Spurs defender reflects on the damaging defeat against Norwich
12:15 10 April 2012
Ryan Nelsen has denied that Tottenham have been overcome by nerves after the latest setback in their struggle for Champions League qualification.
Having won just one of their previous seven top-flight fixtures, Spurs desperately needed to bank all three points against Norwich at White Hart Lane yesterday – but instead they suffered a disastrous home defeat.
With Newcastle beating Bolton, the Lilywhites now find themselves level on points with the Magpies – and Chelsea are just two points behind after their draw at Craven Cottage last night.
That three-way fight for fourth spot seemed unlikely when Harry Redknapp’s side were sitting so comfortably in third, 10 points ahead of Arsenal, on February 25.
But Nelsen insists that Tottenham are “focused and motivated” on winning the battle all over again as they eye the decisive run-in.
“Obviously we’re extremely disappointed, we really wanted to win this game, but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve got a massive game on Sunday [against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final] and we know that we have to get up for it,” he said.
“There’s a lot of experience in this team. I can’t see nerves being an issue at all. The results haven’t been great, but we have been playing well and sometimes you just don’t get the rub of the green.
“The Premier League’s a very humbling place. You’ve got to be firing on all cylinders no matter who you play against, and that’s why it’s the best league in the world.
“We had our chances against Norwich, and if a couple of them had gone in it could have been a whole different game - but we’re not feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ve got a lot of experience, we’re motivated, we’re focused and we know what we’ve got to do.
“It’s in our own hands, we’ve got five games left and we’re not worried about what any of the other clubs do. We just have to take care of our business ourselves, and focus on what we need to do.”
Tottenham’s problems were exacerbated by yesterday’s injury to Younes Kaboul, who was replaced by Nelsen shortly before half-time.
With Michael Dawson out for the season and Ledley King and William Gallas struggling to play successive games, Nelsen could become a central player in the climax of Spurs’ campaign - and the 34-year-old is relishing the pressure.
“That’s why I was brought in, to help out if situations arise like that,” he said. “We’ve got a squad of 25 players, and every one of them will be needed at some stage in the rest of the season. It’s really important and I’m looking forward to it.
“At Blackburn in the last couple of seasons we were playing to avoid relegation, and that’s a huge amount of pressure - and this is pressure to win. It’s the same pressure, but a different kind.
“But this is the Premier League - everything you do is pressure and it’s enjoyable. These next five games are really going to be exciting for everyone in the league.
“Everybody’s just looking forward to the next game, and I think a lot of us will want to put this defeat right at the weekend. We know what we’ve got to do and we’re focused on that - we just need to win games.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs