We’ve had a good start to the season and obviously want to maintain our 100 per cent home record but the Hammers will always be a test for any side so we’ll have it all to do this afternoon.
The irony is that we are winning without playing well so if we can find the form that we are capable of then who knows what we can achieve. What we have to seek is consistency and that will only come with experience and time. But we’re encouraged and confident and that can take you a long way in this game.
I am writing these notes before our midweek trip to Fulham and there have been other games with a bearing on the Premiership leadership. So no matter where we stand this afternoon, don’t forget that we’ve just faced five jumps in the Grand National — no more than that. It doesn’t mean much at this stage although naturally we’ll be trying to stay up there in the certain knowledge that there’s still one hell of a long way to go!
So we’ve been pleased with our start — if not the level of our performances. We can certainly play a lot better and I know that we will do so. Ironically, so early in the season, we’ve already had to do without the likes of Stephen Carr, Gus Poyet, Darren Anderton, Steffen Freund, Steffen Iversen, Neil Sullivan, Christian Ziege, Stephen Clemence, Ledley King, Anthony Gardner and others.
That’s more than a complete team — in fact it would be quite a good balanced line-up — and few other clubs could afford to lose such international quality in one hit as we’ve been forced at times to endure. So it’s a credit to the character of our squad that we’ve gone on gaining results.
Fortunately, there is better news in that area with Steffen Iversen and Christian Ziege now back at the club, Stephen Carr has returned to training and Steffen Freund has been playing Reserve team football.
Another piece of good news is the arrival of Robbie Keane. This is my first opportunity to welcome him in this column to White Hart Lane and, judging by the reception he received before our last game here, you share my delight at his signing.
We had hoped to bring in more than one player and chairman Daniel Levy certainly burnt the midnight oil in his efforts to make that happen. But if it had to be just the one arrival then I’m glad that man was Robbie Keane. I predict great things from a player who made so many people sit up and take notice during the recent World Cup.
Robbie will bring an extra dimension to our play and opponents will have to find a new way of trying to contain our attack because Robbie’s presence gives us so many options. His enthusiasm is also infectious.
After moving from club to club, he now has a chance to settle here at the Lane and, once he’s done that, I know that we will then see the best of him. I said when we signed him that he is now at “home” and I firmly believe that. Robbie is very much a Spurs player in our established tradition and, at 22, will be part of an excellent young group of players here that will only get better as they emerge together.
With Robbie joining Ledley, Anthony Gardner, Simon Davies, Gary Doherty, Matthew Etherington and Jonathan Blondel we have much to anticipate from one of the best groups of youngsters in the country.
Matthew (England) and Jonathan (Belgium) were both away with their respective Under-21 squads last week while Doc and Robbie (Republic of Ireland), Simon Davies (Wales), Goran Bunjevcevic (Yugoslavia), Milenko Acimovic (Slovenia), Steffen Iversen (Norway) and Sergei Rebrov (Ukraine) were all called into their senior groups. Both Doc and Simon were also on target. Congratulations to them all.
In closing, I was delighted to be named Barclaycard ‘Manager of the Month’ for August. The award is a tribute to the hard work of our backroom staff and players and I pay tribute to them all for a marvellous team effort.
Get behind the lads this afternoon and ensure that once again you make the difference.
Welcome to all from West Ham United and, in particular, to manager Glenn Roeder and his staff. We go back a long way, to our England days together and the World Cup, and I’m delighted to see what a great job Glenn’s doing at Upton Park where he’s turned things around so well.