MABBUTT: Spurs must build on cup success and overtake Arsenal

WINNING the Carling Cup was undoubtedly the highlight of the season. Yet, although it was great to win silverware, we can t gloss over the fact that we finished a lowly 11th in the Premier League. At the start of the season, we had high expectations of

WINNING the Carling Cup was undoubtedly the highlight of the season. Yet, although it was great to win silverware, we can't gloss over the fact that we finished a lowly 11th in the Premier League.

At the start of the season, we had high expectations of finishing in the top four. Perhaps, we were being unrealisitic. Maybe we were looking at Arsenal and seeing they had lost Thierry Henry and we were hoping to displace them. But we had a disappointing start to the season, which ended with Martin Jol's departure.

Martin had two very good years. Back to back fifth places saw us return to Europe. However, there was a feeling that he was not the manager to lead the club forward and Juande Ramos came in.

And for the first time in nearly 10 years we won silverware. The performances against Arsenal and Chelsea in the Carling Cup were excellent. We outfought them and we outplayed them. We beat two of the big four.


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Yet, our finish in the league was poor. I don't think I've seen one decent home performance since winning the Carling Cup. There were just too many disappointing games.

It is going to be a very important summer for Ramos. There are several players who will not be at the club next season. Ramos made his mind up well before the end of the season which players he was going to sell and which players he is likely to buy.

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Obviously, one of those players who could be leaving is Dimitar Berbatov. He is an excellent player and the type of player you want to keep for the club to challenge for the top four.

But you also have to look at it from the player's viewpoint. Berbatov wants to play Champions League football. And with Spurs finishing 11th it is difficult to persuade him that is going to happen at the Lane next season. It is a concern that Berby may not be here next season.

This season we've seen Everton push Liverpool all the way for that fourth spot, and next season I want to see us pushing Arsenal or Liverpool in a similar fashion. A club like Spurs should be challenging for the top four.

Undoubtedly, we will get big money for Berby, perhaps in the region of £25-30million. But we need to bring in players of a similar quality. Ramos has already made an excellent signing in the Croatian Luka Modric for next season. He's a playmaker and a Tottenham-style player.

Alan Hutton and Jonathan Woodgate are also excellent signings and having Gareth Bale back fit for the start of next season is like having a new player.

We need more players of the highest quality, particularly two top goalkeepers as both Paul Robinson and Radek Cerny look like moving on.

As I said it is going to be an important season for Ramos - and the club. It will be his team. Ramos took over in midstream and now he must mould his own team - a team good enough to compete for a top four spot.

Gary Mabbutt was

taking to sports editor

Patrick Mooney

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