This afternoon we welcome another European representative from our Premier League. Manchester United have been a magnificent credit to youth development over the last few seasons as had our opponents of last week, Liverpool, who have also brought players through their youth system and are now challenging.
It is our aim to join the group of clubs who have developed their football strategies cleverly and invested in youth.
Before playing Spanish club Deportivo La Coruna last week, Ryan Giggs made the point that English clubs are now taking over favouritism for European prizes when in recent years the Spanish clubs have held sway and prior to that the Italian clubs had a very good spell.
In reality all teams that compete in Europe now have a very cosmopolitan nature and are not truly representative of the country that they play in. There are now many, many foreign players in this country as indeed there are foreign managers and coaches.
The game has become international as standards and demands for success have grown. The more players and coaching staff that come from abroad leaves indirectly less opportunities for the British player or indeed the British manager.
Only last week there were another two managerial casualties. Brian Flynn, who has done a superb job over many years at Wrexham and Noel Blake from Exeter City bringing the total of dismissals this season to six — and we are not yet into October.
From time to time when the League Managers’ Association sits this is always the subject of much discussion and
no-one has contributed more to the support and backing for more stability than Sir Alex Ferguson. He has proved the value of continuity and planning.
The type of football that we played at Liverpool won some praise — it is important that we pick up points away from home and last Saturday, until Litmanen’s super strike, we looked fairly comfortable to get some reward from Anfield.
We return shortly to the North West to play Tranmere Rovers who, interestingly have only lost once since they crashed heavily at Brentford and the chairman offered to return all the expenses to their travelling supporters — maybe it works! They will be tough opposition but a run in the League Cup would be a real fillip as players return from injury.
Our longer term injuries are all progressing well — Gary Doherty, Goran Bunjevcevic, Stephen Carr and Steffen Iversen — and they will join me and the rest of the playing and coaching staff in welcoming Dean Richards from Southampton. In the early 90s I selected a team to play in Italy representing the Endsleigh League as it was then. My centre backs were Dean Richards of Bradford City and Richard Rufus of Charlton Athletic.
I am delighted that, at 27, Dean has overcome some injury problems and he is now on board in an arena which will reward him for his perseverance.
In a world where we cannot deny that it attracts mercenary players and other individuals around the sport it should be noted that Dean Richards sacrificed much money that was in a contract in order to come here. Very few players would have made this unbelievable gesture in view of the fact that Southampton took this player on a free transfer from Wolves. This showed his commitment and is a credit to him.
With the progress of Ledley King and now, pleasingly, Anthony Gardner, we now have very positive centre-back competition and Tord Grip at Anfield last Saturday would have once again noted Ledley’s calm assurance.
Last season we dispensed with our Media Monitor. Currently we would have had a field day denying some of the gossip stories emanating from one particular newspaper.
Unfortunately it is not always possible to take action through the courts but if a journalist, when challenged, suggests his information came from impeccable sources he should have the decency to retract if the subject of the story strongly insists that it did not happen. I refer to a rather sad piece which suggested that our respected Bill Nicholson OBE had to pay to park his car at Tottenham.
I only make this point because the genuine Tottenham stories can be acquired by logging on to our website www.spurs.co.uk
This afternoon’s game presents a massive early season challenge and we all hope that it will turn out to be a game to remember, hopefully in our favour.