Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Hot Spurs mean to be offensive

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp gives his instructions during training
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp gives his instructions during training

Harry Redknapp promised last night that his Tottenham Hotspur team would not change their philosophy of attacking football that has made for such thrilling progress in the Champions League when they face AC Milan in the first leg of their knockout round tie at the San Siro tonight.

Returning to the stage of their comeback against Milan's neighbours Internazionale in October, when Gareth Bale's superb second-half hat-trick took them within a whisker of a draw in what would have been remarkable comeback.

There will be no Bale in the side tonight, his back injury prevented him from travelling yesterday, but Redknapp said that he would not ask his players to approach the game any differently.

Redknapp said: “We have not got the players to come here and shut up shop, we are an attacking team and that is how I like it.

“Whoever I play, Aaron Lennon, Rafa Van der Vaart, we are not set up to come here stick five defensive midfielders across the middle of the park because we haven't got them.

“Attacking football is what got us here in the first place. We have had a go all through this competition so we will have a right go again at San Siro.”

Redknapp said last night that Luka Modric, still recovering from appendicitis, was unlikely to start, but he might yet push the Croatian to begin the game in central midfield.

With Jermaine Jenas suspended, the Brazilian Sandro, yet to play in the Champions league, will start alongside Wilson Palacios with Steven Pienaar to get the nod ahead of Niko Kranjcar on the left side.

The Champions League knockout stages might be uncharted territory for Spurs, but history tells them that the more courageous sides away from home tend to be rewarded.

The first knockout round has been in its current format since the 2003-2004 season and since then of the 66 teams who have scored away from home in the first leg, 47 have progressed to the next round.

Redknapp said: “We can score here. I don't want to concede bags of goals.

“I can't afford the same mistakes. We can't start like (they did against Inter) that again, but as far as shutting up shop goes it's a non-starter because we don't have the players here.

“If I had two wide men who could do a job and sit there and just be solid, I might think about it, but those two types of players are not at this club.

“I am not overloaded with defensive players and to get the best out of what I have got. I can't ask Aaron Lennon to do a defensive job.

“It is not in his nature, no more than it is in Niko Kranjcar's nature just to sit in and do a defensive job.”

Tottenham have so far scored 24 goals in eight games so far, including their two-legged qualifier against Young Boys Berne.

Milan conceded 11 goals in the six group stage games and they will be missing some key players tonight.

Aside from Antonio Cassano and Mark Van Bommel both being cup-tied, their injury list is significant.

Andrea Pirlo, Gianluca Zambrotta, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Rodney Strasser and Massimo Ambrosini are all ruled out with a variety of problems.

Redknapp has his own problems, although van der Vaart should play after he showed good signs of recovery from his calf injury, but Peter Crouch trained last night after being a doubt with a back injury that has required him to have an epidural injection.

The Spurs boss, however, said that his side's two most recent Premier League wins over Bolton Wanderers and Sunderland showed they could play without Bale and Modric.

“We have had to claw some results out, it has not been the free flowing football we have played before perhaps, but we have had a real go,” he said.

“We were solid in our away games. Sure we were hanging on at times, but that is what we have to do — make sure we stay in this last 16 tie.

“We have to give ourselves a chance when we take Milan back to White Hart Lane. At home with a full house we can give any body a go.”

Meanwhile Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic claims that no amount of money could have persuaded him to turn down the Italian giants for Manchester City.

City were reportedly ready to break the bank to sign the 29-year-old after he decided he wanted to end a dismal year at Barcelona last summer with a rumoured weekly wage of up to £500,000on offer.

He admits he held talks with the Eastlands club before moving to Milan but insists a move to the seven-time European champions was his only option.

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