Welcome also to Alan Curbishley and to all from Charlton. They are a hard-working team and a credit to their manager. You cannot underestimate Alan’s very capable squad and that very fact means that we are in for a real battle today.
Alan and I go back to the Essex Under-15s team and our England Youth days, so we know each other well. One other connection is John Gorman who has a very good relationship with Alan’s trustworthy lieutenant Keith Peacock.
Unfortunately, our printing deadlines preclude any reference to our pre-Christmas game at Manchester City. But we’ll approach today in confident mood following our excellent performance against Arsenal in our last game here.
When we lost at Highbury in November many people pointed to a supposed gulf in ability between the two sides. I do not underestimate Arsenal’s potency but we suffered on the day when we were reduced to 10 men and never really got into our stride.
But we did a great job on Arsenal this time around! Anyone watching that game, and not aware of the respective league positions of both clubs, would have been surprised at the reality of the situation.
It just shows how you can never make any presumptions in football because each day brings a whole new situation.
What we proved here is that we are not that far behind the top clubs — but what we do lack is consistency. However, we have now set ourselves a standard that we must match in every game because we have shown the level that we can achieve on our day.
It was as good a North London derby as I have seen for a while and so far removed from events at Highbury. We battered Arsenal throughout to restore our pride and but for goal line clearances and a series of fine saves by David Seaman we would have won well.
Now we have to build on that performance against a Charlton side that will demand that we battle just as hard. We will take confidence from the fact that we beat them at The Valley in August but it was tough to come away with that victory and will be so again.
As ever, they were a difficult side to play against and we had to defend well with Kasey Keller making some important saves to keep us in it. We learned a lot from losing to them twice last season and we now need to repeat the commitment shown that night as we bid to do the 'double' over them.
The news that Jamie Redknapp has suffered a slight break in his foot was hugely disappointing all round. Jamie has worked so hard on his fitness that the diagnosis was a real blow but the good news, if there is any, is that this has nothing to do with his previous fitness problems.
True it’s a major setback and the timing is so cruel after his supreme effort. But Jamie’s a fighter and his determination will see him back in the first team once again before too long. However, I can imagine what his New Year wish will be!
In closing, let’s hope that 2003 brings what we all crave — success for Tottenham Hotspur!
Once again your support all year has been terrific and the atmosphere created here against Arsenal was something special. All the players appreciate your efforts so please never underestimate the difference that your support can make.
Welcome back to you all after what I hope was an enjoyable Christmas and best wishes to all supporters for the New Year.