We welcome the officials, supporters and players of Southampton — and in particular Glenn Hoddle and John Gorman, two ex-Spurs.
This afternoon’s game gives the team an opportunity to reverse one of our most disappointing recent performances. Hopefully one or two senior players will be returning from injury.
We all accept in football that injuries are part and parcel of the game and one man’s loss through injury means another player’s opportunity. And it is in this area that we are quite pleased with the progress of our home grown players Ledley King, Luke Young and Alton Thelwell while Gary Doherty has had recent opportunities which he has taken. There are other young players awaiting similar opportunities.
Last weekend’s result at Everton proved what determination can do. With a weakened team, a slightly changed shape and different personnel, we survived a backs-to-the-wall game and kept a clean sheet.
I was hearing summaries whilst travelling abroad, looking at weekend games. There are still many talented players in France but last weekend they were all the victims of the bitterly cold weather and players that had been highly recommended, disappointed.
The contrasting home results compared to those away remains an intriguing dilemma. A recent survey shows that of 215 games so far this season, only 48 resulted in away wins, a percentage of 22% with both Chelsea and ourselves failing to win on enemy territory. Coventry City in 1999-2000 went the whole season without winning away as did Leeds United in 1992-93.
What is surprising is that the percentage is 5% more than in any of the previous eight seasons. For sure, away from home teams need pace to be able to counter attack and they also need front players who are capable of keeping the ball.
A youngster joining our crop of promising future Tottenham players is Steven Ferguson from East Fife. He has now been training with us for more than two weeks and made a promising start in a friendly against Charlton Athletic on their training ground last week. He ended the week with a goal and an assist in an Academy Under-19 game against Fulham. We wish him well. He has a good attitude and the gates are wide open at this club for any forward who can be a regular goalscorer.
Hopefully Sergei and Les will soon be fit and combining together, producing the goals they threatened before injuries broke up the partnership. With Steffen Iversen and Chris Armstrong on the sidelines after both having scored 14 league goals last year, it has been a frustrating time.
With our splendid pitch, a credit to groundsman Darren Baldwin — currently in hospital with a bad back and we wish him a quick return — in addition to our facilities and hospitality that can be assured, England have decided to place their faith in our venue for the Holland game on August 15. A good game is in prospect. The Dutch have always played good football and I’m sure that Sven Goran Eriksson will be looking at the younger element for this game.
It has been somewhat amusing in the last few weeks to read all the newspaper reporters, depending on where their club affiliations are, telling us which young players Eriksson should be picking.
Young forward Mark Gower has been transferred to Barnet. Mark has been somewhat disappointing in the last 18 months and had tended to lose a little bit of heart since he was part of the senior squad and then had a spell at Motherwell where he played effectively in the Scottish Premier League. Despite the likes of Fox and Dominguez leaving, Mark has not had a lot of opportunities but I am sure that if he applies himself he could have a good career in league football.
This week our lads are due at Stockport County for the FA Youth Cup and I am hoping they will do themselves justice. In this area, two of our foreign boys, Jon Jonsson and Ludwig Norbert, have left the club and we are in negotiations with Malmo for the loan of the Swedish national youth captain. We hope that after a spell at home he will be able to return more ready to cope with the demands of the English game.
Enjoy the game.