The contrast between our North London rivals’ pace and power in several positions, particularly the French element, as opposed to Bradford City shows the starkingly contrasting differences between the top of the Premiership and the bottom. My sympathies are with Bradford who have found it very difficult to sustain the wonderful escape of last season and, knowing their fate this time around, have been forced to sell seven senior players.
On top of our current injury problems, we suffered the further setback of seeing Steffen Iversen stretchered off and have to hope that he recovers as soon as possible, possibly even in time for tonight’s game. With Les Ferdinand having strained a hamstring at Old Trafford and Sol Campbell’s injury nightmare continuing, we are left once again a little short on numbers.
It was particularly sad for Steffen Freund who had to miss the semi-final having worked hard all week, following two solid performances in our matches at Highbury and here against Coventry City when he showed good leadership of our younger element. Unfortunately he damaged knee ligaments in a training session just prior to us leaving for Old Trafford.
Darren Anderton should be back with us soon having had a small repair on his Achilles. Vital experience gained on the international stage cannot easily be replaced.
There is no magic cure for injury. Correct diagnosis, treatment, proper rest and the wise use of rehabilitation is the only way — but with our tricky fixture list for the run-in it would be nice to have players back. Once again the situation does give opportunities to our younger professionals.
A group of future Tottenham players, our next intake of trainees, have been welcomed into the club and will be joining us when the school term ends in the summer. Those joining us are:
Lee Barnett (from Hoddesdon), Jonathan Black (Northern Ireland), Tim Ford (Gloucestershire), Danny Foster (Enfield), Marcel McKie (Edmonton), Mario Noto (Southgate), Daniel Perry (Welwyn Garden City), Paul Rutherford (Chelmsford), Jamie Slabber (Enfield), David Tyrie (Norwich), Nicky Wettner (Thurrock) and Mark Yeates (Dublin).
This group should augment those from our Under-17 side who have played such fine football this season and beat Bristol City 4-0 at Chigwell last week. I am confident that next year’s FA Youth Cup group, an Under-18 tournament, will be a very successful unit with several potential senior players.
Three of our older boys will, unfortunately, not quite make the grade and have left for pastures new. Destin Makumbu, a 19-year-old centre-half, is taking the brave step of moving to America. Andrew Burke and Clayton Fortune have both won contracts at Bristol City where they will be following in the footsteps of Simon Clist, already an established first team player there. Good luck to them.
This Easter weekend our Under-19 youth side visited St Etienne in France for a tournament and our Under-15s took part in the Anglia Tournament and played at home on Saturday against AIK Stockholm.
Glenn Hoddle has some fresh and positive ideas about the type of players that he wants to progress our squad. I am sure that there will be some significant signings ahead. In the meantime, every game played by every player is an opportunity to impress Glenn and John Gorman who have settled in well and done so much in what must seem like a whirlwind two weeks.
While beating Bradford, Chelsea’s Italian manager Claudio Ranieri was holding a watching brief and he won’t have known too many of our players, particularly the younger ones! Let us hope that tonight’s game rouses the passions in what has always been a very competitive game for sure but reversing the recent years’ dominance by Chelsea.
Enjoy the game.
It was vitally important to put the semi-final defeat out of our minds with a win in the hastily re-arranged Bradford City game. Because of the disappointment at Manchester, there was bound to be a slightly muted reception for the side but despite our injury problems we got on with business and we were pleased to have a 28,000 crowd for a game of very little immediate league significance other than gaining the three points.