Programme: David Pleat
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).
I was looking forward to seeing Jim Smith this evening, one of the true gentlemen of football and one of the most successful. Sadly Derby County decided last week that they needed a fresh impetus to pick up some points and they parted company.
Over many years Jim has done superbly well with limited resources, the true test of any manager? Life goes on and we welcome Colin Todd whom I know well, an outstanding player for England and at one time at Luton where we had the benefit of his services on a three month loan.
He has a tremendous opportunity to advance things at Derby but the threat of a big debt hangs over the club as it does many clubs who have been brave enough to seek new grounds. Bolton, Stoke and Southampton are others who have invested in new stadiums and are finding it tough. Leicester and Coventry also look likely to move stadia in difficult conditions.
It is disappointing that the PFA and the league clubs are on a collision course over monies they received from the Premier League. Gordon Taylor has spoken loudly and clearly on his union's points whilst the league have kept their information to the press to a minimum. There are many uninformed comments both from managers and press alike at the moment and it would be wiser if we all leave the negotiating entirely to the Premier League and the union as they are fully aware of the historic events that led to them getting to the figure they currently get.
Players at Premier League level should bear in mind that they would never be receiving the salaries they now do had it not been for the negotiated TV deals.
Furthermore, if there are any future problems in two or three years as a result of the television companies having the option to renegotiate because there is a strike then there could be very serious recriminations for the game.
The entire and contrasting emotions of football were shown quite clearly in two or three events that happened last week. There was the tremendous disappointment for those who watched us crumble in the second half against a stunning Manchester United and also the terrific sadness for those staff who were involved in relaying the news to Willem Korsten who has failed to recover from his hip problem.
Willem is a young man, only 26, who came to us with prospects from Vitesse for, by modern standards, a token fee. Willem was a shade away from developing into a fine acquisition. His most significant contribution was his display when played in a wide right position by Glenn Hoddle in our win over Manchester United in our last match of last season. His ability to score goals would have ensured a long career.
Willem has taken the disappointment with some grace and understanding and it looks as though he will re-settle his life back in Holland with his wife and family.
The highs of football came only one week later when Teddy Sheringham produced a wonderful flick to put England back into the game against Greece. We are all thankful that we will have representation in Japan-Korea in the World Cup Finals.
The barometer of standards is set by the national team. Also with so many European clubs now being such cosmopolitan outfits, the national side is the only true reflection of English football. Sven Goran Eriksson was our guest at the Manchester United game and although Teddy had no supply in the second half he realised that his subtlety and excellent touch are much needed qualities amongst the current English front players.
I watched the game in a Scandinavian bar, prior to attending another World Cup qualifying game that evening, with 50-60 English exiles. There was a tremendous atmosphere and you realised how much it meant to our pride when David Beckham scored that last-gasp equaliser? Highs and lows.
Since my last programme notes we have added one of our YTS boys to our professional staff. Paul O'Donoghue has had an outstanding 16 months and has impressed his abilities on us enough to make him a professional seven weeks before his December birthday.
He is a centre-back, a position where we look well catered for and was one of three young players who had a share of the action at Peterborough in a friendly a week last Thursday. It was a good evening. After losing an early goal we came back with some fine football to win 4-1 and the promise of forward players Yannick Kamanan and Steven Ferguson with their pace was a feature.
If they can improve other aspects of their game within the next 18 months they could challenge for the senior squad.
Matthew Etherington, returning to his old ground, had another good game and scored our fourth goal. Barry Fry, the ebullient manager of Peterborough, once again reminded everyone in the Board Room that "Pleaty stole his players." I have known Barry many years and there is no greater enthusiast, but he tends to over-exaggerate.
International representation came to several Academy boys in the last week. Ben Bowditch, Marcel McKie, Mark Hughes, Chris Herron, Jonathan Black, Philip Ifil and Nicky Eyre all went away to play for their respective countries.
Finally congratulations to John Gorman who became a grandfather for the first time and beat me to the pleasure by seven days. We've had no time yet to drink the Champagne.
Enjoy the game this evening. The players appreciate your tremendous support.