On the field the prospects are bright as we prove that there is no substitute for quality and a competitive challenge for places.
At Blackburn, we succumbed to our first League defeat of the season with an uninspiring performance. This afternoon we have an opportunity to put that right.
I’m sure all our supporters will warmly welcome Graeme Souness, a great player and respected manager who cut his teeth at Glasgow Rangers. Graeme, of course, is an ex-Spur who made his name after leaving as an unsettled, ambitious youngster.
In gaining promotion last year they revived not so distant memories of winning the League Championship in 1995 under Tim Sherwood’s captaincy. There is an added flavour about today’s game — if, and hopefully, we defeat Chelsea over two legs it could well be that we meet Blackburn, should they overcome Sheffield Wednesday, in the Worthington Cup Final at Cardiff. I’m sure today’s game will have no bearing on that possibility but we know we will have to be on our toes against a club who have coped admirably with their promotion.
The week before Christmas used to be a period where players relaxed with their families ahead of the holiday rush of games. Nowadays the fixture list is so congested that there is football every evening of the week prior to Christmas and armchair viewers can sit with their beer and mince pie and compare the gulf between the likes of Dagenham, Watford and the Premier.
Surely one of the New Year wishes for the game is that the television income will stay firm but the clubs will be a little wiser in the way they distribute the monies.
The Wembley debate lingers on and we are still uncertain whether we will be playing international games there. For many years now football has needed a democratic dictator at the top to over-ride some of the many decision-making committees which are so long-winded.
We ourselves are looking at obtaining some ground away from Chigwell which would be big enough to cater for all the demands of the Academy charter. We hope to have some news of these developments soon, which could mean a major milestone in the club’s history.
On Saturday memories of the FA Cup Final in 1987 will no doubt be revived when we play at Coventry City. It is a tricky game. I have seen Coventry several times this season and been particularly impressed with two or three of their players.
Gary Breen, whose contract expires this summer when he hopes to go with Ireland to the World Cup, has been playing well and a little known Moroccan called Safri has been an influence when operating as a holding midfield player. So far big signing Lee Hughes, at one time a £350,000 buy from Kidderminster, has not been able to have the same success as at Albion.
In Roland Nilsson as manager they have one of the most outstanding full-backs of the last few years in the Premiership who is 100% dedicated. I am sure that with your support on Saturday we can begin another FA Cup run even though the season finishes in the year 02.
There are a few other ex-Tottenham players now playing in the lower leagues who will be hoping for some glory and excitement next week.
Dagenham and Redbridge boast Junior McDougald, Danny Hill and Mark Janney and they will be hoping to unseat Ipswich while Mark Stimson and Wayne Vaughan are playing successfully for Canvey Island who go to Burnley. We wish them well.
Finally, a quartet of New Year wishes.
One — that our supporters continue to see attractive and winning football at Tottenham.
Two — Glenn Hoddle knows that he has a sound group of sensible, fair-minded athletes at this club who are proud to wear the Tottenham shirt and behave accordingly and are dedicated professionals. Over the Christmas period they did various amounts of charitable work and represented the club in an exemplary manner.
Three — that England, the barometer of the progress of football in this country, enjoys a successful World Cup.
Four — that we reconstruct the nature of the Football League for the good of the game so that so many clubs aren’t forever unable to carry out their business without risking financial ruin.
Have a wonderful 2002 and keep up your tremendous support for Glenn and the boys.
We approach the New Year with much hope. There have been major changes at the club and the transition has been smooth.