GARY MABBUTT: Vital spell for Spurs must start with victory over Villa

PUBLISHED: 14:08 11 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:22 07 September 2010

WE have a vital week coming up with three home matches in the Premier League and the Uefa Cup. First up is Aston Villa on Monday night, followed by Wisla Krakow in Europe on Thursday and then Wigan at the Lane on the Sunday. These are all matches we can w

WE have a vital week coming up with three home matches in the Premier League and the Uefa Cup. First up is Aston Villa on Monday night, followed by Wisla Krakow in Europe on Thursday and then Wigan at the Lane on the Sunday.

These are all matches we can win and a great chance to get our season up and running at last.

With the squad we've now finally assembled we should be aiming to challenge for the major honours.

Six points and a safe passage in the Uefa Cup should hopefully see us turn the corner after another poor start to a season.

After a very good pre-season we went into the league with a lot of optimism. Losing Robbie Keane to Liverpool was of course, a big blow and a disruption to the planning. But I think not many fans realised just how deep Dimitar Berbatov's desire was to leave for Manchester United. The fact it did not happen until 10 minutes before the transfer deadline was a disruption we could have done without.

I'm sure Juande Ramos would have wanted things sorted out a lot earlier. In an ideal world you want your squad sorted out four or five weeks before the start of the season, so you can plan ahead. That was not the case for Ramos and I can understand the frustration of the fans wondering why it had not been sorted out earlier.

My understanding from the club was that United offered something in the region of £20 million at the end of last season for Berba. There was nothing else until just before the transfer deadline, hence no action. Then, Manchester City showed their interest on the last day before it was eventually sorted.

So we started the season with an unsettled side. Yet, given the opening couple of fixtures - away to Middlesbrough and home to Sunderland - I was expecting at least four points from those games. Those two early defeats were huge setbacks. I fancied us to start the season the way we performed in the 1-1 draw at Chelsea in our last game.

I feel the international break has come at a good time for us. I think it will help with the new players. Hopefully, we've now got the players settled. Yet, once again there were more rumours over the weekend, this time linking our assistant coach Gus Poyet with the Newcastle job.

The game has changed so much now - contracts don't seem to mean too much. If a player really wants to move or if a club wants to move a player on, it will happen. And fans have to realise this aspect of the game has changed. There will always be rumours.

Indeed, back in my playing days, I think I was transferred 16 times in the press when in reality I stayed loyal to Tottenham.

On the field, it now all depends how well the squad gels together. We've must hope the new players settle in quickly because we need to start getting results. And of course, we need those results now.

Overall, I feel we have a decent squad. Maybe in an ideal world we did not sign players of the highest quality. The club had been chasing players such as Andrei Arshavin and I'm sure they will be looking at the situation again in the January transfer window.

It was imperative we bought another forward. Last season we had four top strikers at the club. Now, three of those have departed, leaving only Darren Bent. We've brought in Roman Pavlyuchenko and I'm hoping he can do a similar job to Berbatov when he first arrived.

Roman is not particularly well known, and he needs to settle in quickly. He's certainly got potential. But it is difficult to come from a different country and a different league for the first time and do well. It is up to the other players to help him settle in.

Spurs also needed to sign another central defender as cover for Ledley King, who can't play as often as he would like due to his injury situation.

Again it was a late signing on deadline day - Vedran Corluka from Manchester City - as was the arrival on a season's loan of young striker Fraizer Campbell from United as part of the Berbatov deal. I'd like to think we were not pushed into it.

It is ironic that just when we seemed to be building a really strong team with the likes of Luka Modric, Giovani dos Santos and David Bentley, we sold Keane and Berbatov.

It was the same back in the late 80s when when we signed Gary Lineker only to sell Chris Waddle. But now is the time to look forward and our next three games offers us a great opportunity to kick-start the season - at home and in Europe.

Gary Mabbutt was talking to Patrick Mooney.

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