James Lawton: Redknapp's side must remember lessons learnt on thrilling journey

Spurs do not need telling that gaining the ultimate heights demands something rather more

The miracle of White Hart Lane, even with Gareth Bale at times suggesting he had once more borrowed one of Superman's telephone box dressing rooms, was never really viable, not after the broken nerve of the Bernabeu – and certainly not in the wake of a particularly damning catastrophe for the chronically erratic Heurelho Gomes.

When Tottenham's goalkeeper fumbled the ball over his line in the opening shots of the second half, it was a forlorn echo of their follies in Madrid.

Still, there was something of a small blessing for a European campaign which had known so many moments of thrilling uplift on the way to that terrible denouement. Spurs from time to time did, after all, look like Spurs again.

They showed their most endearing quality, a belief that playing adventurous football, passing and running with steady optimism, is something entitled to carry them some considerable way towards the highest rewards.

Of course, they do not need telling now that gaining the ultimate heights of the European game demands something rather more – and not least the kind of certainty and discipline Jose Mourinho has grafted on to some exceptional ability in his Real side. Indeed, if the nascent reputation of Spurs has suffered in this tie it has been no more severely than that of the old iron mistress of European football, Serie A.

Spurs proved too strong, too good-hearted for reigning champions Internazionale and seven-time European Cup-winners Milan but against Spain's number two team they have encountered a whole range of challenges beyond their power, and not least psychologically.

For Harry Redknapp the imperative is to make sure that the value of the European adventure is not allowed to drain away. Spurs have dared to be great on their return to club football's greatest tournament and when the recriminations are done, when Real Madrid have thundered off down the high road of history to duel with Barcelona, Spurs have to take an honest look at themselves.

If they retain a clear memory of their best work last night they should not take too harsh or diminishing a view. Even when Luka Modric was denied the most serious of three first-half Tottenham penalty appeals, Spurs continued to suggest that if there would be no heavenly light above north London we would have more evidence of a team committed to some superior football values.

This was true even though one of the season's most inspiring players, Rafael van der Vaart, was untypically muted in the strutting presence of such as Cristiano Ronaldo, whose unexceptional shot at goal was mishandled by Gomes for maybe the most gratuitous of 40 goals in another season of extraordinary fertility from the Portuguese demi-god.

Modric seemed particularly anxious that his team should do a little more than shuffle off into a despondent night and much of his work had the usual craft and invention. Bale was, as we have come to expect, stupendous at times, one controlling of the ball on the touchline and surge of momentum providing an enduring image of a player capable of bursting through any obstacle. With Bale an empire could certainly be built, though whether the value-for-money Spurs board will have the will to resist massive overtures is obviously a matter of some doubt.

In the meantime, Spurs can certainly count up some outstanding assets out on the field. Another point of optimism last night was Tom Huddlestone's increasingly confident emergence from some injury-enforced hibernation. For a little while he was ambushed by the slickness of Real, not too surprisingly with someone like Xabi Alonso on hand to provide his usual display of urgency and authority, but as the action unfolded the big man showed increasing confidence and finesse.

The result was some Spurs football encouraging to those who came to see not the miracle but a show of some pride and resilience. This might have brought more tangible results but for the horrific blow at the heart of Gomes' confidence. However, Spurs will surely not believe that this was the truest test of their surviving mettle. Had the issue been less clearly resolved, it is reasonable to believe that Real would have played with a sharper edge than was required for their formal passage last night.

No, the true examination of Spurs after their adventure will come in the next few weeks when they strive to return to the theatre for which they have undoubtedly showed some fine aptitude. Against the likes of Manchester City, again, Chelsea and Arsenal, Tottenham have to show that they can indeed grow strong again at places which for a little while have inevitably been broken.

Spurs can tell themselves that they have proved something in Europe. They have shown with enough nerve and enough courage you can exceed all of your hopes. Now, they have to look at the finer points of their game and, because this can be such a cruel game, their enduring faith in the man who guards the line.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor