EXCLUSIVE COLUMN - EVERTON PROGRAMME - Wednesday, January 11
I was really pleased with our performance against Cheltenham Town at the weekend. We made 10 changes to the team that had played four days earlier against West Brom and I thought the lads that came in were excellent. We scored some good goals and played some great stuff.
There were plenty of players that needed a game, including Michael Dawson. It was great to see him playing again after four months out and, with Ledley King and William Gallas currently sidelined, it is an ideal time to have Michael back.
Once again the fans made the FA Cup a special occasion. Unlike some other stadiums at the weekend, this place was a sell-out as usual and the atmosphere was brilliant.
It is an open competition this year with the holders Manchester City already out and one of Manchester United and Liverpool definitely following in the next round. We have got a decent chance and a number of other clubs will feel the same too.
It was a difficult evening last week against West Brom because they set themselves up to be hard to beat by sitting deep and leaving no space. We like to hit teams on the counter-attack but if they aren’t coming out it is tough.
West Brom got plenty of bodies behind the ball and we found it hard to create as many chances as we normally do.
We are not always going to be able to play the type of football that we have been playing and that night we had to grind it out in the end. It was an important win to keep us up there with the top teams.
We all know there are no easy games in this league. We got a draw at newly-promoted Swansea City recently and I don’t think many teams will go there and get a win. They will be a match for anyone this year.
You look at other results over the holiday period - Blackburn proved it at Old Trafford, Sunderland beating Manchester City, Fulham winning against Arsenal – every side in this division is dangerous.
We have got some tough fixtures coming up and they don’t come much tougher than this evening’s opponents as we welcome David Moyes and the players, staff and supporters of Everton to White Hart Lane.
Everton are a strong side and they are always difficult to beat. Over the years I have never had an easy game against them. David has done a fantastic job there, they have good players and we are expecting a difficult test from them tonight.
There is a lot to play for here. We have got to try to make the Champions League first and foremost. We are right up there. We just have to keep believing, keep going and you never know what can happen. We can give ourselves a real chance to have an amazing second half of the season.
Enjoy the game.