MAIN INTERVIEW - WOLVES PROGRAMME - Saturday, January 14
Midfield magician Luka Modric is loving his football so far this season but he’s taking it one game at a time as the drama of the 2011-12 campaign begins to unfold. By Jon Rayner
Luka Modric says he only needs to look around the dressing room here at Spurs to understand why we are having such a fantastic campaign so far.
But he also insists that there is no need to start heaping unnecessary pressure on ourselves by talking about winning the title – at least not for the time being anyway.
Our Croatian maestro has been in scintillating form this term, featuring in 18 of our 20 Premier League fixtures, mostly from his more accustomed role in central midfield but sometimes playing off either the right or left flank when various team-mates have been unavailable. Wherever manager Harry Redknapp asks him to play though, he produces the goods, showing not only his versatility but also just what a special player he really is.
There’s no doubting Luka’s fine form has been pivotal to our run of results which has seen us lose just one of our last 18 league matches, winning 14 of them. It doesn’t matter where Modric plays on the pitch, he pulls the strings, keeps the team playing, is always looking for the ball and can open up the tightest of defences with eye-of-the-needle type passes that most players don’t even spot.
But in typically unassuming style, Luka is the first to pass on the credit for our current form to his colleagues in white.
“We didn’t start the season well but then we brought in two great players - Scott in midfield and Emmanuel up front - and they were exactly the sort of players we needed,” said the 26-year-old. “They added even more quality to our squad and since then we have just got better and better.
“The season up until now has been brilliant for us but I’m not surprised because when you look around at the players we have here now, our squad is one of the best in the league.
“We have great cover for every position, sometimes three players fighting for one place and that sort of competition pushes us all to play well. It’s one of the reasons why we are doing so well,” continued Luka, who revealed that he is enjoying being part of a team that is playing such stylish football.
“It is unbelievable to play in this team, we are playing excellent football. Winning matches is obviously important to me but even more crucial is the style of how you win those games. We are flying right now, we are winning games and the football is amazing, that makes me even more happy.”
While he praised the squad as a whole, Luka reserved special mention for his partner in midfield, Scott Parker. The England international has been outstanding this season with his drive and determination and the pair complement each other so well that it is difficult to think of a better central midfield partnership in the country at the present time. Luka certainly feels that he is reaping the rewards of playing alongside Scott.
“Scott has been brilliant since he came here. Obviously I enjoy playing with all my team-mates but I particularly enjoy playing in the team with Scott. He is a leader, someone who inspires those around him and it’s great to have a player like that in the side.
“He works so hard for the team, but he has much more to his game than that, he has great passing ability and can drive forward too, it’s a pleasure to play alongside him.
“And he also gets the crowd going as well, because he will win a tackle, but then he will win the next one and the one after that too – the fans love that passion here in England and I know he is a real favourite with the Spurs supporters already.
“I think we are a good pair together, but I have to say we also have Sandro too, a fantastic player and Jake – he is progressing well this season and I thought he was excellent against Everton the other night.
“The whole team is doing well, we are on top form and you have to be at your best if you want to be successful at the top of the league.”
And by close of play today, we could indeed be top of the league! With Manchester City not playing until Monday, victories for ourselves and Manchester United this afternoon would see a three-way tie at the Premier League summit, all on 48 points and only goal difference separating the sides.
It’s only natural that we are being mentioned in the same breath as the two Manchester clubs when people are talking about the destiny of the championship, but Luka insists that as a club, we don’t need to get involved in title talk because adding pressure at this moment would be unnecessary.
“As I said, we have been very good so far but we just have to keep going game by game, keep the same momentum and confidence that we have carried throughout the last 18 matches into the second half of the season,” Luka added.
“We have to continue to be consistent. Our aim at the start of the season was to finish in the top four and I don’t think that needs to change right now. We don’t need to think about the league title and have that pressure on top of us.
“If we keep winning matches and we reach April and May and we are still three points off the top, then who knows what we could achieve. But for now, we are happy and must keep it going.”
Next up this afternoon is the visit of Wolves for our fourth game here at the Lane in just 11 days. It’s been a gruelling spell coming just after Christmas but so far, so good and the win over Everton kept us ticking along nicely.
Of course it was our last Premier League game against Mick McCarthy’s men that kickstarted our season, as we bounced back from successive defeats in our first two matches of the campaign with a fine 2-0 win at Molineux in September.
“That was our first win of the season and it felt great at the time,” recalled the former Dinamo Zagreb ace. “It may have seemed like an easy win but it was a hard game, Wolves have some very good players and made it tough for us, as I know they will again today.
“In recent matches here, we have needed a lot of patience to break teams down and I am sure that will be the case again today. Wolves will be well organised but we have match-winners in our side who can create chances. If we play our style of football, the chances will come and then we must take them.
“Obviously after today’s game we then go to Manchester City next weekend, so it would be great if we could go into that match with another win to our name, that will give us more confidence.
“There are some very big games coming up, but right now, today’s game is the biggest.”