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Matchday Xtra - Harry's column, Jake interview

Your chance to read Harry Redknapp's exclusive column and the main interview with midfielder Jake Livermore direct from this evening's official matchday programme against Stevenage.


Programme notes v Stevenage, FA Cup replay - Wednesday, March 7

You don’t always get what you deserve in football and I certainly don’t think we did on Sunday against Manchester United.

The players did everything I asked them to do, they were outstanding. There was only one team that should have been in front at half-time and yet I couldn’t believe we were 1-0 down.

We started the second half in exactly the same fashion. We got on top again and we pressed and worked them.

Sometimes you need a bit of luck in whatever you do but on Sunday we didn’t get the breaks. We’ve all had days like that.

We have been on an incredible run of winning games and turning in excellent performances. We had a blip against Arsenal but I couldn’t go home disappointed after Sunday.

Nobody gets more upset than me when we lose but I couldn’t have asked for any more from the lads. There were plenty of positives and we will pick ourselves up again.

This evening we are back in action in the FA Cup as we welcome the management, players and supporters of Stevenage to White Hart Lane for our fifth round replay.

Stevenage are a smashing football club and they have done amazing when you consider they were playing non league football just two years ago and are now well in the contention for promotion to the Championship.

Gary Smith is a good young manager and he has come in and continued the great work done before he arrived along with his assistant manager Mark Newsom, who used to play for me at Bournemouth.

It was tough at Broadhall Way last month in the original game and I expected nothing less. It was a good old-fashioned cup tie. They worked hard and made it difficult for us and so we had to scrap away in the end to take this tie to a replay.
They will be up for this and will work their socks off to get something out of this game. We obviously have a big chance now we are at home but we know it will not be easy. You have to compete and if you don’t then you are in trouble.

I have been around long enough and been involved in so many of these cup ties over the years. I have been on the right end of upsets as well as the wrong end so our attitude will need to be spot on this evening.

This is a special competition and if we play the way we know we can then I believe we have the quality at this club to go all the way this year.

Enjoy the game.


Main interview, Stevenage programme - Wednesday, March 7

Jake’s hungry for success

Like most young football fans, Jake Livermore grew up on a diet of FA Cup thrills and spills, shocks and dramas. Now, he wants to play his part in the world’s most famous cup competition and add his name to the list of winners.

As breakthrough seasons go, the 2011-12 campaign for Jake Livermore couldn’t get much better…yet he feels he could still put the icing on the cake of an excellent year by having an FA Cup winners medal hanging round his neck.

Before the start of this term, Jake had featured just three times in our colours – one of those only a matter of minutes as a late substitute – as he patiently bided his time for his opportunity.

Having emerged from our Academy ranks as a highly-regarded midfielder, the Enfield-born youngster took the familiar loan spell path in order to further his experience and his cut his teeth in the game in the lower leagues.

MK Dons, Derby County, Peterborough United, Ipswich Town and Leeds United all handed him game time to help him improve and enhance as a player before Harry Redknapp gave Jake the opportunity he had worked so hard for.

He doubled his appearance tally for Spurs in the first three games of this season, starting both legs of our Europa League play-off against Hearts and being giving a huge confidence boost by keeping his place in the side that travelled to Old Trafford for the first Premier League game of this campaign.

Livermore even opened his goalscoring account for his boyhood club when he fired home in the 5-0 win at Tynecastle and it would be fair to say that his stock has gone from strength to strength as the campaign has progressed.

Having 27 appearances to his name already certainly proves that and confirms the manager’s trust in a player who looked composed and comfortable in midfield against Manchester United on Sunday.

But even Jake admits he didn’t expect this season to go the way it has done to date.

“Yes, I suppose you could say I’m a bit surprised with how it’s gone so far,” he explained.

“Obviously at the start I was hoping to have played plenty of games but you never quite know how the season is going to pan out.

“I’ve had campaigns in the past when you think everything is fine and going to go a certain way and then it ends up going completely the other direction. You pick up injuries, or you go out on loan and there’s a change of manager, things don’t work out, you can never predict it.

