Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Spirit of '61 inspires Spurs boss Redknapp

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp insists his side have the belief to challenge the Barclays Premier League top four after victory over West Ham meant their best start to a season since winning the double in 1961.

Redknapp refused to compare his current crop to Spurs' celebrated team from nearly half a century ago, although he feels his side have a chance of creating their own history and pushing for their place in the Champions League.

After falling behind to Carlton Cole's spectacular opener at Upton Park, Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon took advantage of errors from Gianfranco Zola's men to maintain Spurs' 100% start to the campaign.

"Nine points is a great start for us," Redknapp said. "But I wouldn't even compare ourselves to the '61 or '62 team. That was an amazing football team.

"They had Bill Nicholson as manager, Dave Mackay and Danny Blanchflower playing for them. Dave Mackay was like three men, not one.

"We've got some good players, but they had a great team and were fantastic. That was a special time in the club's history, a long time ago. If we are anywhere as good as them, we'll be okay."

Confidence is high at Spurs after wins over Liverpool, Hull and now West Ham, with pundits suggesting Redknapp has the quality to challenge the traditional top four.

"Who knows what we can achieve?" he said. "I'm not saying we'll finish in the top four, but we have good quality and we'll give it a go.

"It could be open this year. Manchester City will certainly be pushing to be a top-four team, and there's no reason we can't push.

"We've won two away games already this year. If our home form stands up, we'll be right up there."

Redknapp's men had to come from a goal behind after Cole unleashed a 25-yard volley which crashed past Carlo Cudicini four minutes after the break.

Cole turned from hero to villain five minutes later when his backpass led to Defoe levelling, a sweet goal for the former Hammers striker who gets jeered when returning to the club.

"Obviously they are disappointed, they are at home and were 2-1 down," Defoe said. "Every time I got on the ball the crowd were on my back."

The winner came 11 minutes from time after Jonathan Spector's slip allowed Lennon to cut inside and drive past Robert Green.

Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola is desperate to give Cole support in attack and wants to bring in Marouane Chamakh from Bordeaux

But Zola said: "I don't think West Ham are his only potential destination. There are a few teams after him."

Zola has been without Dean Ashton following a long-term ankle injury. Following a report Ashton could retire from football, Zola added: "As far as I know, he's still doing his rehabilitation and I'm hoping to have him in my team. He's a player who can make a big difference.

"Until they tell me something different, I'm hoping he'll come back."

It is understood that money from selling James Collins would allow the Chamakh deal to go through.

"There's an interest in him (Collins) from another team, but that's all I know," Zola said.

"In defence we have eight players I can choose from. In attack, I can only choose Carlton Cole or myself. We have two young players who are doing well, but they need time."

Zola's side were also dealing with the shock of hearing defender Calum Davenport was in intensive care after being stabbed in both legs.

"We're very sorry about what happened," he said. "The situation will be clearer in the next few days. Now it's just important that he's all right.

"We didn't believe it when we heard. You don't expect things like this to happen, especially to people you know."

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