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Tottenham’s Danny Rose: playing at Wembley no longer feels like an honour

The Guardian logo The Guardian 06/12/2018 David Hytner
a man holding a football ball on a field: Danny Rose said after the game against Southampton: ‘Wednesday was the lowest attendance since we’ve been at Wembley. That speaks volumes.’ © BPI/Rex/Shutterstock Danny Rose said after the game against Southampton: ‘Wednesday was the lowest attendance since we’ve been at Wembley. That speaks volumes.’

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Danny Rose says it is no longer an honour to play at Wembley, as he laid bare the frustration that he and his Tottenham teammates feel about the club’s delayed new stadium build and their unsatisfactory stop-gap accommodation.

Spurs have announced that they will continue to play their home matches at Wembley until at least the end of December – with the suggestion being it could be February before they get into the rebuilt White Hart Lane – and there was a low point on Wednesday night when only 33,012 turned up to see them beat Southampton 3-1 in the Premier League.

The club’s previous lowest league attendance at Wembley had been the 43,268 against Cardiff in October. Mauricio Pochettino has said the national stadium can seem empty when it has 50-60,000 inside and against Southampton it was almost eerie at times.

There were plenty of empty seats as Spurs cruised past Southampton © Getty Images There were plenty of empty seats as Spurs cruised past Southampton “It’s just not nice any more,” Rose said. “It’s lost its … I don’t feel it’s an honour to play at Wembley. We’re all itching to get in the new stadium and hopefully it’s not too much longer.

“We’re disappointed it’s taken longer than expected but we know everybody is putting in the hours to make sure the stadium is as good as possible. It’s not that much longer now, so hopefully over the next couple of months we’re going to be in there …

“What’s Wembley lost? The atmosphere is a bit flat. I obviously sympathise with the fans, travelling further to come to Wembley, but Wednesday was the lowest attendance since we’ve been at Wembley. That speaks volumes.”

Rose made his first start in two months against Southampton, having recovered from a groin injury that took much longer to heal than expected, and he will be needed as the club remain mired in an unforgiving run of fixtures. They will play nine further matches by 5 January.

They visit Leicester in the league on Saturday night before going to Barcelona for Tuesday’s make-or-break Champions League group tie.

“We’ve shown we have the character to win at Barcelona, 100%,” Rose said. “That’s a great testament to the manager and the players to take it to the last game. The manager is more confident than anyone that we can go there and get a result. So are we. We’re going to make sure we take it to the last minute and hopefully we can progress. It’s a massive, massive game. It’ll be the biggest of the season.”

Spurs also have the Carabao Cup quarter-final at Arsenal looming on 19 December, which will provide an early opportunity for revenge after last Sunday’s 4-2 league defeat at the Emirates Stadium. Rose came on as a late substitute in a passionate derby which featured a mass confrontation after Eric Dier’s equaliser for 1-1. Arsenal’s celebratory social media posts afterwards were another talking point.

“Me seeing the Arsenal players do that after the game was obviously frustrating and I’m already looking forward to the reverse fixture when we get them at Wembley or the new stadium,” Rose said of the home derby, scheduled for 2 March. “We’ve also got the quarter-final and we’ll be looking to put the result right from the weekend. That’ll be the first chance to win a trophy if we get through that.

“I know there were a lot of opinions about Eric’s celebration but that’s what derbies are all about. When we’ve played at the Emirates before, the atmosphere has not been like that. It’s special. As long as we conduct ourselves in a professional manner, I don’t see anything wrong with what happened.

“It’s obviously frustrating when you lose and you see selfies and pictures from the changing room being uploaded but there’s our incentive. It shows how far we’ve come in recent years that it looked like it meant a lot to them to get a win over us.”

Gallery: Sports photos of 2018 (Microsoft GES)


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