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David Pleat's programme notes v Fulham

Posted on 25 February 2003  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Fulham's fine win against West Brom last Wednesday evening should put them in good heart for the second of their three away fixtures within seven days. After tonight they have to replay at Burnley in the FA Cup to have a very real chance of a semi-final place if they can beat Watford.

They are a team full of French flair who have found the move to new surroundings at Loftus Road difficult to come to terms with.

Within the last five years they have played in an attractive and winning style and it says much for the ambition and drive of their chairman. However, there will be no sentiment this evening and we must try to ensure that we go to West Ham on Saturday with hopefully another three points in our locker.

Our current forward problems will give opportunity to players who may not have expected the chance a few weeks ago. Up front tonight, the likely combination will be Gary Doherty and Teddy Sheringham who performed well together once we got our smooth passing going against Sunderland. We congratulate Teddy on his 300th club goal, a most difficult and therefore wonderful achievement with the quality of defenders in the Premiership.

His experience can help Gary who, since his headed goal in the same game, notched another full Irish cap in a very successful game against Scotland, a match will also marked a fine debut for Chris Hughton as Brian Kerr's assistant and a super return for Stephen Carr. Unfortunately Neil Sullivan, in goal for Scotland in the first half, was beaten twice.

In the intervening period since our last game, our injury situation has been improving. Jamie Redknapp is back in training and we are delighted also to see Christian Ziege back after his serious leg injury. Younger players Anthony Gardner, who was forced off with a hamstring injury at Chelsea, is still working to get fit and Jonathan Blondel, who damaged his shoulder in a reserve game, is also back training.

Obviously, the injury suffered in the Sunderland game by Robbie Keane is a blow but our absence from the cup means that after next Saturday's game against West Ham there is a two-week break until we play Liverpool so in terms of a league challenge, this is to our advantage.

Last weekend we came to the aid of Woking when we allowed them to loan Rob Burch, one of young professional goalkeepers who had made a good impression for England Under 20s against Germany at Reading a few nights previously. He replaced our other goalkeeper on loan to Woking, Shwan Jalal, who had a hamstring injury. We are wondering who to loan Woking next!

Finally, congratulations to Ledley King, who played in the second half of the farcical England encounter against Australia. I have for many years suggested that the only sensible way for an international manager to bring his squad together is to play practice games against club sides behind closed doors at training grounds once every six weeks for a two-day period.

This way a regular pattern would develop where the manager/coaching staff would be able to coach and analyse privately and not be threatened by the hype surrounding the 'result' and be able to have a more relaxed get together. I believe the club managers would relate better to this type of arrangement. I'm sure the FA has got plenty on its plate, not least financing Wembley suitably and appointing a new executive and Director of Football.

Enjoy the game this evening and get behind the players. They have appreciated your tremendous support and hopefully tonight, with the game being beamed to a wider audience through the technical wizardry of Sky, we can gain some more national support for what we are trying to achieve.