We all know how football can ‘kick you in the teeth’ just when you feel things have turned the corner and advances are being made.
Witness last year the tremendous delight of everyone after our emphatic and superb 5-1 win here in the Worthington Cup, only to be on the receiving end weeks later when we lost four nil in league and cup. It is always wise, as far as possible, to take defeat and victory in one’s stride.
However, there are definite signs of cautious optimism as we continue our improvement this season. At Anfield we more than held our own with Liverpool who are currently unbeaten and head the league. They did not look like potential title winners as, on the day, we had controlled possession. Apart from the threat of Owen, well marshalled by Chris Perry and Dean Richards, we quietened the crowd adequately for long periods. What looked like a deserved equaliser was cancelled out by a crucial penalty; Manchester United repeated.
At Reserve level we played Chelsea at Stevenage last Monday where a big crowd saw a quick passing game of football on a super pitch. It was particularly pleasing for us that such a young side — only Darren Anderton was over 24 — played so well. We were all heartened by the sight of our two centre-backs, Ledley King and Anthony Gardner, after various injury problems, playing again so effectively together in defence.
It was also good to see the return of Alton Thelwell again. Alton has been most unlucky, like Ledley he had not played since last season. All the players had solid games and were well complimented by a host of scouts and an appreciative crowd. In our side, young players from last year’s youth team, Dean Marney and Lee Barnard, showed that they are benefiting from the training they are doing at a higher grade.
The Premier League will meet on Thursday and will have various topics of debate, not least one or two vital decisions to be made on Academy football. At the moment the FA looks like a rudderless ship with Mr Crozier’s authority been challenged and without Howard Wilkinson, as FA Academy Director, it appears we are seeking some strong leadership.
It is important that someone who controls the massive organisation of the FA has had a grounding in the nuts and bolts of football administration, as well as being more than adequate with the other facets which have to be brought into play to control the runaway egos and self interest.
We had our usual good turn out at the AGM and there was much interest and sense from the floor. We know that we have responsibilities and our only aim is not only to establish Tottenham as a top six club but eventually to go on from there and to gain European recognition each year. Until we achieve that position we are not succeeding in our aims. In having a squad that at this moment includes many internationals, both experienced and young, and a budget that equates to a top six club, we as a Board feel that we are moving sensibly towards this target.
If one considers the club’s position three years ago in terms of playing quality then there is no question that we have advanced considerably.
In recent weeks the plight of many league clubs has deepened. I recall vividly my very first chairman in football telling me in our first meeting that ‘anyone can spend someone else’s money.’ We as a Board have to go about our dealings in a measured way. We know about the traditions and aspirations of our club and, for sure, we want to achieve. But we will never engage in irresponsible spending. The state of clubs relegated from the Premiership in recent years makes ever more likely the need for Premiership clubs to involve themselves with lower league clubs not just to assist them financially but with player loans and expertise.
On Wednesday we play our second game in the League Cup which will also be shown on Sky television. Fortunately we always travel in the knowledge that we are not alone and that our faithful away fans do a fantastic job in supporting the team. The boys always know that they will run out to a warm welcome, no matter how far we travel on any wet and windy, or cold and dark November night. Let us hope that at Burnley your support is rewarded with advancement in the competition.
Enjoy today’s game.
This afternoon’s game with Chelsea gives both sides an opportunity to advance, to compare current form and revive predictions as we both stand on 19 points.