’t know if he will be fit.
“We’ll be a lot clearer in the morning, we’ll be a lot clearer tomorrow. But I can’t answer the question in terms of will he play or will he not.”
Spurs have been the nearly men in recent years as they look to end a 13-year trophy drought against City, having lost the League Cup final in 2009 and 2015 and the Champions League final in 2019.
“Listen, every club wants to win trophies,” he said. “It’s very difficult in this country. It’s probably the most difficult country in the world to win trophies in.
“We’ve seen that. We’ve been close over the last few years but unfortunately we haven’t been able to get over the line.
“We really want to get over the line, that’s for sure. But there’s a feeling that this whole club, the structure, the DNA, how we want this club to go, that’s very important as well.
“But trophies are usually the end goal of the foundations that have been laid before that.”