Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Keane optimistic as Spurs aim to stay up

Robbie Keane believes he is the man to put an end to Tottenham's relegation worries after revealing manager Harry Redknapp has put a smile on his face again.

Keane brought to an end a disappointingly brief spell at Liverpool on transfer deadline day when he signed for his former club, just months after realising his boyhood dream of becoming Anfield's number seven.

But he admits that dream soon turned sour when he failed to establish himself in Rafael Benitez's squad and scored just seven goals on Merseyside. The final straw appeared to come when he was left out of the squad for the crucial clash against Chelsea, a match the Reds won 2-0 as the Irishman shivered in the stands.

But since then his fortunes have taken a remarkably swift upturn and he will lead Spurs out in the north London derby on Sunday as the club's new captain and he can already feel the difference.

"Things happen for a reason. It didn't work out for me and now I'm back with a fantastic club and a fantastic manager who believes in his players," he said.

"I'm training with a smile on my face again. I did everything I had to do (at Liverpool), did everything possible to play but sometimes the manager just doesn't fancy you, simple as that.

"But not playing is difficult. It's difficult to take being left out of a squad. That hasn't happened to me since I started playing when I was 17. But I don't regret anything I do in football and I'm a Tottenham player now.

"Tottenham is a club that's close to my heart and I'm really looking forward to going out there and putting that jersey on.

"Liverpool is the past and I'm concentrating on the future."

Tottenham's immediate future, of course, involves ensuring their top-flight status. After a dreadful start to the season which cost Juande Ramos his job, there have been intermittent signs of a return to form but they remain one of the many clubs still looking to guarantee their safety.

And Keane, whose importance is even greater now that Jermain Defoe is out for 10 weeks with a fractured foot, is focused on getting them there.

"It's so close at the bottom that a couple of wins and you are right back up there," he added.

"It's a strong squad but as much as that is the case, we are in a bad position.

"Hopefully we can push up that table, starting on Sunday.

"The reality is we are in a relegation battle and it's our responsibility to get ourselves out.

"It's clear to see the lads have been low on confidence but it's up to me and up to the rest of the players to get back to where I think the club should be, which is in the top 10."

Redknapp, meanwhile, is delighted to have added a player who possesses not only great quality, but also the kind of vocal leadership he believes Tottenham have been lacking.

"I didn't think we'd do it. I didn't think it was possible to get him and I was surprised he was allowed to go," said Redknapp.

"He brings so much to a football club, not only as a player but as a personality.

"In training this week I've noticed a big difference, him being being around rubs off on everyone and he'll be very important for us.

He's a voice. He's says what he feels and if he doesn't agree with something he'll say. If someone's not pulling their weight, I think in a nice way he'll let them know.

"You need people like that.”

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