When Harry Redknapp had finished lambasting his Tottenham Hotspur team at half-time on Tuesday night, he turned to Jamie O'Hara and told him he was coming on for the second half of the Carling Cup semi-final. The former Spurs academy player played in every game in their run to last season's Carling Cup final but was left out of the squad on the big day by Juande Ramos.
On Tuesday, the 23-year-old did not disappoint, scoring once and making two further goals as Redknapp's side overturned a one goal deficit to beat Burnley 4-1. Redknapp is understood to have named and shamed a couple of individuals at half-time on Tuesday and, after coming on for David Bentley, O'Hara did his own prospects a great deal of good. There is, however, no guarantee that if Spurs go through to the final on 1 March that he will be in the team this time around.
Last year, O'Hara scored against Slavia Prague in the Uefa Cup on the Thursday before Sunday's final but was told by Ramos on the day of the game – as was the Spanish coach's way – that Teemu Tainio had beaten him to a place on the bench. A Tottenham fan who joined the club from Arsenal as an academy player in 2003, O'Hara was caught by TV cameras around the Wembley dressing rooms with tears in his eyes shortly after he was told.
Having bought 22 tickets for his family and friends, O'Hara recalled after Tuesday's game just what a blow it had been. "Ramos just said to me 'You are going to rest today' and that was it. It's not really what you want to hear. I played in every game up to the final and scored on the previous Wednesday so I thought that I would be involved. But I wasn't and the lads won the Carling Cup so the manager was right. I got a winner's medal, but it is not the same feeling as winning it by being on the pitch. I had all my family at Wembley. I had paid for 22 tickets so they could see me play. I think half of them went home before the game because they were there to see me and support me. It was disappointing for them too but hopefully this year I can get 30 tickets because I'll be involved."
Redknapp's public pursuit of Stewart Downing, which looks ever more unlikely to be realised, demonstrates that he is still in the market for a left-sided player. The Spurs manager admitted that he was doing Bentley "no favours" by picking him on the left to accommodate Aaron Lennon on the other wing. Curiously, it is understood that Bentley told Tottenham he could play on the left when he signed in the summer. O'Hara said he was prepared for the competition: "With such a big club like Tottenham, there are always players who are going to be linked with your position. I think that what I bring to Tottenham is 100 per cent passion for the club because I was a Tottenham supporter as a boy."
Another Spurs man anxious about his place should they make the final is Michael Dawson, who also missed out last year. He scored Tottenham's equaliser against Burnley on Tuesday but will definitely make way for Ledley King should the Spurs captain be fit for the final. "I just want to help Tottenham get to the final," Dawson said. "Everyone knows what Ledley's got. He's a great player. While I keep playing, hopefully I keep doing well and hopefully the manager keeps picking me. It was heartbreaking for me, phoning my family and saying I wouldn't be involved. But it's not about individuals. We all hurt deep inside when we're not involved but it's about the football club winning trophies."Reuse content