MIKE McKINLEY: Juande's Midas touch can bring Spurs the Carling Cup

History was kind to me, and I started as a regular Spurs-goer just before Wembley became our second home for a few years in the early 1980s. And as a wide-eyed and over-excited schoolboy I was there to experience thrills and joy at moments like Ricky Vil

History was kind to me, and I started as a regular Spurs-goer just before Wembley became our second home for a few years in the early 1980s.

And as a wide-eyed and over-excited schoolboy I was there to experience thrills and joy at moments like Ricky Villa's piece of magic to win the FA Cup against Manchester City.

In theory, I should be older, wiser and a bit more laid-back about the whole thing, but that doesn't quite square with the little shiver that goes up my spine thinking about walking up Wembley Way once again towards the shiny new stadium with the famous old name.

Back in 1991 we beat Arsenal in the semi-final, and in a way the day we went on to lift the cup felt a bit of an anti-climax after the euphoria of that win.


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And then, of course, more recently we pulled out a 5-1 win over Chelsea to take us to Cardiff in this competition, and that, as we all know, went horribly wrong.

So history suggests we shouldn't really be expecting a great day out for the final, especially with Chelsea getting their squad back to full fitness in the nick of time.

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Yes, we'll go in as the underdogs, but there's no reason why we shouldn't have a great chance to lift the cup.

One of the main reasons will be the man leading the team out.

When he arrived in the autumn things didn't look too rosy, with us stuttering, to put it mildly, and thinking more about trapdoors than cup finals.

But Juande Ramos has made a habit of collecting silverware over the past couple of years, and he can open his English account in record time.

The changes on the pitch have been fairly subtle, but none theless pronounced.

Clearly the team are fitter, leaner and hungrier - thanks to the notorious "baby food" diet that must have come as a huge shock to one or two. We're also starting to see more of his football philosophy come through, and in the Arsenal semi-final we produced some blistering pacy counters that must have even had the opposition bench looking on in envy.

But what we've really seen is the ability to compete with the best, as shown against Man United recently. He has the tools at his disposal, so it's about performing to our potential on the day. If we do it should be more silverware for Juande.

And we might then even see a smile from him.

MIKE McKINLEY writes regularly for the Ham&High on the issues that matter to Spurs fans everywhere

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