Wembley factor can help Tottenham win FA Cup, says Vertonghen
Belgian hoping for repeat of January’s 2-0 win over United ahead of semi-final clash
Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen in action with Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne earlier this month. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters
Jan Vertonghen believes Tottenham can benefit from their familiarity with Wembley in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United. The London club struggled initially at their temporary home for the season but they have since found their bearings and their overall record there is good.
In all competitions it reads: W17 D4 L4. One of the victories came against United in the Premier League on January 31st, when Christian Eriksen scored after 11 seconds. The game finished 2-0, with the second goal going in off United defender Phil Jones. The scoreline flattered United and Vertonghen believes the comprehensive nature of that performance can also be a factor.
“Wembley is definitely not a disadvantage,” Vertonghen said. “We’re used to it now, even if the atmosphere will be a bit different because United will bring more supporters than usual.
“We feel very comfortable at Wembley, we’ve shown that over the last couple of months – not against Manchester City [in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat] but before that we felt very comfortable. Hopefully we can have the same game as at the beginning of this year when we beat United in a very positive way.”
The Wembley factor stands to be one of the numerous subplots, with Mauricio Pochettino commenting recently on how Tottenham had turned around their fortunes at the stadium. “The perception and the feeling seven months ago was horrendous,” the manager said. “Now it is seen as an advantage.”
Vertonghen says Tottenham must approach the tie in the same way they would a league game at Wembley. “We want to dominate, we want to entertain the crowd and play in a very positive way,” he said. “We have to play in a very entertaining way.
“This team and club deserves a trophy for all the work we’ve put in and we hope Saturday can be the next step. When I won my first trophy [at Ajax] , the next couple followed at a very quick tempo. You just need that belief you can do it and then they will come. We’re full of confidence we can do it.”
Meanwhile, Joey Barton will take over as head coach of Fleetwood Town on June 2nd, when his suspension for breaking English FA betting rules expires.
It will be the controversial former England midfielder’s first job in management. The 35-year-old, who did his coaching badges some years ago, has agreed a three-year contract with the League One club.
“I’m very excited by the challenge and the project at Fleetwood Town,” Barton, who will succeed former Republic of Ireland international John Sheridan, said on the club website. “It’s a club I’ve known for a long time and a chairman I already have a very good relationship with.
“My first job in management was always going to be a big decision for me and I’m delighted with the opportunity ahead, I’m joining a club with big ambitions. I’m looking forward to getting started on June 2.”
Barton was banned for placing bets on 1,260 football matches or competitions from 2006 to 2016. He was initially suspended for 18 months but that was reduced to 13 months on appeal.
Fleetwood’s chairman, Andy Pilley, said: “This is a huge appointment for Fleetwood Town Football Club and one I’m very excited about. Joey not only brings a host of experience and profile, but I also feel he has the potential to become one of the best in the new generation of coaches.”
Barton was playing for Burnley when he was banned. His previous clubs also include Manchester City, Newcastle and Marseille.