George is a staunch believer that the nucleus of any successful team should come from within, youth products who have grown up with the club — a fact often reflected by committed performances on the pitch.
“I’ve always said that in an ideal world, I’d like a quarter, third or even half of a good side to be domestic. I think there’s affection for the club, Manchester United have got it, Arsenal had it, Leeds at the present time have got it. And then you sprinkle that with good form players.
“I like the basis of the team to be domestic. There is an affection and you could see the team spirit out there (versus Liverpool), it has been very good this season considering the political carry on that’s been going on. I don’t worry about the political side at all, it really doesn’t bother me. As long as I know I’m doing my job with the players at the training ground, that’s the important thing.”
George has occasionally been accused of holding back young players, preferring the experience option of a pragmatic pro. Following his departure from Leeds, successor David O’Leary gradually introduced a crop of highly promising youngsters with great success.
“That’s strictly not true about the Leeds situation. When I was there, they were probably about a year away. Harry Kewell was in the team, but the rest of them were always going to come through. I was just not there to see the fruition of them.
“They would have been in the team, I don’t have any problem with it, I don’t know why people say this. If you just look at the Arsenal team, Tony Adams was captain at 21, David Rocastle, Paul Davis, Kevin Campbell, Paul Merson — they were all in the Arsenal team at 19 or 20 years of age, winning championships. I don’t know where this story about me not playing young players comes from.”
George went on to explain why Spurs’ youth policy has not been exactly prolific over the past decade and is happy to admit that, given time, the cream of the club’s current youth set-up will rise to the top.
“The trouble with Spurs is there is a lot of work going on in the background which nobody realises. When the club was going through some financial difficulties, they couldn’t really spend, or have the manpower, to work both scouting for the professionals and the youth policy. So the youth policy suffered.
“The conveyor belt bringing the youngsters through actually stopped. When I came here, there was only Ledley King, who’s been injured for the majority of the time. At the present time we’ve done very well, the under-17s are outstanding, the under-19s are not bad. The under-17s really are superb though.
“There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes and I’ve been a great believer in this at every club I’ve been with, and I won’t take the credit for this because it is the people who work with the kids.
“Millwall’s always had a good youth policy, Arsenal and Leeds have, and I would like the same thing to happen at Tottenham.”
To listen to George's press conference in full, click here
By Richard Hubbard
George Graham has revealed his vision for the long-term future and prosperity of the club — and much of it is on view every other Saturday morning at Spurs Lodge.