Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Figueroa leaves Spurs in relegation zone

Wigan Athletic 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0

A day of reckoning for Harry Redknapp. Three away games, three late goals, three defeats and third from bottom of the Premier League and the Tottenham manager has had enough.

"They got the club in this position," he said of his under-performing squad, the frustration and anger all too evident. "It is up to them to get the club out of it. Two points from eight games when I came here and that is pretty scary."





It is pretty scary still for Spurs, even if they have accumulated another 18 points since then. Interestingly, Redknapp reeled off a list – albeit a short one – of "men" he could count on: Ledley King, Michael Dawson, Jonathan Woodgate, Jamie O'Hara, Didier Zokora. The inference was pretty clear about the rest of what he inherited and a glance at the bench, which included under-performers such as David Bentley, told its own story. Redknapp also hauled off Roman Pavlyuchenko and Luka Modric and only used Darren Bent as a substitute.



That is a lot of millions of misfiring talent. However, as Redknapp pointed out, they are a certain type of player and it is not the type he needs on a cold, unforgiving afternoon in Wigan against the Premier League's form team who, even their manager Steve Bruce admitted, are big and powerful and are not adverse to "lumping" the ball forward at times.



Redknapp will have hoped this was going to be an occasion when Jermain Defoe made the headlines, maintaining that exceptional record of always scoring on his debut. But one puckish piece of skill in the first half apart, when he cleverly teed up Zokora, he did little, cutting as irritated a figure as his manager and coaching staff. Neither Redknapp nor his assistants, Joe Jordan and Kevin Bond, sat. Instead they watched, bewildered in their technical area.



No more so than with Wigan's injury-time goal. Spurs had lost Dawson by then, helped off appearing to suffer from concussion after being caught, accidentally, by Emile Heskey with his elbow, and Gareth Bale conceded a corner. Ryan Taylor took it and Jermaine Jenas woefully failed to deal with Maynor Figueroa who simply stepped back to head past Heurelho Gomes. "A bit like Jackie Charlton," said Bruce afterwards, "when I told him that he looked at me a bit strangely." It was the first goal the Honduran full-back, who has recently completed a permanent £1.5m move from Deportivo Olimpia, has scored for Wigan.



Transfer deals are occupying both these managers at present and while Bruce has his fingers crossed that a work permit can be obtained today for his new £4.5m striker, the Columbian Hugo Rodallega, he is also claiming it would only be "a big fat cheque" that could possibly tempt Wigan to cash in on Heskey, Amr Zaki, Wilson Palacios or Antonio Valencia. "For me to spend £4.5m – Jesus," Bruce said. "But the big thing is to hold on to what we have got." And why not? Wigan are on fire, six league wins in seven, and eating up a little ground on sixth-placed Everton for a Uefa Cup place.



Spurs are in that competition, of course, but it has been an irritant for Redknapp. He downplayed his prospects of spending more than the £15m he has parted with this month on Defoe in strengthening his squad but there is no doubt he will try. He feels he has to – with what he's got – and there was another clear swipe at reserve goalkeeper Cesar Sanchez with Redknapp preferring not to replace Gomes even though he appeared injured.



He shored up matters by playing King in front of the defence and a narrow midfield. Both managers agreed "it had 0-0 written all over it", although Zaki had other ideas, glancing a header wide and smartly turning Dawson to tee up Heskey. He also should have done better himself when given a clear sight of goal, but hesitated and Woodgate blocked.



As the game rumbled on, the number of chances diminished. Wigan eventually rallied and went for the win with the strikers wasting three headed chances before Figueroa, to Redknapp's disgust and Bruce's elation, showed them how to finish at the finish.



Goal: Figueroa (90) 1-0.



Wigan Athletic (4-4-2): Kirkland; Melchiot, Scharner, Bramble, Figueroa; Valencia, Palacios, Cattermole, Taylor; Heskey, Zaki. Substitutes not used: Pollitt (gk), Edman, Kilbane, Brown, Boyce, De Ridder, Camara.



Tottenham Hotspur (4-1-2-1-2): Gomes; Corluka, Dawson (Jenas, 79), Woodgate, Bale; King; Zokora, O'Hara; Modric (Lennon, 58); Pavlyuchenko (Bent, 53), Defoe. Substitutes not used: Cesar (gk), Bentley, Huddlestone, Campbell.



Referee: A Marriner (West Midlands).



Booked: Wigan Valencia, Palacios, Scharner; Tottenham Bale, Zokora, Woodgate.



Man of the match: Palacios.



Attendance: 17,544.



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