Defoe shows Redknapp the scale of Saints' task

Tottenham Hotspur 5 - Southampton 1
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The Independent Online

Beg, borrow, steal. It's Harry's game and he'll be playing it for all his worth come next month's transfer window. Three new players, maybe four and hope that he can keep the best of a sorry bunch, so sorry that only Kidderminster Harriers, the bottom club in League Two, have a worse record on the road. "I couldn't believe some of the things that happened out there today," Redknapp said after a 5-1 walloping by Tottenham at White Hart Lane. "You can do things in training, go over things in team talks. And then what happens? We defend like novices, giving the ball away, making silly mistakes. I'm going to have to pull something out of the hat. We're in trouble and have got to show that we've got the character to get out of it."

Beg, borrow, steal. It's Harry's game and he'll be playing it for all his worth come next month's transfer window. Three new players, maybe four and hope that he can keep the best of a sorry bunch, so sorry that only Kidderminster Harriers, the bottom club in League Two, have a worse record on the road. "I couldn't believe some of the things that happened out there today," Redknapp said after a 5-1 walloping by Tottenham at White Hart Lane. "You can do things in training, go over things in team talks. And then what happens? We defend like novices, giving the ball away, making silly mistakes. I'm going to have to pull something out of the hat. We're in trouble and have got to show that we've got the character to get out of it."

Maybe Redknapp should have taken the break he promised himself after splitting with Portsmouth because on the evidence of Saturday's performance he's never taken on a tougher task. To rub salt into the wounds three players he signed for West Ham - Jermain Defoe, Frédéric Kanouté and Michael Carrick were at the top of their game - with Defoe claiming a hat-trick and Carrick and Kanouté producing their best displays in Tottenham's colours.

Tottenham's fourth successive victory, which lifted them to seventh in the Premiership, was the best run they have achieved since September 1995 under Gerry Francis. "We've got good players here and they are playing with confidence," Martin Jol said. "Confidence is the key." That confidence could be found everywhere in the team. The passing and movement were good, they defended well and Paul Robinson made excellent saves when Southampton, after switching to a five-man midfield, stirred themselves in the second half.

The first goal, involving all three West Ham old boys, emphasised the extent of Redknapp's problems. Danny Higginbotham and Anders Svensson were close enough in attendance to deal with Carrick's pass along Southampton's vulnerable left flank but made a hash of the task, allowing Kanouté to sprint for the byline. Defoe checked out to make space and drove Kanouté's pullback fiercely into the roof of the net after only eight minutes.

Southampton's failure to press Tottenham in midfield, where Carrick and Michael Brown held control, meant that their own attempted attacks were confined to long balls aimed at the Premiership's tallest striker, Peter Crouch, but they were unable to get forward in support and were always under threat from the sharpness of Defoe and Kanouté.

Kanouté is a player of moods, a joy one day, frustrating the next. Here he was at his best, holding the ball up well and always endeavouring to get behind a faltering defence. Redknapp had detailed Claus Lundekvam to deal with him, leaving the task of checking Defoe to Darren Kenton. "For some unknown reason they decided to switch it the other way around," said the exasperated Southampton manager.

Defoe, foiled by Antti Niemi's alertness in the 27th minute, got his second goal almost immediately. David Prutton prodded the ball away from Kanouté and succeeded only in finding Defoe who had darted in on the blind side. The finish, prodded low into the far corner, was the act of a natural predator.

Tottenham's third came a minute before the interval. Carrick was the provider, chipping in a ball that found Southampton disastrously square and Kanouté marginally onside. Kanouté's deft first touch was followed by a neat finish.

Redknapp changed things around at half-time, bringing on Andreas Jakobsson as a third centre-back and pushing his full-backs into midfield, and was quickly rewarded when Ledley King miscued a clearance, sending the ball high into the air close to goal. Caught beneath it, King was outjumped by Crouch, whose scoring header raised Southampton's spirit enough to offer sterner resistance and induce nervousness in Tottenham's supporters who have seen leads slip before.

However, the loss of Jason Dodd with a back injury was a disruption Southampton could ill afford, and on the hour Tottenham restored their three-goal lead. Brown stepped in to block a clearance, following it up with a shot that was parried by Niemi only for Defoe to follow up and complete the hat-trick.

The introduction of Robbie Keane with eight minutes remaining raised the question of Jol's preferences. The Republic of Ireland international is not surplus to requirements at White Hart Lane, although there has been talk of him leaving during the January transfer window. However, Kanouté's height gives Jol another option, one he feels is important in the Premiership. "There are ways in which all three [Defoe, Kanouté and Keane] can play together, and in any case it's a nice problem to have," Jol said.

Keane made his point, taking Defoe's scooped pass and knocking the ball beneath Niemi in the 88th minute.

"We need at least three or four new players but I still think I can keep them up," Redknapp said. Is this one trick too far for Harry?

Goals: Defoe (8) 1-0; Defoe (27) 2-0; Kanouté (44) 3-0; Crouch (47) 3-1; Defoe (61) 4-1; Keane (88) 5-1.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Pamarot, Gardner, King, Atouba; Ricketts (Pedro Mendes, 66), Carrick, Brown, Ziegler (Keane, 83); Defoe, Kanouté. Substitutes not used: Fulop (gk), Davenport, Redknapp.

Southampton (4-4-2): Niemi; Dodd (Folly, 54), Lundekvam, Kenton, Higginbotham; Nilsson (Jacobsson, 45), Telfer, Prutton, A Svensson; Phillips, Crouch. Substitutes not used: Smith (gk), Fernandes, Beattie.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Booked: Southampton: Lundekvam, Prutton.

Man of the match: Defoe.

Attendance: 36,054.

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