Reaching Europe will ease Cup pain, says Carrick

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The Independent Football

Tottenham Hotspur were involved in yesterday's draw for the fourth round of the FA Cup, but only because Steve Perryman, a great Spurs stalwart, helped make it. As the shock of their exit at Leicester sunk in, Michael Carrick admitted the players had "let down" the club - and pledged to atone by striving for a Champions' League place.

The former West Ham midfielder and his colleagues saw a 2-0 advantage turn into a 3-2 defeat by a side lying 21st in the Championship. Carrick's initial reaction echoed the disappointment of Tottenham's 5,000 travelling fans. "We're out," he said, "and I don't think anything we achieve is going to make up for that."

Carrick, 24, dismissed the idea that certain players and the head coach, the Dutchman Martin Jol, may not have understood Spurs' traditions in the Cup. "The lads are fully aware of what it means to this club. The gaffer made us aware before the game. We just didn't play well in the second half and paid the price. Everyone knows we have let the club down.

"Our supporters turned out in their thousands to back us. They were looking for us to get to Wembley, but it is not to be. They were magnificent - even when it went to 2-2 they were singing about the Cup and we are disappointed to have let them down."

Spurs' frustration was all the more acute because of their improved form this season. As Carrick said: "We've been playing well and our position in the Premiership (fourth) speaks for itself. We wanted a Cup run. But if we get into Europe it will still be a good season. We have to look to the league and finish in the European places, either in the Champions' League or the Uefa Cup. That would show we were at least going in the right direction and be an improvement on last year."

The Leicester manager, Craig Levein, hoped the victory would prove a "turning point" in the season and his 15-month reign. After five defeats and two draws since the start of December, his position had been subject to speculation. But the Scot showed tactical acumen in sending on a striker for a midfielder as early as the 35th minute, shortly before they went 2-0 down.

The substitute, Elvis Hammond, promptly scored, and there was further vindication for Levein as two players he brought from Scotland, Stephen Hughes and Mark De Vries, struck the goals that sent the home crowd into dreamland.

However, it was business as usual yesterday, with the Walsall striker, Matty Fryatt, completing a £750,000 move to Leicester.