- Premier League
Verthonghen: Don't write Tottenham off yet
Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen has urged critics of his team and manager Andre Villas-Boas to hold fire before dismissing Spurs as no-hopers in the race for honours this season.
A home defeat to Wigan, a narrow loss away to Manchester City and last weekend's thumping 5-2 reverse against Arsenal in the North London derby have put Tottenham on the back foot ahead of Sunday's Premier League game against West Ham.
But Vertonghen is eager to remind the doubters that these are still early days in the Villas-Boas era at White Hart Lane.
"Some results haven't gone our way, but people need to appreciate the situation here before being too critical," the Belgian centre-back told the official matchday programme for the West Ham game.
"The squad is very strong and confident, but we are still finding our feet. We have a completely new coaching team and, of course, a new head coach. We have quite a few new players who have come into the group and since the beginning of the season, we have missed five or six top-class players through injury, which even the best teams would have found difficult to cope with.
"Mousa [Dembele], Benoit [Assou Ekotto], Younes [Kaboul], Scott [Parker] and Ade [Emmanuel Adebayor] have all been out at times, yet despite all of that we have had some great results, played some very good football at times and I think we have a lot to be optimistic about."
Vertonghen has been one of the big hits of Tottenham's season after making his summer move from Ajax, but central defensive partner and club captain William Gallas has appeared a weak link in the armoury for Villas-Boas.
Michael Dawson is pushing for a return to the starting-up line-up for the visit of West Ham, but Vertonghen insists the team that have floundered in the last couple of games deserve the chance to rediscover the winning touch they displayed in their fine win against Manchester United at Old Trafford in September.
"I really feel that we have shown against Manchester United and in spells in other matches, especially the first half against City and the opening 20 minutes against Arsenal, that we have a very strong team and we can beat anyone on our day," Vertonghen said.
"Obviously we want to do well this season and I'm confident we still will, but it's not just about this season. The club has invested in new players and a fantastic new training centre, plus we have some really talented youngsters here.
"We are putting things in place for the future and I'm sure we will be regularly competing to finish in the top three or four, maybe higher, who knows? What I do know is that I'm optimistic for the future and I'm really happy to have made the decision to sign for Spurs."