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Manchester City’s cash ‘blew us out of water’, says Spurs boss Redknapp

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp increased the pressure ahead of tonight's crucial match against Manchester City - effectively a play-off for the Champions League - by revealing yesterday how City use their enormous wealth to distort the transfer market to their own ends.

Redknapp is widely-regarded as adept in pulling off audacious deals but even the experienced manager had to bow before the aggressive tactics used by City last year as both clubs sought to clinch signings in the January transfer window.

He disclosed yesterday that Spurs were warned that unless they ended their pursuit of striker Craig Bellamy, who was with West Ham at the time, City would deliberately sabotage Spurs' attempts to sign midfielder Wilson Palacios from Wigan. Fearing they could lose out on both players, Tottenham went into retreat and allowed City to sign Bellamy for £14m before they snapped up their man Palacios for £12m a few days later. The incident clearly still rankles with Redknapp.

“They blow you out of the water,” Redknapp said yesterday with an air of resignation. “I was interested in Bellamy, we tried to sign Bellamy. And, at the time I was trying to sign Bellamy, we were after Palacios as well. And then they came and said ‘You know, if you don't drop out of Bellamy, we'll sign Palacios as well, and you won't get any of them.'

“So we had no choice really. They just said ‘We'll blow you out of the water.'

“That was it really. Then obviously the money they offered Bellamy we couldn't compete with anyway.”

Redknapp believes City's interest in Palacios was not genuine. Asked if he thought City really wanted to buy Palacios, the Tottenham manager replied: “Not really, I don't think, no. They were half-interested.”

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Redknapp did not go as far as berating City for their bullying behaviour, preferring instead to let others make their own judgments on the rights and wrongs of the incident.

Yet his decision to go public on the threatening manner that City, led by their combative chief executive Garry Cook, tower over the domestic transfer market reflects the growing resentment within the English game that is directed at the men from Eastlands.

The club's behaviour since it was sold to Abu Dhabi United Group in August 2008 has been questionable to say the least. They aggressively went after Chelsea captain John Terry in the summer of 2009, and last month manager Roberto Mancini angered the hierarchy of Liverpool with his admission that he would like to bid for striker Fernando Torres.

The timing of Redknapp's disclosure will add extra spice to a match that already has so much riding on it. Tottenham can clinch fourth place by winning tonight, a remarkable achievement for Redknapp who took over in October 2008 with the club four points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League with two points from eight games.

“When I took over here I discussed targets with the chairman (Daniel Levy) — it wasn't European football, it was to make sure we did not get relegated,” Redknapp said. “We were bottom of the league and Daniel hadn't slept for a couple of weeks so I helped him sleep by getting us out of trouble. He's sleeping well now, especially with the chance of getting into the Champions League.”

Redknapp remains relaxed ahead of the prospect of taking Tottenham into the uncharted territory of the Champions League.

“What gets me excited? My missus is still trying to find the answer,” he joked yesterday.

Redknapp suggested that keeper Heurelho Gomes could start despite picking up a groin injury in Saturdays 1-0 win over Bolton. Ben Alnwick, 23, stands by to make his Premier League debut should the Brazilian fail to recover. Captain Ledley King remains a major doubt as his long-standing knee problems make the task of two games in four days difficult.

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