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Pleat's programme notes

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

We warmly welcome Jim Smith and his Derby County team here this afternoon in what has already become an early season encounter with some significance.

Football clubs and personnel learn to live with pressure. It is always galling to get beaten at home, particularly by a wide margin, and it is bound to set tongues wagging and increase the already hyped speculation.

So I sincerely hope in Jim Smith’s case, as one of our senior and most respected managers, that he can cope well with his current situation and come through smiling.

Many, many seasons ago Jim, in his first management post at Boston United, tried to sign me as a player from Exeter City. I remember fondly the discussions we had and, in turning it down, I opted to continue playing the league before taking up a player-manager’s role at Nuneaton.

Tomorrow Jim will be celebrating his 60<sup>th</sup> birthday at Derby and I am looking forward to being in his company.

However, this afternoon the points are more important for Spurs and we must get the recent stutter out of our systems and start playing with confidence and more self belief. Every team needs the rub of the green and in the last 15 minutes of a more spirited second half at Coventry we had chances to win the game that we failed to take.

Our players are not only experienced but playing regular international games so they are well equipped to take any pressure that mounts if they are unable to win games on a constant basis.

I was away when England suffered against both Germany and Finland so I am unable to make any comment, nor do I wish to comment on the qualities of certain individuals being touted for the managership of the national side or indeed the over-hyped qualities of some of the younger players in this country.

In the last three weeks I have seen academy games, reserve team fixtures, club games and international matches and I am absolutely certain that in the modern international game, where it is less frenetic, you need players who are comfortable with the ball, who enjoy passing accurately and swiftly and who know the value of making space and getting good width when the team has possession.

Without recognising those qualities and making them important principles of play, Uncle Tom Cobbly might as well manage England.

In truth, to succeed in football one has always needed time and patience, two vital commodities sadly lacking in the people that run the game.

A step in the right direction has been the setting up of academies in this country but I could easily become sceptical if some of our more senior clubs don’t start encouraging their own youngsters by giving them the opportunity when a first team slot becomes vacant. The constant drive to bring in players from abroad cannot be beneficial to our international game in the long run.

On a club note, I was pleased to see that we hold a high position in the Fair Play League, partly due to the attitude of our supporters who also get judged by the referee’s assessor which can lead to the end-of-season award of £20,000 for the best supporters.

Good to see John Jackson getting a glowing report for England in the recent Under-18 youth tournament in Italy…Simon Davies was likewise outstanding for Wales Under-21s…Stephen Carr continues to perform well for the resurgent Republic of Ireland who now have a genuine chance of shaking up a difficult qualifying ground that includes Portugal and Holland…our Under-19 Academy side played two recent games, one outstandingly well which led to a 1-0 victory against Coventry and a further 1-0 win against Birmingham…Espen Baardsen is still injured at Watford who fly high in Division One with Allan Nielsen now back in the side, also after injury…note our game with Chelsea has been changed back from Sunday to Saturday the 28<sup>th</sup>…by the end of this month we will have some positive information about the proposed EU ruling on the transfer system and I hope all our supporters realise the significance of this possible change and that you are writing to your MP to protest that the current system is vital to the health of British clubs…Sergei Rebrov is out of temporary accommodation and has managed to find a house near our training ground and I think this can only benefit him and his play from now on…our new website is picking up more new hits from interested supporters every day…Sol Campbell should be back soon…Mauricio Taricco has a groin strain.

Prior to today’s game, our players have enjoyed a full week’s training. Let us hope we see some effective winning play this afternoon, Enjoy the game.