Harry Redknapp has brought with him the power to transform Tottenham Hotspur but never before has he done it in the space of one match. In these 90 minutes was the schizophrenic nature of Tottenham writ large: terrible before half-time and booed off the pitch; brilliant after the break with four goals and now, very probably, off to Wembley again.
This was, as a certain politician might say, change you can believe in. The Carling Cup final now beckons for Spurs after a second-half blitz on Burnley that renders the semi-final second leg at Turf Moor on 21 January virtually obsolete. So much so that Burnley's tough Gorbals-born manager Owen Coyle was already talking after the match as if his team had already lost this semi-final. "We've given ourselves a mountain to climb," Coyle said. "No, actually it's more than that."
Not before the Carling Cup holders were, in Redknapp's words, "sorted out" at half-time. His anger was still palpable after the match at an insipid first-half performance in which Martin Paterson scored and Burnley looked more like the Premier League team. Redknapp replaced David Bentley – he was "apparently ill" according to his manager – with Jamie O'Hara and the effect was instantaneous. The midfielder made two goals, scored one and proved the most unlikely match-winner of the night.
The change was best summarised by Coyle, who said: "You would have had to have been psychic to have predicted this outcome." Michael Dawson headed in the equaliser, O'Hara scored the second, Roman Pavlyuchenko the third and Michael Duff nodded in an own goal to make things really hopeless for Burnley. Redknapp claimed that at half-time he told his players that they were playing for their futures, but even though they won it seemed that he was still not convinced.
After the match Redknapp systematically took apart the squad he has been bequeathed by Damien Comolli and Juande Ramos – everything from poor old Ricardo Rocha to the lack of cover at left-back. It was classic Redknapp, designed to remind his chairman Daniel Levy that although he has spent £15.5m on Jermain Defoe, paraded on the pitch before the game, the rebuilding process has only just begun in the eyes of the Tottenham manager.
Defoe turned up in the kind of floppy hat favoured by men queuing for soup kitchens in the Great Depression of America in the 1930s – ironic given that he has just signed his second lucrative new contract in the space of 12 months. After the adulation was dished out for their returning favourite, White Hart Lane was soon sighing and then grumbling at the disintegration of their team.
Burnley's best player in the first half was Chris Eagles, a 23-year-old right winger who was once mentioned as a potential new David Beckham during his years in Manchester United's youth teams. He gave up on that dream in the summer but he still struts around like the Championship's Cristiano Ronaldo with lime green boots and a hairband. At least in the first half the cut-price Ronaldo lived up to his billing with a telling cross to make Burnley's goal.
It was an embarrassing goal for Gareth Bale, who was skinned by Eagles despite the fact that the former United man does not possess any real pace. His backpost cross was easily side-footed past Heurelho Gomes by Paterson at the far post. Even when Burnley lost their central midfielder Joey Gudjonsson to injury before the half hour they did not look the slightest bit ruffled. From Pavlyuchenko's shot goalkeeper Brian Jensen made a brilliant one-handed save.
Booed off, the Spurs team faced the wrath of Redknapp and came back out transformed. The Spurs manager admitted that Bentley is out of place on the left wing but the uncomfortable truth for the England man is that O'Hara looked much more comfortable than him and, in Redknapp's words, gave the team "a balance". A minute into the new half, O'Hara's corner was headed straight in by Dawson. Burnley had looked weak defending set-pieces right from the start and it would get worse.
Tottenham's second came from the right where Pavlyuchenko's cross deflected off Luka Modric and fell to O'Hara in the left channel of the area. He hit his shot first time and, unforgivably, Jensen – aka "The Beast" although there was nothing frightening about him in the second half – let the ball go right through him.
The third goal was beautifully executed by Pavlyuchenko – and at last Spurs could point to a respectable gulf in ability between the two teams. The Russian received the ball from Bale on the left and with a drop of the shoulder sent Wade Elliott and Clarke Carlisle in the wrong direction. Jensen never got anywhere near his shot into the far corner.
Goal No 4 for Spurs was woeful defending of a set-piece again by Burnley. O'Hara crossed and an uncertain Michael Duff only grazed the ball enough to put it beyond the reach of Jensen. The conquerors of Fulham, Arsenal and Chelsea in this competition were on their knees although, by the sounds of it, Redknapp feels the same way about Spurs.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, Woodgate, Bale; Lennon, Zokora, Modric, Bentley (O'Hara, h-t); Pavlyuchenko, Campbell. Substitutes not used: Alnwick (gk), Gunter, Dos Santos, Taarabt, Boateng, Rocha.
Burnley (4-4-2): Jensen; Alexander, Carlisle, Duff, Jordan; Eagles, Gudjonsson (K McDonald, 29), McCann, Elliott; Paterson (Akinbiyi, 85), Blake (Rodriguez, 74). Substitutes not used: Penny (gk), Kalvenes, Mahon, A McDonald.
Referee: M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).Reuse content