Harry Let Them Loose
THEY have taken the Champions League by storm this season and gung-ho, free-scoring Tottenham will continue to believe attack is the best form of defence, fearing no one when they proudly join the elite for the last-16 draw in Switzerland today.
“He gives the players confidence and the freedom to go out and express themselves. Then you walk up the tunnel, look at our team and you think, ‘Blimey, we haven’t half got some good players in it, we’ll give anyone a game’.
“I don’t get overly anxious about the fact we’re not going to win or we’re going to let goals in, because you look at the attacking flair in our team and there are goals from all over.
“I don’t see any fear in anyone’s demeanour or body language when we play Champions League football.
“The players certainly look forward to it and the manager has always been positive.”
This is where it starts to get harder and harder. But who do Tottenham – who have second-leg home advantage, and announced their potential and pedigree by overwhelming Inter 3-1 at White Hart Lane, prefer to play next?
Parks said: “If, for instance, it was FC Copenhagen, I don’t particularly see them being the easier draw, as they gave Barcelona a good run for their money in the group stages.
“And they are probably a little like us, not so well known on the Champions League scene and relishing the prospect of going out and playing some top teams. I see them as dangerous, along with everyone else. But I’m not that sure there would be too many teams in that little group who would want to draw Tottenham Hotspur at the moment either.
“AC Milan are flying along in their league, but I don’t think we’ve been seriously fazed by the name. We’ve gone out and let teams worry about us.
“It’s OK watching games and DVDs of your opposition. But, for instance, when you had Maicon against Gareth Bale, afterwards Maicon probably thought ‘they never told me he was that good’. I believe we have a really good mixture of flowing, attacking, goal-scoring football that is going to do well for us in the next round as well.
“We are famous for cup football and there’s no reason that can’t continue in the Champions League. I fancy us over two games against anyone.
“Although many people from outside the club would look at it and say, ‘Yes, you’ve exceeded expectations, because no one thought you would get through, especially as group winners.’
“But, all the time that’s going on, the confidence is building and the players are starting to believe we can play as a team in this competition. Hearing that Champions League music and visiting stadiums like the San Siro is special.
“And the ride it takes you on makes you want to stay there for as long as you possibly can.”
Parks added: “The manager, all the coaching staff, would like more clean sheets.
“But, by the nature of the way Tottenham have played over the last 18 months to two years, it is a very attack-minded team.”
It has been a breath of fresh air and the Champions League wouldn’t have it any other way.