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GARY MABBUTT: Premiership survival is the bottom line for Spurs

PUBLISHED: 10:47 02 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:54 07 September 2010

AFTER the ups and downs of our continuing Premier League dogfight reaching Wembley again in the Carling Cup is a big relief. Make no mistake we were lucky to overcome Burnley in last week s semi-final second leg. The Championship club again showed what a

AFTER the ups and downs of our continuing Premier League dogfight reaching Wembley again in the Carling Cup is a big relief.

Make no mistake we were lucky to overcome Burnley in last week's semi-final second leg. The Championship club again showed what a good side they are, having knocked out Fulham, Chelsea and Arsenal on the way to the semis.

We got there in the end, mainly thanks to an excellent 25-minute spell in the second half of the first leg at the Lane. Last week's second leg was tough and our new strike force of Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermain Defoe came good when Burnley started to tire in the extra-time.

It's good to be back at Wembley and we have an exciting day out to look forward to against Manchester United on March 1.

But Premier League survival has to be our main priority. Tottenham need to be in the Premier League to survive as a club - we can't afford to be a Championship side.

At the moment we are one of 10-12 teams involved in a relegation dogfight. We went into the Portsmouth game bottom and the point not only took us off last spot but moved us up five places on goal difference.

Yet, as I've said many times, I believe in the continuity of the team - not chopping and changing selection for cup competitions. I feel that doing well in the cups can only benefit the team's displays in our relegation battle.

Yes, there are times - suspensions and injuries - when you have to change things. But I don't believe in resting players. Players want to play in the big games.

I'm sure the board will continue to back Harry Redknapp with the resources to make sure we stay in the top flight. And so far in the January transfer window, Harry has bought well, bringing back Defoe, beating off Manchester City to land Wigan's midfielder Wilson Palacios and, on Monday, signing Carlo Cudicini from Chelsea and another old boy, Pascal Chimbonda.

We know all about Defoe's qualities and he will enhance our strike force - as he did on Tuesday night. He did not celebrate when he scored for Portsmouth against us - his heart is at the Lane.

Palacios has the potential to be the missing link in our midfield. We've said that about several players but he is difficult to play against and has done well in his short time in the Premier League.

But the main area that had to be addressed was that of goalkeeper. We saw against Burnley when Harry was forced to hand young Ben Alnwick his debut the need for having two top keepers pushing each other every week.

Goalkeeper is one of the most important positions in a team. Clubs have no problem spending £20m or £30million on a top striker but are loath to splash the cash on a top keeper. I feel Cudicini is an excellent signing for us. The goalkeeping position has been a concern for a while and despite Heurelho Gomes's recent displays it is necessary to have stiff competition for the No.1 jersey - and Cudicini will provide that.

He has proved an excellent signing for Chelsea and has served them extremely well and loyally. Hopefully, he will provide the same for us and the competition will bring out the best in both keepers. I also feel Spurs fans will have no problem with him coming from Chelsea.

We also need another centre-half, someone like Matthew Upson, but Chimbonda's arrival will strengthen the squad.

It seems like we are playing two parallel seasons - doing well in the cups and struggling in the league. But, that has been our history - the story of Spurs. It was certainly the case during my 16 years at the club. It was frustrating that third was our highest ever finish and we never really challenged for the title. We've always been seen as a cup team. Now, it is different - the aim is a top-four finish.

But the bottom line is the need to be in the Premier League. The priority has to be Premier League survival. Anything else, like winning a cup, is a bonus.

Gary Mabbutt was talking

to Patrick Mooney


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