Chelsea have invested massively over the last 18 months and no doubt their chairman will be expecting some reward. After our disappointment of the League Cup Final we too would love some silverware on the sideboard at the season’s end.
Hopefully, the game will be played in a good spirit, will be well refereed and no one will have cause for complaints at the final result. Certainly, if we are to win, we will not, for any reason, gloat over success. Likewise, I would not expect Chelsea to belittle us if they are to win through.
I make this point because there were some words attributed to Ken Bates, the vibrant Chelsea chairman, in the press, which were both unfair and untrue but typical pre-cup propaganda. Nice one Ken!
Last Saturday when we defeated Sunderland 2-1 — a game that could easily have resulted in five goals for ourselves — both the Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy and his England counterpart Sven Goran Eriksson were present. They had returned from a World Cup workshop in Tokyo and, despite massively long flights, had come to watch World Cup possibles.
In McCarthy’s case in the Sunderland side Quinn, McAteer and Kilbane all played.
If Stephen Carr is playing within a month and playing well Mick McCarthy would not discount him for a place in the World Cup Finals but he is very well off in the full-back position with Steve Finnan, of Fulham, and Gary Kelly of Leeds United.
We are all hopeful that Stephen Carr, like Gary Doherty his Irish colleague, will be playing before the end of the month.
One player on international duty last week was Kasey Keller who kept another clean sheet for the United States when they defeated Honduras 4-0. Kasey should be back in our group this afternoon.
The race for the Premiership title is very much alive now with four clubs neck and neck which will be the main focus of attention in the coming weeks. But the battle to stay in the league could also be very nerve racking for several clubs, including last Saturday’s opponents.
Joining the Premiership ranks next season should most certainly be Manchester City, who I have enjoyed watching as much as any team this season, and Wolverhampton Wanderers who have an experienced squad.
If success is directly related to the amount of money spent on the team and the capacity to attract big crowds, then these two clubs are going to finish in the positions that most pundits anticipated at the beginning of the season.
It was good to see ex-manager Peter Shreeves get the Barnet appointment as manager and immediately start with an away win. Keith Burkinshaw, who worked with Peter, has just left for South America but not before he arranged with Ricky Villa for us to look at two young Argentinean players who would be able to come to England should they be good enough.
Other ex-Spurs recently in the news were Ramon Vega, Espen Baardsen and Allan Nielsen who have all been transfer listed by Gianluca Vialli at Watford.
Ian Walker, who also left us within the last 12 months, could be on the move should Leicester be relegated.
Three of our former left-backs have recently returned to see ex-colleagues. Justin Edinburgh visited our training ground for a chat. He has recently taken all his coaching certificates and has left league football, his last club being Southend. Clive Wilson, now coaching at Wingate, attended the League Cup Final at Cardiff as did Paulo Tramezzani who made the trip from Italy whilst suspended to support us.
There was a further meeting of the Premiership clubs last week with FIFA officials to discuss transfer regulations and transfer windows. Like fellow colleagues at the League Managers’ Association, I do believe that we should get in line with Europe and be against the general thoughts of Premiership chairman who feel that they should be sympathetic to their colleagues in the Nationwide League and allow transfers all year round.
If they look closely at the figures of transfers from lower clubs to Premiership clubs they will realise that the transfer market is not the salvation for these lower clubs any more. Indeed, if there were regulation transfer windows it would help them run their businesses even more sensibly. (This is a personal view).
Last Saturday morning our younger group in the Academy had a good 3-2 win over Millwall and included in that team were six schoolboy players. They gave a gritty performance against a tough and bigger South London side and deservedly won.
On Tuesday evening the Under-18 side will be in FA Youth Cup action here against Blackburn — already we have one semi-finalist, Barnsley who defeated Manchester United on penalties and we await the game and hope that we can get a positive result.
Meanwhile, let us hope that this afternoon’s game is exciting as suggested. If we play with style, and finish well, we are capable of earning a semi spot. Get behind the team right from the first whistle.
Enjoy the game.
This afternoon’s sixth round cup tie will undoubtedly have a major significance on the fortunes of both clubs.