The importance of the win at Villa should not be underestimated. Away wins are never easy and clean sheets are vitally important. Our boys dug in well and were rewarded for their patience with Teddy's timely goal.
Our friends from the North East tonight also accepted the benefits of a clean sheet when they beat Bolton 1-0 in their last game. All managers understand, explain and convince players of how important it is to keep the 'goals against' column blank, it brings confidence and gives the players a foundation to have the heart to win games. There is nothing more demoralising than to be playing in a team that loses goals cheaply.
Consider Liverpool's win at Southampton last week after their poor spell. The first thing that everyone talked about, in spite of a very good team performance going forwards, was the fact that they had not conceded. Goals change games and sometimes a team can be very much the equal of their opponents both technically and territorially but if they are to lose a goal at a vital time it can change the whole pattern of the game. Let's hope that we can keep it tight for the next few games.
Newcastle, like ourselves, have little interference now as they move up the league to once again challenge for a Champion's League spot. They have no domestic cup games to distract their thoughts. Although disappointed to exit both cups we now have fair opportunity for players to recover from injury and to maximise rest periods between important league games.
The next month will be vital and it is to the manager and the players' credit that we are back on track.
The transfer window predictably saw little business. Clubs have realised their wild overspending has come to a halt and we now have to gain some stability in our business. With the uncertainty about the new television deal most of the major clubs in the country did not get involved in any transfer business.
Obviously we ourselves have lost two players as I write these notes. Stephen Clemence was a super club man who came through our youth scheme and always gave his best. He was, of course, the second member of the Clemence family to have worn Tottenham colours with success. We hope he has a super career at Birmingham City. His contract was expiring at the end of this season and it was a sensible deal in the circumstances.
Likewise it is sad to see Les Ferdinand leave. Whether Les was playing or not he always had a smile on his face and was one of the most decent people in football and thoroughly deserved all the success that he has achieved in the game. It is to be hoped that our neighbours West Ham escape their present predicament and that Les can continue to play for as long as possible. We wish him well.
On the debit front Tim Sherwood and Sergei Rebrov have yet to conclude their transfers. Regardless of what may have been written in the press, I can assure all our supporters that the reason neither deal has gone through successfully is purely to do with players' agents complicating a straightforward transfer situation or the interested club misleading. We have seen many examples in the last few weeks of this transfer window becoming a predictably messy business where representatives of players realise that, with fewer opportunities, this was one time to try to make a "killing". They are doing the game a disservice and making it more difficult in the future for clubs to run their business properly.
We are already thinking about next season and our intake of youngsters. One or two of our schoolboy players have already appeared in our FA Youth Cup team. We will play the winners of this week's Crystal Palace-Notts County tie in the next round of the competition. Although we have a young side it is quite possible, with the way the draw has fallen, that we might be able to achieve a run similar to last season when we hit the semi-finals.
Sad to say one of our youngsters has had quite a serious injury. Paul O'Donoghue has taken a nasty whack in his knee and has had an operation to repair cartilage damage. Fortunately for Paul his contract runs beyond next season so he doesn't have any long-term fears. He will be well looked after, we have a good medical team and we hope to see him back in a Tottenham shirt as soon as possible.
Tonight's game will be played in front of another full house so let's get behind the team and hope that we can get the three points that will put us in an exciting position.
Enjoy the game.