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Glenn Hoddle's programme notes v Birmingham City

Posted on 7 April 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).

There's been a lot written in certain newspapers over the past couple of weeks which I want to address here because so much of it has been total fabrication.

We are well aware that we have had a poor run and that's the reason there has been a focus on us. I don't mind criticism when it's just because you can learn from that but some of the articles have been sheer fiction.

It's frustrating but it's something that we will overcome because we are all pulling together and will continue to do so to get out of this little dip that we've suffered. Our priority is to restore some pride by winning today and then building on that by putting together a positive sequence of results. That's what we need to do now and everybody is focused on that.

There's no doubt that we should be in a better League position than we find ourselves in at present but that's not to say that we can't put in a strong finish. It's up to us to produce a sustained assault - and that starts today. A win will give us momentum and then it's in our own hands. That's our challenge.

When I arrived here it was clear that there was not going to be a quick solution to what has been a bit of a hangover in recent years. It was always going to take some time to gain consistency and I feel that can be achieved only when we have a squad that is well and truly 100 per cent fit. In the two years that we've had, 85 per cent of both seasons has seen us with six or seven players injured as an average at any one time and that's far too high when you want consistency.

Unless we do something about it and get our players back quicker and in general more injury free we'll be sitting here this time next year in the same boat, as many Spurs managers in recent years have been. This is something that has plagued the club over the last eight or nine years and it frustrates me because I love this club and I am determined to get it right.

We will be a success - but only when we have the full potential of our squad together. I have never been able to play my first choice 11 yet and not having that option is a major frustration.

But, in saying that, we have a depth to our squad which, at times, has been a credit to the players and all concerned, when we have managed to go on runs, get results and play as well as we have done in certain periods of the season. And, if we finish the campaign strongly, then we still have a chance of getting into Europe. If teams falter and we get into that winning streak then it will be there for us.

So that is what is still focused on everybody's minds at the club. We know we have let ourselves down but, in saying that, we were beaten at Bolton in the very last second and against Liverpool handed the game back to them from being in a dominant position. So it hasn't been catastrophic in the way that we've performed but we've now got to get back to winning football matches.

The injury list is still there. We currently have eight senior players out and, ironically, young Jamie Slabber and Dean Marney have been injured in the Reserves this week! On a brighter note Anthony Gardner has played in the Reserves, Dean Richards is not far away, Steffen Iversen and Steffen Freund are getting closer but the longer term ones - Jamie Redknapp, Christian Ziege, Ben Thatcher - are still a little bit further away and Milo has a shoulder problem which will be touch and go as to when he'll be available.

So we're still in the position of missing key players but, as I say, we've got to do better in this area next season. We have no choice. From now on, there must be improvement and we're working to achieve that.

If we don't get this right then it doesn't matter who we bring in during the summer to strengthen the squad, if we're still left with seven or eight players injured then we can never achieve what I know this club can achieve. Getting that right is my priority.

Now we welcome Steve Bruce and his staff. Birmingham have acquitted themselves very well in the Premiership, they really are a hard working side as they proved when they battled against us at St Andrews in the 1-1 draw. We know today will be no different.

In particular we welcome Stephen Clemence back. It was a difficult decision to let him go because I felt that, in the long term, he might have had a really good input at the club but he was at the end of his contract which these days has a new relevance and Steve made it clear that he wanted more regular football which, at that time, wasn't going to happen. To be fair, Steve had been hindered by injury in our time here together and I could never really see the best of him, which was frustrating for both of us. He's a great pro, a smashing lad and I wish him all the best at Birmingham where he is doing very well.

Hearing of the death of Robbie Keane's father was very sad news. After losing my Dad last year - although poor Robbie's a lot younger than I was - I know how he feels. Our thoughts are with him and his family. Playing a game of football can help ease the heart and mind and can be the first part of a grieving process that he must go through but I will also be telling him that he needs to take time out for himself when it is right because I can talk from experience on that one. Such sad situations put so much in perspective.

In closing, get behind the team as you've been doing so well all season and let's go for this together.