Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Alan Green: Doubts still exist, but Harry CAN lead Spurs to title

Harry Redknapp

Wolves’ point at White Hart Lane on Saturday absolves me of any urgent need to eat a portion of humble pie. You see I STILL have doubts about the validity of Tottenham’s title challenge.

Wolves’ point at White Hart Lane on Saturday absolves me of any urgent need to eat a portion of humble pie. You see I STILL have doubts about the validity of Tottenham’s title challenge.

Certainly their recent move up the table demands attention.

I hadn’t rated them that seriously but they’re unquestionably part of a breakaway group of three now and their run of just one defeat in 19 league games cannot be ignored.

The question is: are they ‘up’ to either or both of the Manchester clubs?

We all know United have the required experience whereas City have the depth of squad and money — Roberto Mancini really must stop moaning about injuries and absentees. Where I’m prepared to reassess is in too readily dismissing Sir Alex’s comment about Spurs playing the “best football” at the moment. Perhaps it wasn’t just ‘mind games’.

That’s an area Harry Redknapp doesn’t particularly enjoy not least because it’s contrary to his character: Redknapp calls a spade a spade. And his team’s football reflects that too. There’s an innocence about the way Tottenham play, a joy. Here’s a ball guys: go out there and do what comes naturally.

Don’t misunderstand: ‘tactics’ come into it and there’s no denying the behind-the-scenes influence of coaches Joe Jordan and Kevin Bond. So, perhaps, it’s ‘simplicity’ rather than ‘innocence’ that defines Spurs and it’s certainly not complicated harnessing the technical accomplishments of such players as Scott Parker and Luka Modric to the electrifying pace of Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale to produce that magic midfield.

Bale is a wonderful example of the impact made by Redknapp at White Hart Lane. It’s all too easy to forget that the summer before last saw people wonder if the Welshman might have to go out on loan somewhere: yes, really. Since then, Bale has progressed in a stunning manner. Those incredible Champions League performances were not a flash in the pan after all. No wonder Barcelona want him.

The question that remains in my mind, that makes me concerned about their credentials, is about mental strength i.e. do they have it? Saturday may have been a blip but it was worrying it arrived just as they were poised to join City and United at the top. You have to feel that Spurs’ next game, away at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, will have a huge psychological as well as physical impact on their chances. Given City’s current wobble, Tottenham should go there thinking at least a point isn’t beyond them.

Then, in league terms — remember there are no ‘European’ distractions for them — it’s Wigan (h), Liverpool (a), Newcastle (h), Arsenal (a) and Manchester United (h): all bar one are ‘testing’ but, on current form, unlikely to frighten Spurs.

It’s over twenty years since they last finished in the top three when Gary Mabbutt, Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker were around. Maybe, in the view of the club’s fans, finishing above Arsenal is what matters most and who’d bet against that? But why shouldn’t they dare to dream?

Redknapp himself says that finishing above Manchester United would be “beyond our wildest dreams.” The reality is that finishing above Sir Alex’s side normally equates to winning the title.

Tottenham, Champions?

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