Our director of football, in temporary charge before Glenn Hoddle takes over on Monday, was faced with an injury list comprising of Sol Campbell, Sergei Rebrov, Ledley King, Darren Anderton, Stephen Carr, Tim Sherwood, Chris Armstrong, Oyvind Leonhardsen, Ben Thatcher and Maurico Taricco for the Premiership clash at Highbury.
In came the kids as David started with six players aged 21 or under.
And they did us proud until Robert Pires broke our resistance with a delightful solo effort after 70 minutes. Thierry Henry added the second late on.
David reflected: “Of course I wasn’t pleased to lose but what I was pleased with was a containing performance and the discipline for the first 70 minutes.
“Until we cracked, Pires, a splendid goal, our goalkeeper was excellent and we had some very good defensive performances in very difficult circumstances.
“We needed to hold the ball up front a little but it was very difficult.
“In the end the power and ability of the players, it becomes a wave and you can’t contain it any longer and you do crack.
“Had we kept level after 90 minutes it would have been a wonderful performance. At the same time if that was a European first leg and we were going back for the second leg I would say ‘it was a good result that’.
“The young players, Thelwell, Gardner, they came through it quite well and some players took extra responsibility and looked better for it, Perry, Freund, so we had performances even though we know, in an attacking sense, we didn’t get amongst it at all.
“Nothing that happened today surprised me but I was just hoping and praying that we could nick something or maintain the work for the whole game but it was just too much for us.”
David then insisted next week’s semi-final would bare little resemblance to Saturday’s affair.
He added: “The first half of the game next week will be more frenetic, the tempo will be quicker. I think it will be a different game next week, no doubt about it.
“We’ll be Tottenham and they’ll be Arsenal, but our team will change considerably and psychologically we have to believe that gives us an advantage.”
David Pleat, despondent in defeat, heaped praise on his depleted side after Saturday’s derby defeat at Arsenal.