Redknapp unlikely to wish Spurs well in Europa League quest
It could, it should, have been them. But instead of Chelsea’s assignment – a Champions League game against Juventus tonight – Tottenham are preparing for tomorrow’s visit of Lazio in the Europa League. It is the difference between drinking Cava and Cristal champagne. Each is acceptable; only one is memorable.
Without wishing to be uncharitable, it is unlikely Harry Redknapp will be raising a glass to Tottenham’s good health. He claims to hold no grudges following his sacking, and insists he was merely “unlucky” not to qualify for the Champions League, thanks to his London rivals’ ultimate victory in the competition.
Not for the first time, a manager adept at the dark art of media manipulation gave himself wriggle room. Chelsea’s hoisting of the trophy last May was the finale of a wonderfully improbable adventure, yet Redknapp’s Tottenham blew the chance to finish a comfortable third, and thus guarantee their place. Three wins in the final 11 Premier League matches represents a loss of form and nerve.
He should worry. ‘Arry, as it seems we are contractually obliged to refer to him, is already being lined up for his next job. West Ham, Southampton, Leicester, Ipswich: someone else pays a lot of money and he takes his choice. It is likely he will be ushered back into football by a panic-stricken club chairman in early October, during the next international break.
André Villas-Boas will be spared the sniping – we all knew to whom Redknapp was referring when he spoke of not needing “Powerpoint presentations and 70-page dossiers” to produce flowing football – and will be allowed to get on with his job. For a little while at least.
Tottenham are an extremely political club and trying to work with Daniel Levy is football’s equivalent of Russian roulette. Not for the first time, the chairman’s penchant for tortuous transfer negotiations proved counter-productive. AVB was denied both his principal target, João Moutinho, and his plan B, Shaktar Donetsk’s Willian.
Yet Mousa Dembélé, who has somehow lost an ‘s’ from his first name in the process of moving from Fulham, and Clint Dempsey, the goalscoring midfield player Liverpool couldn’t afford, will grow into the Spurs midfield. Gylfi Sigurdsson is another recent signing who is too good a player to fail.
Gareth Bale will win Tottenham a ton of points and probably the Europa League before one of Levy’s cultural exchange programmes kicks in and he is sold to Real Madrid. ‘Triffic’, as a certain temporarily unemployed football manager would no doubt say.
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Watch Tottenham live on BT Vision:
Tottenham v Lazio, 7.45pm, 20 September, ITV4
Man Utd v Tottenham, 4.30pm, 29 September, ESPN
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