Harry Redknapp has come in for a lot of stick in the last few weeks,
some of it deserved. In the post Christmas period results have been
poor, and some his team selections and tactics have been questionable.
His constant references to the lowly league position before his arrival
suggests he is not totally convinced Spurs can still beat the drop and
is absolving himself of blame. His treatment of Darren Bent after the
Portsmouth draw was harsh. Of course, anyoneís missus would have put
that chance away, but at a time when we need to have all hands the
pumps, it was not the wisest move to publicly humiliate a player who
clearly lacks confidence.
be fair, Redknapp is himself under pressure. Before we become too
critical, we must realize that without him at the helm we would probably
be in an even worse position. Spurs were deservedly bottom of the league
in October. We were awful, leaderless and weak in attack. They could no
longer outscore the opposition. The old cracks were still there, but
they had lost the ability to paper over them. The boost following
Redknappís arrival has given us a fighting chance of survival.
Furthermore, Redknappís attitude towards the UEFA cup campaign, although
controversial, is the right one. We canít afford to be playing a
congested fixture list when we are struggling at the wrong end of the
table. As he said himself, itís no use progressing to the latter stages
of the UEFA cup and being relegated.
The away victory over Hull was so important, as it gives us some
valuable breathing space in the relegation battle. Yet despite our
recent improvement in the league, we are still not playing effectively
as a unit.
canít say that I have watched one match this season where I have been
satisfied with our performance. In patches we have been good. But more
often than not our midfield has been inconsistent, the strikers have
failed to link up effectively in attack, and at the back we have
committed glaring defensive and goalkeeping errors.
The match against Arsenal at home is a case in point. Before kick off I
would have taken a draw, as the point was valuable. But in the context
of the game we should have won. Arsenal were there for the taking, yet
all we could do was huff and puff. Our failure to put the ball in the
back of the net emboldened the opposition and encouraged doubt in the
minds of our own players. Fear of the opposition, fear of losing, fear
of relegation has hindered Tottenham all season.
This Sunday, against the English, European and World Club Champions, we
are not expected to win. The odds are stacked against us. If you
prescribe to that outlook, and most do, then surely Spurs have nothing
to lose if they go for it. The League Cup final presents a massive
opportunity for the players to purge some of their demons. It gives them
a chance to show everyone what they are really made of, to play with
freedom without the fear of defeat and the consequences of relegation.
may also not be a bad time to play against United. Their clean sheet
record came to an end against Blackburn last weekend, and their
frustrating 0-0 draw against Inter Milan may be a sign that they are
about to go through as difficult patch. On the flip side Spursí
performances in the league have improved of late, and the away victory
over Hull is a major boost. And let us not forget that Redknapp has a
knack of getting the better of Alex Ferguson in the big games.
Man United have more quality than Spurs in every position on the pitch.
Having Palacios, Keane and Cudicini cup tied doesnít do us any favours.
The injury to Defoe was a particular blow, as he worked well up front
with Pavlyuchenko. Even so, if the players available perform to the best
of their ability, they have a real chance of causing an upset.
cautious, defensive strategy will not work for Spurs. They need to make
it hard for United, chase every loose ball, close them down, and play to
their attacking strengths when in possession.
Spurs can win this cup final. But to do so, the players will have to put
their league worries to the back of their minds, work hard and can play