It’s been a magnificent week. As a coach you can’t ask for any more than 10 goals and none against. There’s definitely been a buzz around White Hart Lane from the supporters’ point of view and the players have been feeding off it, which is a good sign.
The lads have also taken that lively attitude with them to Spurs Lodge and that’s the positive atmosphere that we’ve been working in as we’ve prepared for today’s game.
Now it’s up to us to maintain our recent level of performance and that’s what we will be looking to do over the Christmas period.
It was somewhat unfair that our performance here against Bolton in the Worthington Cup did not get the plaudits it deserved because the newspapers decided to concentrate on the strength of the opposition. But although Bolton clearly fielded a weakened side we were still up against professional players with a lot of experience out there and I had to be pleased with our movement and overall approach on the night.
We are playing good football, passing the ball well, and our workrate is extremely high as a team. Everyone is working for each other and when you’ve got that it’s like having 12 players on the pitch.
We carried that on against Fulham where we knew that we had to nullify them and the lads concentrated on that crucial aspect really well. We cut their supply source down and then opened them up ourselves, being clinical in our finishing.
That is what’s been good this year; we’ve got people that can finish from all angles and from all positions and the goalscoring is being spread right across the field.
Les, in particular, has been on a real streak and all credit to him because he’s been playing with an ankle problem and it was fantastic that he scored the Premiership’s 10,000th goal. That was a significant milestone for Les and the club and it couldn’t have fallen to a nicer chap.
It’s true for the moment that nothing’s been achieved but good foundations have been installed. However, Christmas and on into the New Year is always a vital time and this period will tell us more about any advancement that we have made.
With back-to-back games I will have to use the whole squad, bringing in fresh people and fresh legs. However we need to ensure that we get that right because I’m not out to tinker with things just for it’s own sake. I would never do that. But I have to plan what team I will play against what side, resting people as we go along, in what is a real test of management and very much a balancing act.
With the two legs of the Worthington Cup and the FA Cup to add to our league programme we are approaching an even heavier schedule.
Meeting Chelsea in the Worthington is a good draw for us, particularly being away in the first leg, because it gives us a great opportunity to put the record straight against them. There is no doubt that we are up for it and the reaction of our players was one of excitement when they heard about it.
One player who can’t wait is Gus Poyet who was suspended when the two sides met here in September. True, it will be a titanic battle but what a tie to win!
Now to Ipswich. John and I watched them at Villa Park in midweek and they deserved to win the game. They are not a team that is playing poorly and with no confidence, they pass the ball extremely well and I’m sure that at some given time they will start turning the corner. What’s we’ve got to ensure is that it is not against us.
Any neutrals at Villa would have thought the home side on the night was the one struggling at the bottom of the table. That says a lot for George and his side. They are down there and you’re always under pressure in that position but if they keep playing like that and go on creating then they’ll soon get out of their troubles.
The players and staff enjoyed our Christmas party together on Sunday night and the Chairman and the Board should be applauded for organising what was a greatly enjoyable night. The spirit was high and it was good to meet everybody because it’s rare that we can all get together during a season.
From all the players and staff, have a wonderful Christmas.
Happy Christmas to you all.