But our visitors showed enough ideas and pace on the break for us to know that it could again be a very even game this evening. It is very rare for Tottenham to be named as favourites for a competition but I am told that the betting fraternity has made us 11-4 to lift the trophy that we last secured with Allan Nielsen’s late goal two years ago.
It has been a busy time at the training ground with various players returning from injury and playing in games to help their fitness programme. Recently we have played Millwall and Southend in private games and accelerated the fitness schedules of the likes of Steffen Iversen, Tim Sherwood, Ben Thatcher and Kasey Keller who are all now fully fit for action.
Dave Beasant, in his long and illustrious career, must have had many strange situations but it could well be that his period here could result in him not making a senior start.
Our own Academy goalkeeper coach Perry Suckling spent last Saturday morning talking on Radio 5, prior to the World Cup draw, about some of his goalkeeping experiences when a piece on Fabien Barthez was in focus. All goalkeepers make mistakes — it is how they react to them that counts.
Perry has started work in the Spurs Academy and is pleased with the progress of our group of young goalkeepers. Shwan Jalal, who came from Hastings in the summer, is beginning to cope with the professional environment and Perry is also pleased with the form of a couple of younger boys, including Nick Eyre who will probably be joining us next season and is in the England schoolboys squad.
We have developed further our relationships with Slavia Prague, who are one of the Enic clubs, along with Vicenza, AEK Athens, Basle and Glasgow Rangers. Basle currently top the Swiss League and I spoke to Christian Gross, their manager, the other day who sends his warm regards to everyone at Tottenham.
Christian is a real fine bloke and everyone is delighted that he is currently doing so well in his homeland.
Four of the young Slavia players joined us this week for a spell with our Reserve squad so that we can compare relevant standards. Slavia, who regularly reach European competition by virtue of their league position, are finding it more difficult this season and are currently sitting sixth in their domestic league.
We have also strengthened the relationship with a club in Israel, Betar Tobruk in Netanya, who have a thriving Academy which produces some very good young international players.
We have constantly monitored one particular player and as a result of our friendship eight of their younger players have come over as a special treat by their President and we will be looking after them, with training, the opportunity to watch our senior players work and also a few days break in London. These sorts of exchanges can only be mutually beneficial.
Our Youth Cup team have begun this season’s campaign with a 5-1 win at Walsall and we hope that, with one or two of the favourite clubs like Liverpool and Newcastle having already hit the dust, we can enjoy some success. Academy games have a break after next Saturday and resume on January 12.
Our AGM takes place on Friday and I am sure it will be a very interesting experience for the changed Board. Very few clubs have the interest and the passion that is generated by Tottenham Hotspur where shareholders can have the opportunity to air their views from the floor.
Obviously, at this time in football where everyone thinks of today and winning the next game, we have to be more than aware as custodians of the club of future developments within the game and never ever take our eye off the ball.
Recent events, not least of all the discussion to consider a new League format and the financial problems at several clubs, have been highlighted. It is our commitment as a Board to try to achieve success without getting in a financial noose; it is not easy and requires clever and experienced management.
Most clubs are now holding too many players and there is some mediocrity that has tobe shelved.
Freedom of contact has meant that clubs have to be far more exact with the identification of talent. In this process we are prepared to lend several of our current younger players who have had some reserve experience but find themselves still some distance away from the first team substitute’s bench.
It is our job to help these boys find employment within the game if they do not quite measure up to our standards. But it is getting far more difficult now to do as clubs have to now start looking and cutting costs with the current financial uncertainty in the game.
Let us hope that we can achieve a semi-final place and a rewarding League Cup Final slot. We are moving up the table, the Reserves are challenging for top spot in the Premier Reserve League South and the Academy boys are also in the top two slots in their divisions — but we must keep improving.
Enjoy the game.
Tonight’s intriguing Cup tie with Bolton can give the winners a clear sight of Cardiff in this year’s Worthington Cup Final. Last Monday both sides earned plusses and we enjoyed an exciting finish in our favour.