The Tottenham and Ireland legend reviews the start to Spurs' season and looks ahead to Ireland's next Euro 2024 qualifiers.
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North London Derby
I thought Tottenham played really well at Arsenal on Sunday. To go a goal down and have the resilience to come back is impressive, let alone do it twice.
I thought they were always in the game, though, despite going behind twice.
They were under pressure at times in the game because Arsenal are a very good side, and that will happen when you play good sides. Arsenal tend to have a lot of possession and keep the ball well, so any performance against them requires a high level of concentration.
To have that strength to fight back twice in the game and hang in there when other teams might have crumbled, including previous Tottenham sides, was testament to where they are now and how much they have improved.
I think Ange Postecoglou’s management has a lot to do with that mentality, all you have to do is look at the way he speaks and carries himself. He’s so positive and that’s reflected in the way his team is playing.
It’s completely different to last season, we’re much more on the front foot and looking to make things happen. It feels like there’s a lot more energy in the team, which probably shouldn’t be a surprise because Postecoglou had that effect when he went to Celtic.
Tottenham are in much better shape now compared to last season. The way they’re playing football is much more positive and the fans have bought into that as well, which is important. Tottenham fans like the players to play a certain way and Postecoglou’s style of football is certainly suiting that.
Tottenham’s fans are great, and once you get them behind you it’s massive. The players, fans and whole place just seems to be in a much more positive frame of mind, and I couldn’t be happier for them.
It’s incredible that he’s brought the feel-good factor back to Tottenham in such a short space of time. They’re still unbeaten and I think it’s important as a new manager not to lose your first North London Derby.
No Kane, no problem
Harry Kane leaving was obviously a blow. He’s someone who would always get between 20 and 30 goals a season, and that’s difficult to replace.
But the extra positivity from all over the pitch is going some way to levelling that out. When perhaps there might have been a reliance on Kane before, every player has taken some of that responsibility on and it’s working well.
The recruitment has contributed to that as well. James Maddison in particular has been huge since coming in.
I think he’s just been brilliant so far this season and you can see he’s already developing an understanding with Son Heung-min. That was evident during the Arsenal game, with Maddison assisting both of Son’s goals.
He suits the way Tottenham play and to have got him for £40m is an absolute bargain. The fans have already taken to him as well and he seems like a great personality, so I can’t pick any faults.
Spurs v Liverpool
Looking ahead to the Liverpool game, it’s always a tough game playing against them. They get after teams and play in a similar way to Spurs.
They don’t have as much possession as Arsenal like to have, but when you have players like Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz, you’ve always got a chance of winning any game.
I think it’ll be a tough game for Spurs, but a really good one to watch. It’ll be two teams going for it.
Even if they manage to get three points against Liverpool, it’s still early doors in the season. It’s good to see fans being ambitious, but I don’t think we can judge any team on where they might finish or if they can mount a title challenge yet.
I think for Tottenham to finish in the top four would be a huge step for the club and the manager, so let’s think about that first.
They haven’t won a trophy for a long time, so I think that’s the challenge. In terms of the title race, I think Manchester City are still the favourites with Arsenal and Liverpool challenging. It’s not impossible for Tottenham to challenge, but I think it might be a stretch too far at this moment.
My prediction for the Liverpool game is that there will be goals. It should be exciting. If I had to go for a score, I’d say 2-2 and sit on the fence.
Evan Ferguson is so important for Ireland’s future
There are more international games coming up in October, but it’s unfortunately looking like Ireland aren’t going to qualify for Euro 2024. Given how the group is and the permutations required, I think they need a miracle to be honest.
It hasn’t gone the way we would have liked, but as long as there are games left there is a bit of hope. It’s important to win as many games as possible.
Ireland shouldn’t be hard on themselves, though. In a group with France and the Netherlands, it was going to be tough. With the quality they have in their squad, they were going to be up against it in the last game against the Netherlands.
My hopes for the rest of the campaign are that we get a bit of momentum back, win as many of our remaining games as we can and see where it takes us.
Looking further ahead, the development of Evan Ferguson is huge for the country. He’s playing at the highest level and is getting goals as well. For the future of Ireland, he’s very important.
I’ve spoken a lot about him before, but I’ve been very impressed with him. He’s playing in a good team at Brighton with a top manager in Roberto De Zerbi. He’s always going to get chances in that set-up, and it’s been pleasing to see him succeed so far this season.
It’s so important for young players to play as much as they can and get more exposure to first-team football. The more that happens, the more comfortable you get with it.
He looks very comfortable when he’s on the pitch and he’s scoring goals as well, which is obviously important for any striker.
Let’s hope it leads to a long career with the Irish national team, along with many goals.