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David Pleat's programme notes v Liverpool

Posted on 17 March 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).

We welcome Gerard Houllier, his staff, directors, playing squad and supporters to White Hart Lane.

The success of Liverpool in winning the Worthington Cup and reaching the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup, with their game at Celtic played on Thursday, has meant a delay of 24 hours for this game.

Our visitors are fully entitled to request and be granted this delay but our supporters obviously will be disappointed that another game has been played on a Sunday. It seems the Saturday tradition has gone forever.

I, like many people, thought that Manchester United would shade the League Cup but Liverpool's terrific team performance deservedly won through. They were fortunate to be able to call on a full strength side and we all know how important that is, even for the top Premier League sides with their large squads.

We have all seen this week how football is a fickle friend. One minute you are everyone's favourite and the next you are down in the dumps. Nothing could have illustrated this point more vividly than the sacking of Howard Wilkinson at Sunderland - just 20 games into 'a new era' at the club, according to their chairman only weeks ago.

When decisions like these are made, and they expect the new incumbent to be some kind of Messiah, it proves just how silly football can be. If an individual was the right man for the job in the eyes of the Board just 20 weeks ago then he is still the right man 20 weeks later.

A manager inherits, in the first year of any agreement, the players from the previous regime and has to make the best of them. It takes him a while to manoeuvre players out of the club and to bring players in and it gets even harder with the current financial constraints.

I wish Howard and Steve Cotterill well because it seems to me that they were seduced into a seemingly impossible situation.

No game last weekend meant a chance for our staff to go out and about watching possible targets for next season. We are actively discussing a couple of possibilities to strengthen our squad.
It has been well documented by Steffen Freund, who has been a sturdy and popular player here, that Glenn had discussions with him so that he could look at his options as early as possible regarding the end of the season.

You may read various articles in the press from either players directly, players agents trying to push clubs into early decisions or, indeed, supporters having their respective views aired. We are a responsible club and will digest all the relevant requests from the management and make offers accordingly.

The secret of doing well over the next few years will be for us to be in a strong position to begin that process. Clubs, who find themselves with a massive financial deficit now, will find difficulty - unless they have been successful in winning competitions - to get back on an even keel.

We have made decisions on several younger players regarding the end of the season and three or four boys were told very early that they would be released and have since moved away to other clubs. I am also discussing new contracts at the moment for younger players who, although Academy age, have been playing regular Reserve football this season, the likes of Stephen Kelly, Dean Marney and Lee Barnard.

Colchester have given John Jackson the opportunity of a second loan, having spent three months at Swindon earlier this season and this can only be of benefit to him. Fellow left-sided midfield player Jonathan Blondel is now back to fitness after his shoulder injury and we are all looking forward to him making a challenge for a first team place.

On Monday evening our Reserves got back to winning ways with a comfortable 2-0 win over Chelsea. But the big disappointment of last week was the failure of our FA Youth Cup side in the sixth round at Middlesbrough, losing by the only goal. Although initially we did not think the group was strong enough to emulate last season's semi-final run, as the competition progressed several of the youngest players made their mark and are eligible next season.

The likes of Phil Ifil and Jamie O'Hara, who are still schoolboys, will have benefited massively from this season's experience and I will expect an even better performance next season.

As you may be aware the club's proposed new Football Academy at Abridge was refused planning permission by Epping Forest District Council. While not unexpected, we are deeply disappointed by the outcome. We remain committed to developing a new Football Academy, a vital component for the club's future progress and are now taking some time out to decide how best to proceed from here, including a possible appeal.

The meeting which Paul Kemsley, our director, and myself, attended with the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust was conducted in an orderly fashion. The Club intends to continue a dialogue with supporters on this basis, providing the meetings invoke constructive criticism or comment.

The recent disappointments at home to Fulham and at West Ham will serve as a strong message that we need a solid performance to prepare us for the next few games, which will determine whether we are going to get a chance of a crack at the UEFA Cup next season.

A good win today could set us up for a very strong finish. Get behind the team, they appreciate your support and react accordingly.