Kranjcar: I've had a week to forget!
NIKO Kranjcar admits that he is keen to forget the first few days of his Tottenham career, with his debut defeat against Manchester United following hot on the heals of Croatia s 5-1 mauling by England at Wembley...
By Ben Pearce
NIKO Kranjcar admits that he is keen to forget the first few days of his Tottenham career, with his debut defeat against Manchester United following hot on the heals of Croatia's 5-1 mauling by England at Wembley.
The 25-year-old joined the Lilywhites for �2.5million on the final day of the summer transfer window, but had to wait until the weekend to appear for Spurs due to the international break.
Unfortunately for Tottenham's new midfielder, that fortnight with Croatia ended dismally, as Fabio Capello's Three Lions sealed their place at next summer's World Cup in style.
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A demoralised Kranjcar left Wembley to join up with his new team-mates at Spurs Lodge. But, after coming on as a second-half substitute against United at White Hart Lane, he had to endure another defeat as Sir Alex Ferguson's champions ran out 3-1 winners.
However, as he tries to bounce back again, Kranjcar believes that Tottenham's relation to United can only really be judged at the end of the campaign.
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"I want to forget that week as quickly as possible," said Kranjcar. "I had just one day's training [at Spurs] and of course it's not the start I wanted.
"We will see towards the end of the season how big the gap is [between Spurs and United]. I think one game won't and can't tell the difference, so we have to keep on working hard and believing in ourselves and try to get as close as we can to them."
After suffering at the hands of England last Wednesday, Kranjcar will have bitter memories of facing John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole.
Regrettably, just 11 days on, they are his next opponents as Tottenham travel to Chelsea on Sunday for another meeting with a 'Big Four' Premier League heavyweight.
However, the ex-Portsmouth man is looking ahead positively, and he is now hoping to compete at the top end of England's top flight after quitting his struggling former team on the south coast.
"Everyone is talking about the top four, but we can only take each game as it comes and hopefully we can achieve that towards the end of the season," he said.
"Can we finish in or around the top six? We all believe that we have the players to achieve that, and hopefully we can finish higher than that.
"I think we have a lot of players who have experience in the big games and know what it takes to be up there, and defeat in one game is not enough to discourage us."
Kranjcar is the third ex-Pompey player to quit the south coast for Spurs in 2009, following Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch.
The Croatian also joins fellow internationals Vedran Corluka and Luka Modric in N17, and he is particularly hoping to team up with Modric when his friend returns from injury.
"Of course when you come to a new club and you know four or five of the players and they are good friends it is easier - you know how they operate," said Kranjcar. "Luka is a fantastic footballer. I think every single team without him has a great loss. I am looking forward to playing with him, and I think we work great as a partnership in the midfield."
Things may be looking up for Kranjcar, but he is not out of the woods just yet.
Peter Crouch said: "We're pleased we signed Niko because he is an extra one to rib. We've been giving them [the Croatians] stick and rightly so. They were giving us quite a bit, I remember, Niko at Portsmouth when they beat us, so it's nice to get our own back.