For our own part we have to be pleased with our start to the season. True, we are just out of the stalls in what is a long race and positions now are no guide to how it will all finish. But it is obviously encouraging to be unbeaten at this stage and that in itself brings confidence.
In fact, we could have had a 100 per cent record because we should have won at Everton on the opening day before we allowed them to pull it back to 2-2. Our game here with Aston Villa could really have gone either way as we came under some pressure but the encouraging sign there was that, in the past, that was the type of game that we probably would have lost in similar circumstances.
This time we dug in and refused to be defeated with some dogged defending as a team and a clever goal from Jamie Redknapp to see us through. I said afterwards that Jamie is showing the kind of form that could well win him an England recall because signing him on a free has been a real ‘steal.’
In fact, with his track record Jamie deserves some luck injury wise along the way and I have the feeling this could be a big season for him. Our supporters have certainly taken to him from the off and I can understand that because he is very much a ‘traditional’ Spurs player who, on his day, is as good as any midfielder in this country.
Victory at Charlton in midweek was a major lift because they are always a difficult team to play against. It was a good game in which we had to defend well and Kasey Keller again made some important saves to keep us in it. We lost both league games to Charlton last season but this time demonstrated that we had used that knowledge well.
It was good to see Simon Davies score our goal after neat interplay with Teddy Sheringham and hopefully that will encourage Simon to go on and score more because, as he also proved with Wales recently, he is an excellent finisher. Seeing him subsequently booked for a supposed dive was frustrating because he’s simply not that kind of player but I appreciate that such situations are difficult for referees who are faced with a split-second decision, often with so much happening between them and the ball.
Now we have to build on that foundation with a good performance this afternoon, otherwise that Charlton result will be wasted. It was hard work at The Valley and it will be so again today but I know that our commitment, as ever, will be total because you can sense the desire to do well that is running through our squad.
We also have a number of our injured players on the way back and encouraging to see the likes of Les Ferdinand, Christian Ziege and Gary Doherty all back in action. There is also better news about Stephen Carr, Ledley King, Gus Poyet, Stephen Clemence and Neil Sullivan and good to see Steffen Freund come through a comeback game at Spurs Lodge in midweek.
Steffen Iversen stayed in Norway following injury to his brother Mats in a car crash and we all send our best wishes for a full recovery. Such sad situations really put this game into perspective and our thoughts are very much with the Iversen family.
It was disappointing that Qu Bo’s application for a work permit was turned down on Wednesday because, as supporters who saw him play during his pre-season trial will agree, he is a player with great potential. At 21, he is already established as a Chinese international and I’m sure he would have been a success here. We appealed against the original decision but that too was rejected so we’ve hit a bit of a brick wall on that one.
Meanwhile, with Chairman Daniel Levy, we have worked tirelessly behind the scenes in our efforts to bring in a new striker before today’s closure of the transfer window. Unfortunately, as I write these notes, there is nothing concrete to report but hopefully something will have happened by today.
The transfer market is a difficult one these days as has been illustrated by the relatively few moves of note during the summer months. This collapse is even worse across Europe and matters have not been helped by the fact that we are linked by the media with so many players, literally throughout the world. So many of these stories are so wide of the mark that they would be humorous if they didn’t mislead our supporters to such an extent.
In closing, thanks again for your excellent support at Charlton and against Villa here in our last game. As I’ve said before, you can really make a difference so let’s do it together again this afternoon.
Welcome to Gordon Strachan and to everyone from Southampton. I have some good memories of my time with the south coast club and know that we will be in for a tough test today.