Belfast Telegraph

Harry Redknapp has title in his sights now

Harry Redknapp's reputation as football's alchemist was enhanced when he guided Tottenham Hotspur into the top four of the Premier League last season, yet he is not finished.

Plotting the club's path while he travels on the M3, with assistant Kevin Bond for company each day on the commute, Redknapp has passed significant landmarks in the two years since his appointment as manager.

As he reminded us frequently, the club had “two points from eight games” when he took over so the first task was to steer Spurs away from relegation trouble.

Since then they have qualified for the Champions League, with two of the key players being Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, who were not favoured by Juande Ramos, the man replaced by Redknapp.

Next for Redknapp is to establish his club as title contenders, which he believes is possible following Chelsea dropping points in two of their last three games and Manchester United's stuttering form.

He has targeted victory at Arsenal today (12.45pm) to send a message to the rest of the league of Spurs' intentions.

“If we could have a run and pick up some big wins and get ourselves in there. It's not impossible,” Redknapp said.

“You have to win these games to win the championship and it's never been so open.

“Whoever puts run together got real chance as it's wide open and no-one is on a different level.

“We finished a couple of points behind Arsenal last year. In the end there was nothing in it really, at the death it got very close.

“So if we can pick up a couple of wins there's no reason we can't make a challenge this year.”

There was a similar tone to Redknapp a year ago when Tottenham were considered as possible top-four candidates.

“It's possible,” he would always say, never falling into the trap of former Spurs manager Martin Jol, whose doubts over whether his team could finish among the elite was part of his downfall.

Redknapp perhaps feels victory at the Emirates Stadium would have added significance as it has been 17 years since Spurs recorded a victory on their rivals' turf.

Back in 1993 the crucial goals came from Scottish striker John Hendry, with Spurs' home victories since often viewed as one-offs. Redknapp feels the two clubs are now evenly matched.

He has pulled off one the shrewdest signings of the season by spending £8million on Rafael van der Vaart from Real Madrid.

Jermain Defoe is also set to return to the squad following an ankle injury and Aaron Lennon is available after recovering from hamstring problems.

Van der Vaart is likely to start behind a lone striker.

“Arsenal play fantastic football, but I think we do well, so it's got the makings of a great game,” Redknapp added.

“Samir Nasri was best player on pitch against England on Wednesday, but we have Luka Modric and Rafa van der Vaart.

“I think we have been in terms of spending money, we've certainly competed with Arsenal for years and years now. Tottenham have spent big money over the years.

“Hopefully getting the Champions League this year we can continue to progress as a team, not

necessarily spending money but progressing and becoming stronger as a team.”

Given Redknapp's move to Southampton from Portsmouth and back earlier in his career, the 63-year-old has been underwhelmed by the excitement surrounding William Gallas' return to the Emirates Stadium to take on the team he made over a century of appearances for.

“I was surprised no-one else took him when he was on a free from Arsenal,” Redknapp said.

“He was a great free transfer, wasn't he, in the summer. It's hard to find good players.”

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph