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THE JOL VERDICT

Posted on 21 March 2007  - 12:00

Martin Jol looks back on our FA Cup exit and forward to the challenges ahead in the Premiership and UEFA Cup…

Martin Jol looks back on our FA Cup exit and forward to the challenges ahead in the Premiership and UEFA Cup…THEY WERE TWO high quality goals that ended our interest in this season's FA Cup - particularly the strike from Shevchenko.

It was, and we said it before the game, a matter of our players making the difference on the night. Their forwards did if for them and ours, who have made a big difference over the last couple of months, simply weren’t afforded the space to produce what they have done before.

Our midfield game was good, we didn't have many problems at the back and Paul Robinson didn't really have a save to make. On the other hand, Chelsea defended very well in an electrifying atmosphere in our stadium and I thank the fans for that.

We took the initiative in this game. If you look back at our other games against them last year and the year before, we defended, defended and tried to hit them on the break. That time is over.

We took the game to them. We did it at their ground as well and scored three goals. We then got sloppy, but it was not about defending leads, it is about dealing with set pieces - that is what we have got to learn. Maybe it is something to do with size and it could be a structural thing we have to change in the future.

I can't fault my players though because I feel we did everything in the first half before we came out in the second and got on top of them. They then scored a goal out of nothing.

I feel we are as talented as they are, it is close, as proved by us winning at the Lane earlier in the season and drawing 3-3 in the original cup tie.

I think these teams are beginning to respect our challenge and that is what I want. I want the Manchester Uniteds, Arsenals and Liverpools to realise we are on our way to being a top side. I know we are, but we have to cut out the errors.

Sometimes you have to do it the hard way, but Monday was our sixth game in 15 days and everybody gave everything. That was good but it is awful to go out of the FA Cup at home after falling two behind.

Everybody says we are playing entertaining football if you compare us with last season but we have to realise if we are to achieve something we must keep clean sheets as well and that is something to work on in future.

A lot of other clubs would like to swap with us - believe me - and we are getting there. On Monday somebody said to me after the game that maybe we are a 'nearly team', but you could say that about any club that hasn't won the prize they want.

I don't think we are a nearly team – more that we are nearly there.

The story of this season still has a few chapters to run and we have come back in the league with four wins in a row that has put us back in business. We have to continue with this because we want to be in the top six.

We also have Seville in the quarter-final of the UEFA Cup to concentrate on. We are the only team in the competition to record eight wins from eight games and that is good, but Seville will be a very tough test.

I saw them play Celta Vigo at the weekend and they are a great team - lots of flair, with quick players who are all good on the ball. But on our day, if we can get a good result away from home, our supporters can make the difference at White Hart Lane on an occasion I'm sure we are all looking forward to.