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David Pleat's programme notes v Southampton

Posted on 1 September 2002  - 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).

Southampton, our guests today, will once again provide stern opposition. Gordon Strachan is one of the most enthusiastic managers in the business and probably covers more miles in his search for talent than any other manager.

I am not a statistician but I’m sure someone will remind our supporters of when we last won two consecutive Premier League games by a goal to nothing. Managers and players take great satisfaction in having clean sheets. Generally speaking, it shows a good spirit and a resilience that is necessary over a long season.

Because of injuries, Glenn Hoddle has had to improvise with his team selection and there have been major plusses. Christian Ziege, nominally a wing-back, has returned from injury and been forced to change his attacking mentality to play as a left-back in a back four. Of course, he is still taking those wicked corners from our right and causing heaps of trouble for opposition defences.

Dean Richards and Anthony Gardner are both commanding six foot plus central defenders and have done a fine job in our last two games as we have continued without Ledley King’s availability. Fortunately Ledley is on his way back but one ray of sunshine is usually countered by other disappointments, Neil Sullivan has a broken thumb and Stephen Carr was unlucky at Everton.

The fine result at Charlton on Tuesday night gives us much hope and, of course, behind the scenes we have been desperately trying to complete a couple of attacking signings to add competition.

Sadly during the last international week while Steffen Iversen was away with Norway, his brother Mats was involved in a bad crash and Steffen stayed in Norway as a comfort factor while his brother slowly recovered. We send our best wishes to his brother and his family and hope that all will be well.

My particular pleasure coming away from The Valley was the fact that four of our young signed players played together for the first time in a Premiership starting line-up since their introduction to the club.

When I returned to Tottenham one of my briefs that attracted me to the role was an undefined "pot" of money that gave me the option to scour the lower leagues for young talent for the future which would help secure our player base.

Simon Davies made his 50th appearance on Tuesday night — how time flies! His pal Matthew Etherington, who has the potential to run the ball at defenders like Ryan Giggs has perfected, had held the wide left spot for the first three games of the season.

Anthony Gardner showed the watching Sven Goran Eriksson at Charlton his quiet but calmly authorative potential. With Ledley waiting in the wings and a clutch of good centre-halves underneath we are well blessed in this area.

Gary Doherty has also shown in the last week that he is getting over his nasty injury. He is a two-in-one player and still confuses the coaches and watching "experts" who cannot decide where he will prove to be most effective.

Of course not all the young signings, to supplement senior experience both brought in and nurtured from within, can be successful. But we are fortunate that the likes of Jamie Redknapp, Teddy Sheringham, Les Ferdinand and Steffen Freund all have leadership qualities to encourage these youngsters.

Three other youngsters have been bought in this period as a clear club policy. Steven Ferguson from East Fife, has not had a consistent run after a promising start but is a pacy forward who needs to get back into the goal charts. We secured him for £100,000 and have just loaned him back to Scotland where, last Saturday, he went on as substitute for Motherwell for the last 10 minutes at Dundee United.

However not all players brought in as part of this scheme can be successful. Dave McEwen, a late starter bought from Dulwich Hamlet, couldn’t quite bridge the gap but we will continue with this policy. Our latest recruit, of course, is Jonathan Blondel from Mouscron who is 5’7". I will obviously be delighted if he succeeds because there is no greater pleasure in football than seeing young players come through and achieve.

The main reason for the game’s financial struggle at the moment centres on the mediocre mercenaries from abroad who make managers take their eye off the ball and ignore up-and-coming talent in the lower leagues in this country. We are ready as a club to continue our own policy.

Last weekend I had an invitation to attend the Italian Super Cup which was played in Tripoli. I did not accept as I wanted to watch a couple of young players but Eddie Presland, now looking after our scouting department, took advantage of the invitation with representatives from several Premiership clubs. He watched the game in the 44 degrees heat with well over 90,000 locals. Parma beat Juventus 2-1 as Libya pressed their claims as potential World Cup hosts.

Our sportsman’s night is now virtually sold out. Several of our great players from the past will be present and the evening is sure to be the forerunner of many attractive similar events at the Lane. It is an initiative that Tottenham have not been involved in over the years while most clubs stage these popular evenings.

Last Wednesday, Club Secretary John Alexander and I attended an appeals committee at the immigration department that deals with permits for foreign footballers. We always knew that to get Qu Bo a permit was going to be difficult in view of the fact that there are new controls. In keeping with several recent decisions they decided that for the moment they were not prepared to let us utilise his abilities.
Naturally we are disappointed and we shall monitor the situation closely as time goes by. Qu Bo is only 21, he made a real impression here and with his likable personality I am sure he would have settled well. We have to abide by the decision and it is pointless complaining about many inferior players playing in this country who appear to have come in by some obscure routes.

After our manager Glenn Hoddle and his assistant John Gorman arrived followed by the signing of Dean Richards there were some silly words expressed in print from the Southampton chairman. I have since spoken to him on several occasions and I can assure all supporters that the relationship is back to square one and the propaganda war has been concluded. But, of course, at these awkward times all clubs have to state their case and inform their supporters from their own personal viewpoint.

Enjoy the game and let us hope that we can stay riding high.