I thought they would be ahead of us on fitness and it panned out that way. I felt it was a good team performance in the game but there was also a lot of stuff that we need to work on.
Going up to Everton having not got the home win and then losing Les and Sergei straight away was a little bit of an imbalance for us, and Everton was a tough game.
They were a bit direct and we had to play a different type of game to counter that, so I was very pleased with the team performance. I felt if we had kept it 11 against 11 at 1-0 up, we would have won the game.
But in the end, with the two players sent off, it was fantastic character that got us the point we deserved. The club has had a little bit of a soft centre in the last few years away from home sometimes, but the Everton game proved that we have the capability there to go away and be strong and show that character.
I thought Darren played extremely well for somebody that has recently come back from a long lay-off. That was his first 90 minutes for something like five months but he scored the goal and played his part in the nine-man side. I hope that game might be a turning point for Darren. He still has a bit of pain but we are trying to manage that to get him playing regularly.
The disappointment in going from the Everton game to losing at Blackburn wasn’t because we passed the ball badly or that we didn’t look like scoring. I felt we looked capable of scoring all through the game and knocked it about well. The problem was that the character showed against Everton wasn’t there at Blackburn and that is annoying and very disturbing for me.
The frustrating part then was that a lot of the players went away after that game to play international football, so we’ve had no chance to work on that area and couldn’t work on it until Friday when everyone was back.
The Blackburn result was disappointing because if we’d put our defensive heads on as we did against Everton and played like we did with the ball we might have got something out of it. But it’s going to take time.
On a separate issue, the Gus Poyet and Gary Doherty sending offs against Everton for me were wrong decisions. Gus’s red card should only have been a yellow and although the referee has reversed his red card for Gary, we were punished with the penalty which cost us the points. To be fair, the referee has been big enough to change his decision, but it didn’t help at the time and that is difficult to take.
We put in an appeal for Gus but it fell on deaf ears and that hurts us badly now because we’re into injury problems as well as suspensions, and in the long run that is perhaps worse than losing the two points on the night
Coming into today’s game, it’s still early days but I’ve seen enough things in pre-season and in the first three games to suggest we can get this thing going here. Teams play off confidence and wins give you that confidence, so the main thing this week has been to focus the international players back on the task of getting the three points and our first win under our belt.
My main concern is that we’ve got eight players injured, including the long-term absentees. As we went to print, Steffen Iversen has come back with an ankle injury and we are waiting on scan results to determine whether he’s cracked a bone. Also, Tim Sherwood pulled a thigh muscle playing for the reserves against Arsenal on Monday, Goran Bunjevcevic still has ligament problems on his ankle, Teddy Sheringham has an ankle injury as well — he hasn’t trained all week and is a doubt — and Stephen Carr and Stephen Clemence are both out long term.
We have been waiting to see if Darren’s Achilles is okay because he’s been back to America for more treatment and Gus is suspended, so really it’s been a very disjointed week for us. If all these players don’t come through, we’re in a bit of a crisis.
It is a big game for us against Southampton. I’d like to take this opportunity to say that I had a great year at Southampton, but there have been things said that I’m not happy about since leaving. The facts are that firstly, they gave me permission to speak to Spurs, a club that I’d loved since I was eight years old, they were compensated for me and John Gorman and I left them in seventh position, five points off a Champions League spot.
So there are three major factors why I don’t feel any guilt having left them. However, I made many new friends there and I’ve got the highest respect — and I mean that — for the players I worked with down there.
They were an excellent bunch of guys, first class. They improved no end while I was there and I felt there was no limit to what they could go and achieve. I really felt close to a lot of the players. But everything moves on in football and as I said Tottenham is a club I’ve loved and adored for a very long time. If it had been any other club, I don’t think I’d have moved and that shows how strongly I felt about Southampton.
I’d like to take this chance to congratulate Stuart Gray and Denis Rofe on stepping into the shoes of John and myself. I knew how much Stuart wanted to test himself as a manager one day and I’m very pleased that he and Dennis got the job.
It was always a pleasure to work with both of them and we worked well together. Apart from today’s game and the return fixture, I sincerely hope they do a great job and I’m looking forward to having a beer with them after the match this afternoon.
The most important thing on my mind now though is that we need to win today’s match. It will be a tough game, I know the Southampton players inside out and know what character they have. If we’d have had everyone 100 per cent fit, it would be a difficult game, so with our problems it will be extremely tough.
It’s been a fantastic week for Sven Goran Eriksson and England. They have one more hurdle to go before they qualify for the World Cup but they’re looking really confident. I was at the Holland game here and felt it was probably a good thing they got beaten that night as it allowed them to take a view of their performance and realise that everything isn’t always as rosy as it seems.
It certainly worked in their favour with a wonderful performance against Germany. The win against Albania on Wednesday was what I would call an economical performance and the win was what was needed. I would settle for an economical performance from us today if it results in three points.
We go into today’s game still looking for our first win. I thought we had done enough in the first half in our opener here against Aston Villa to have won the match although they finished strongly, mainly due to the extra fitness built up in their InterToto Cup games.