MAIN INTERVIEW - MATCHDAY PROGRAMME v CHELTENHAM - Saturday, January 7
Opportunity knocks for Rose
Exclusive interview with our England Under-21 international Danny Rose, who is having to play the waiting game for his opportunity this season – but hopes this afternoon could be his time. By Jon Rayner
It’s been a frustrating campaign for Danny Rose so far but he’s hoping an extended run in this season’s FA Cup will give him the chance to shine on the big stage.
The 21-year-old has had to bide his time for first team opportunities this term, a combination of injuries and the form of the likes of Benoit Assou-Ekotto restricting Danny to just seven appearances to date in Harry Redknapp’s side.
However, as we kick-off our FA Cup campaign for 2011-12 with the visit of Cheltenham Town for this third round clash, the Doncaster-born player will be aiming to make a big impression, if selected this afternoon.
We’ve certainly all seen his qualities in a Spurs shirt already – and not just his ability to rifle home 30-yard volleys in north London derbies against Arsenal ! While that goal in April, 2010, will always endear Danny to the White Hart Lane faithful, the England Under-21 international proved there is so much more to his game during a run of appearance towards the end of last season, as he more than ably deputised for the injured Benoit.
While Assou-Ekotto has been a model of consistency this season though, Danny has been forced to play the waiting game although he holds Benoit in such high regard, that he can fully accept being behind him in the pecking order.
“Hopefully I’ll play today against Cheltenham, look to do my best and then take it from there,” said the former Leeds United scholar. “I came in at the back end of last season and felt I did quite well, it was a shame the season had to end really because I was enjoying playing and was getting into my stride.
“Obviously it’s difficult when you are not playing, but when you are behind someone like Benoit – who I believe is the best left-back in the Premier League and one of the best in the world – it’s easier to accept.
“When he plays I just sit back and watch him, learn from him because he is one of the best in that position. Week in, week out he produces the goods and I know that I have to be at that level too if I am to get my chance.
“Of course it’s frustrating for me and I need to be patient, but that’s easier said than done. If it was up to me, I would be playing every week. Perhaps there’s a chance I might go out on loan but we’ve got a few injuries lately so we’ll see what happens.
“All I do know is that whenever I get an opportunity, like I will this afternoon hopefully, I have to take it and show the gaffer what I can do.”
Always one of the most exciting weekends in the football calendar, the FA Cup third round will no doubt once again bring with it the usual sprinkling of shocks and drama, heroes and villains and Danny insists that, if we don’t want to be the big upset everyone is talking about tomorrow, then we have to give Cheltenham the respect they deserve.
Currently second in League Two, a point off the top, the Robins are on an amazing run of nine wins and a draw from their previous 10 away games which include successes over Tranmere Rovers (1-0) and Luton Town (4-2) in their two FA Cup ties this season. As always, beware the underdogs!
“We didn’t know too much about Cheltenham before the draw but as always, we’ve watched dvds of their previous games and the way they play and we’ll certainly be ready for them this afternoon,” said Rose.
“We have to respect the form they are in and the players they have, as we would do any team that we come up against. They’ll be well-supported I’m sure and it will be like a cup final for them, to come to a big Premier League club. They will want to put on a show.
“But we have more than enough quality in our dressing room, whatever team the manager picks, to beat most teams. Even our second XI is good enough to play in the Premier League, so if we do our things correctly today, play the way we know we can, then I’m confident we can progress.”
And a cup run is certainly something we all crave! Eight times winners of the world famous competition and with a proud and rich FA Cup heritage, we haven’t reached the final since we lifted the cup in 1991.
We’ve had to endure two very different types of disappointments in exiting the competition over the last two years and Danny speaks for all of us when he says he wants to go all the way this season.
“Two years ago we reached the semi-finals and, realistically, we felt we should have beaten Portsmouth,” he recalled. “But it didn’t happen on the day and that was a tough pill to take at the time. Then last year we lost heavily away to Fulham in round four in what was a nightmare afternoon for us, so this time we are all determined to go as far as we can – and hopefully all the way to the final.
“It is such a fantastic competition to play in and people all around the world know about the FA Cup. As a kid I can always remember watching Ryan Giggs weave his way past the Arsenal defence and score that amazing goal to win the semi-final for Manchester United, the year they won the treble.
“That’s what this tournament is like – it delivers moments in football that live forever.”
Although having had to watch much of it from the sidelines this term, Danny has been entertained like the rest of us by the quality of our football in the Premier League so far this season. He’s featured three times as a substitute in the league, most recently in the win at Carrow Road against Norwich.
“We are flying at the moment, these are good times at the Lane and everyone is excited about the second half of the campaign,” said Danny.
“We’re playing great football and are on a great run of results. We were disappointed to draw at Swansea recently and that says everything about how far we’ve come. I thought Swansea were one of the best teams I’ve seen play this season, they deserve plenty of praise for the way they play, but we left there feeling like we had dropped two points rather than gained one.
“We’ve got a strong squad, plenty of competition for places and we have to be confident that we can maintain our form. Let’s just see where that can take us.”