“There can be a lot of obstacles in your way but this season has been pretty straight-forward for me. I’m grateful that – touch wood – I’ve been injury free and when my time has come to be called upon by the manager, I’ve been fit, healthy and raring to go and I’ve come in and done the job required of me.

“All I want to do is play football, obviously I’d love to play week in, week out but this is a top four club so that’s not always going to be easy. I’m happy with the opportunities I’ve been given, hopefully I can push for a starting role more regularly now.”

Sunday’s appearance against champions Manchester United will no doubt have taught Jake many number of lessons. Playing in a game alongside top class team-mates and against some of the Premier League’s greatest ever players will clearly provide invaluable experience for the memory bank for Jake.

He was very impressive in the first half at the centre of midfield with Sandro, the pair showing great discipline, commitment and energy levels to deny United’s danger men time and space on the ball, which allowed us to dominate possession.

But perhaps the greatest lesson of all, one which everyone who plays football knows but seems helpless to prevent, is that you never write off Sir Alex Ferguson’s team even when you appear to be on top.

Despite our fine display – in which Emmanuel Adebayor had a goal chalked off for handball after Louis Saha’s goalbound effort appeared to hit his arm before the Togo striker bundled the ball home - we found ourselves 3-0 down after 68 minutes and had only a late Jermain Defoe goal to show for our endeavours.

“I thought the performance was good, particularly first half and at the start of the second,” said Jake. “It was just disappointing not to take anything from it. If Louis’s effort goes in then maybe we are looking at a different story but at least we can take positives from the game.

“The gaffer gave us a game plan to press them high up the pitch and I thought that worked well, we were getting success from that. But of course the result is all important in this industry. We just have to move on to the next one now.

“From a personal point of view, it was nice to play against players who I used to look up to as a kid,” revealed Livermore. “A couple of weeks ago it was Steven Gerrard, on Sunday it was Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs. Scholes was one of my all-time favourites as a youngster, so it was quite strange to be up against him but exciting all the same.

“You want to test yourself against the best and there aren’t too many better than the players I’ve faced in the last few weeks.”

Jake admits it was Welsh wizard Giggs who provided one of his stand-out moments in FA Cup history, when he scored that mazy run and goal to knock Arsenal out at the semi-final stage in 1999, en route to winning the famous treble that season.

“That is probably my biggest memory of the FA Cup as a kid,” he said. “Being a Spurs fan and seeing Arsenal get knocked out by an amazing goal scored by one of my heroes too, I remember it well.”

Now though, Jake is hoping to write his own name into FA Cup folklore as the famous old competition returns to White Hart Lane with tonight’s fifth round replay against Stevenage. After a goalless draw in the first game, the two teams reconvene for a match that has to be decided on the night.

As a real fan of the FA Cup and having watched it with interest down the years, Jake has seen how the underdogs can upset the favourites and, after featuring in that first encounter, he knows Stevenage will fancy their chances tonight.

“It doesn’t matter who you are playing, there are no easy games in the FA Cup,” he said. “The reason it has such a fantastic reputation around the world is because the lower league teams can knock out the big clubs on any given day.

“I mentioned our game plan the other day against United and Stevenage had their own one to combat us in the first game and it worked for them. We were a bit unlucky I felt, perhaps didn’t play that well on the day, but credit to Stevenage for their performance. Hopefully this evening though, at the Lane in front of our own supporters, it will be a different story.”

With a home tie against Bolton Wanderers for a place in a Wembley semi-final awaiting tonight’s winners, both teams will be keen to progress and Jake is determined to cap this fine season with some silverware to show for our football.

“This is a really good opportunity for us to win something this year,” he added. “We are third in the table and hopefully we can prove what we are made of over the next few months and retain that spot, while in the cup – with all due respect to the other teams – at the start of our cup run we would have taken home games against Stevenage and Bolton to reach the last four.

“Yes, it has been a great season for me on a personal level, and for the team as well so far, but I want to be a part of a Spurs team that wins something.

“I want to be able to look back at the history books and the matchday programmes in years to come and say I was a part of that Spurs side that won the FA Cup.”