Tottenham have a history of outstanding games with our friends from the East Midlands, Leicester City, and I am in the unique position of having managed both clubs. There is always a warm welcome at Leicester and the advance of the club in the past few seasons is testimony to the work put in by their Chairman, Mr. John Elsom and his Board.
Colin Murphy, who has assisted me three times in my management career, is now helping Peter Taylor and I am sure that the ex-Tottenham winger will once again find Colin — as he did at Southend — a knowledgeable and hard-working ally.
Their performances on the field this season, having taken over a difficult position from Martin O’Neill, have been excellent and Peter has obviously been rewarded with the extra prestigious appointment of being considered one of the future England coaches. We wish him luck in that position.
Everyone was pleased with the attitude and commitment, together with some fine play, produced in the Sky game last Sunday afternoon. It was a welcome relief from some of the unkind words that had been generated by the media but, to their credit, they proved that when we play well they are more than prepared to attribute plaudits in our direction.
My pleasure last Sunday was purely in seeing Alton Thelwell and Ledley King prove that opportunity is everything with young players. It is my constant theme, not only at Tottenham but with players in this country who have had to sacrifice their opportunities while we have invited much mediocrity from abroad.
The previous day I had got cold feet but warm feelings watching our Under-17 Academy side beat a young QPR side at Acton. The fluidity of the football in the first half was a pleasure but it was not something that is isolated. In recent games against Arsenal, Ipswich and Birmingham I saw many positive signs. And I am gaining much optimism with the boys whom we have encouraged to join the club and the very excellent attention of the coaching staff in the Academy.
In this respect it must have been a difficult decision for Ricky Hill to leave us this summer to join Luton. Sadly he has already lost that appointment as manager, however, we wish him well. He left a group which Jimmy Neighbour has taken on admirably and next Tuesday we will start off on our FA Youth Cup campaign against Bradford City here at the Lane.
It would be wrong to mention individuals, but I can assure supporters that we have several other players who will fight all the way to make sure that they have an equal chance to prove themselves. Alton Thelwell, Ledley King, Stephen Clemence, Stephen Carr and Luke Young all represented the youth system admirably last Sunday. Remember too that Sol Campbell should be back soon and Ian Walker is showing patience.
Tommy Harmer was a guest at our training ground recently and everyone made a big fuss of him. How would a subtle scheming but so small inside-forward, without physical strength, get on nowadays? But everybody remembers Tommy Harmer with great fondness and he is an ex-Spur who is always welcome.
My guest last Sunday, enjoying a game that he described as ‘chalk and cheese’ having watched Bradford-Derby the previous day, was Tord Grip, Sven Goran Eriksson’s new assistant. He is staying in London now watching as much football as possible to report back to Sven Eriksson on the quality of potential England candidates.
In our starting line-up only Stephen Carr, Neil Sullivan and Sergei Rebrov were born outside of England and with the opportunity of seeing the likes of Carragher, Gerrard, Fowler, Barmby and Owen, Mr Grip had a field day, being witness to so many English players proving that there is talent here that should be nurtured correctly.
We now need to put a run together. Next week we have a difficult game at Manchester United but today is another opportunity to enhance the home record. The reasons why teams produce results at home but not away are sometimes quite simplistic. Our manager is aware of those vital ingredients that are required to win away and we are all working hard in seeking to identify and be in a market to invite that certain type of player/s to bolster our squad.
I am sure the players appreciated once again the cheers of the crowd and although the dissenters had a quiet day, you always understand that in a democratic society, watching a fascinating game like football, there will always be many varied opinions and it is impossible to keep all the people happy all the time. The trick is to make sure that you are in the top two!
Enjoy the game.