This is a big season for so many players as the World Cup looms and that’s certainly a factor with Spurs and Chelsea as we could be looking at the spine of England’s ambitions today.
Both clubs have made a conscious effort to bring in English players with Spurs doing their buying well via a route of seeking young domestic potential and bringing in the kind of emerging talent that can go on to be a real force in the game.
By operating on the dual tack of buying for now and for the future, they can bring in youngsters who can take their time to become established and to understand what is expected of them at Tottenham. Yet Spurs have done so well in their talent spotting that the young players are coming through quicker than expected and that has to be encouraging for the future at White Hart Lane.
With their money Chelsea can bring in more established players as the presence of Frank Lampard, John Terry, Joe Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips should illustrate this afternoon. They also have Wayne Bridge and Glen Johnson. But Spurs shop carefully and effectively with the likes of Paul Robinson, Jermain Defoe and Michael Carrick all in last week’s England squad and Ledley King injured for that one but always in contention.
It’s worked out well for Spurs who also had four players with the England Under-21s - and Defoe is the perfect illustration. True he wasn’t cheap but he’s young and that makes him a bargain because the quality that is already there will be enhanced by experience.
Defoe would terrorise any defence and whenever I’ve seen him interviewed he looks a boy with great ambition and a burning desire just to go out there and score goals.
So it’s blossoming at Spurs and many observers predict good things at the Lane. Over at Chelsea it will be very interesting to see what happens because the competition for places is not just massive, it’s frightening ! Indeed for the likes of Cole and Wright-Phillips it may be easier for them to get a game with England !
It’s all good news for the national side because with that strength at just two of the clubs it has to increase the competition throughout the Premiership just to make Sven Goran Eriksson’s squad and so players have to work harder to edge their way in front.
I’m optimistic about England’s chances. And I don’t think that facing Wales and Northern Ireland in Group Six will make qualification harder as has been suggested.
They will always be difficult opposition, competitive and focussed, while they won’t lack motivation or national pride. But England will be too strong for them. I don’t mean any disrespect with that prediction, that’s simply a professional view.
On that subject, I have no doubt that the Home Internationals should be brought back. For me there was never anything quite like those England-Scotland games, in particular, and I’ve got great memories of the wind-ups and stick flying around at Tottenham with the likes of Dave Mackay and Jimmy Robertson.
Smashing days and lovely camaraderie.