I’ve always believed that once the referee blows the whistle and the ball rolls then the fate of any team is in its own hands.
Of course, sometimes an injury or a vital refereeing decision can change the course of a game. But over a 180 minute period — and maybe even extra time tonight — in more cases than not the winner is usually deserving.
A Cardiff final and a chance of Europe awaits. When interviewed recently on radio I happened to say that the spin-offs of getting into Europe were vital to a football club. I was immediately rebuked because I hinted at commercialism. It is a fact of life, however, that any financial increase resulting from a European place is something not to be dismissed lightly.
But, more importantly, it is the pride of playing in Europe and winning prestige for your club. Many teams have got into Europe and have not been financially successful by the time that they have paid out related bonuses and maybe had draws that have not been favourable for television rights.
This time of year is always important to any club. In three days time we face Bolton in an FA Cup tie which also gives an opportunity to a final. Strangely enough our Youth team also play at Bolton this evening in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup. Having dismissed Bolton from the League Cup we will be aiming for a hat-trick which would be creditable.
Sad to see that another Premiership club, Derby County, have dispensed with their manager for the second time this season. Of the clubs in the lower reaches of the Premier division, only Ipswich have kept their nerve and retained the services of their current management team and now that faith appears to be rewarded.
Leicester, Derby and Southampton have all felt the pressure of not surviving in the Premiership and felt need to change. It is not even worth recording the continual changes in the Nationwide League which leads to such instability within the game.
Our injury situation took a turn for the worst in the first leg at Stamford Bridge and everyone wishes Steffen Freund, who has become something of a cult figure here, every good wish as he slowly comes to terms with his nasty cruciate injury which means that he will not be back in action until next season. Some players can be desperately unlucky. Steffen rarely missed a match.
Other players are approaching comebacks. Gary Doherty is now training hard, Christian Ziege, hopefully, won’t be out too long, Goran Bunjevcevic is also on the recovery road and Stephen Clemence went to see a specialist with our club doctor to confirm he is almost ready to return.
Reflecting on injuries, football is not all glamour and I couldn’t help but spare a thought for Marcus Babbel at Liverpool who is fighting to continue his career after a blood disorder. Any player can have an injury that can finish him at any time and it is this understandable insecurity that is one of the factors which many players in the last few years have seized upon when looking for clubs to cover major salaries.
The recent indisipline, highlighted very strongly by some newspapers more than others, has led to an even greater microscope on the game. Players earning big salaries have to be responsible. Nothing has changed but any indiscretions are highlighted more now.
Many players in this country have always appeared to enjoy a sensible drink of beer and have the ability to sweat it off easily. Abroad, beer is frowned upon but maybe a glass of wine is recommended. One thing is certain, we must not allow any critics any further room to blast our game. Football is in the difficult position that many clubs are looking for new sponsors and the image has to be compatible with respect for the country’s national game.
Supporters have responsibilities too. Because of recent indiscretions, we have sensibly given up our previous policy of selling bottles of beer and soft drinks.
Purchasers wishing to buy a drink on the premises will now have to wait a little bit longer whilst it is poured into a plastic cup. We apologise for any inconvenience and the inevitable delay in queuing time because of the extra burden but it is a small price to pay to stop any mindless person throwing items at players on the field of play.
We want to maintain our good name at Spurs and we will continue to do everything to preserve that and ensure that no one has any ammunition to criticise.
Tonight’s game promises to be an exciting encounter captured by the television cameras. Let us hope that only good things will be voiced after the final whistle and we are in a position to celebrate another League Cup Final.
This evening’s game presents a fantastic opportunity for our Spurs to finally nail the jinx that we appear to suffer when we play our rivals from West London.