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Programme notes: George Graham

Posted on 19 August 2000  - 12:00

English Barclays Premiership

It's great to be back! All the players share that view as we hope for a successful season - especially after the disappointments of last term.

Expectations, as you would anticipate at a club like this, are very high. We are encouraged in that ambition by the fact that we also welcome three new additions to the playing staff - Sergei Rebrov, Neil Sullivan and Ben Thatcher.

Their presence makes us stronger although we are still after more players as we must strive for a bigger and more comprehensive squad of players that can handle all the problems we inevitably face in the Premiership over a season - injuries, suspensions and lack of form.

But since I came to Spurs almost two years ago, with the club having just avoided relegation, we have been making steady progress - albeit in the eyes of some people, not rapidly enough! All I can say to those people is: 'be patient'. Time is crucial. We are moving forwards and I believe that the majority of our supporters can understand that.

Nowadays in the Premiership it is very difficult unless you throw many millions of pounds at it. It is an extremely tough task to go from relegation candidates to serious title contenders within a couple of years. It's almost impossible in my view.

Again my target for the new season is to qualify for Europe based on a strong position in the league and also to do well in the cup competitions. However, this season it is essential that we stay injury free because that has always been a problem at Tottenham in recent times. We cannot afford to suffer again as we did last season when we lost influential players over long periods with bad injuries.

Unfortunately, such situations are part of the game so it is crucial that we assemble the strength in depth to cope with all eventualities.

Pre-season has been very productive. In addition to our domestic games, we were away for a week with two games in Sweden and another in Finland. The training camp was excellent, ideal for our preparations, both physically and from the point of view of the players being focussed for the new season.

On another matter, David Ginola's departure has caused a great deal of discussion and needs to be addressed in these notes. There is no doubt that David has played a role here. Indeed the relationship was good for both sides. Tottenham took him from Newcastle Reserves and, in that respect, we helped him and likewise David did a great job for Spurs, becoming an idol to the majority of the fans.

But I felt that the time was right for David to move on. Now that chapter closes and I wish him well at his new club Aston Villa - except when he plays against Tottenham !

Today, we welcome George Burley and Ipswich Town back to White Hart Lane and to the Premiership. They will find that things have changed since they were last in the top flight but I wish them well in the challenge that lies ahead.

However, from our own point of view, it is obviously essential that we get off to a good start today.