Champions League: Get ready for fireworks, says Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp
The opportunity presented to Tottenham Hotspur tonight has been 49 years in the making, as manager Harry Redknapp knows only too well because he was a kid in the crowd the last time his club dined at Europe's top table.
Redknapp was a 14-year-old schoolboy on the books at Spurs when he joined the thousands to watch Tottenham's first ever European Cup tie at White Hart Lane, in which Bill Nicholson's Double-winners recorded a remarkable 8-1 demolition of Polish champions Gornik Zabreze.
His memory of the night is understandably a little sketchy. “I remember Bobby Smith battering the Polish goalkeeper and then winning by about seven,” Redknapp said yesterday.
The sentiment of that kind of football lives on in Redknapp's current team, particularly when he says he will send his team out tonight against Young Boys of Bern with the instruction to “swarm all over them from the start”.
“I wouldn't say we have to be patient, we've got to get after them,” Redknapp said. “It's important to get after them early, to set them back. We have to move the ball, play with pace, press them, put them under pressure.”
Back in 1961, the Tottenham side that night had to overcome a 4-2 deficit from the first leg; Redknapp's task is only slightly easier as his task is to come from 3-2 behind.
The objective tonight will be simply to overwhelm the unheralded Swiss side, both with the
noise inside White Hart Lane and the intensity of Tottenham's high tempo football. Redknapp recalled the special atmosphere inside the Lane when the giants of Europe came to visit in the 1961/62 season, when he saw Spurs reach the semi-finals only to lose to defending European champions Benfica.
“They were great nights, great atmospheres. We want the same European nights here,” Redknapp said.
Tottenham did the hard work last season, with victories at the end of the season over Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City that earned them fourth place. Their work seemed to have been for nought as they fell 3-0 down to the little-known Swiss side a week ago, only to fight back to 3-2.
That shock was attributed by Redknapp to the Swiss side's plastic pitch, but he accepts there will be no excuse if they fail having been given a second bite.
“I knew before game it would be a tough night. I had a feeling I don't have very often about a football match. We trained the night before and I could tell the boys weren't happy,” Redknapp said. “We went 3-0 down and you could see 4-0, 5-0, 6-0. But we got a couple of goals back and got out of jail.
“We've given ourselves a great chance.”
Meanwhile, Jermain defoe is due to undergo surgery on a groin injury next week and has “no chance” of playing in England's Euro 2012 qualifyiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland.