Redknapp stays focused on managerial milestone

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The Independent Online

Harry Redknapp insists he will not allow accusations of tax evasion to distract him from Tottenham's pursuit of a position in the top four. The Spurs manager, who sends out a Premier League side for the 500th time against Hull today, says football is the only thing on his mind.

Redknapp faces £40,000 tax evasion charges and will appear before the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court on 11 February. ''I've got an awful lot that I'd love to say, believe you me, and when the time is right I will say it but I've been advised not to discuss the matter,'' he said. ''We've got to concentrate on the Hull game. It's a big game and that is the only thing that is on my mind. It's got no effect on me to be perfectly honest. I'm ready for the game and looking forward to it.

''I'm fine. I don't know how it started but we're certainly reaching closure. My mind has not been off football anyway. The game is what I live for.''

Only Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have overseen more Premier League fixtures and given the off-field events leading up to Hull City's visit to White Hart Lane, he is unlikely to forget this personal milestone in a hurry.

Redknapp has been advised not to speak about the court case, although he did insist it had not distracted him from preparing for the visit of Phil Brown's relegation-threatened side. But he was more forthcoming about his 500th match, and perhaps in a way he did not intend. ''That's a lot of games, isn't it?'' he said. ''You never know when your last one is going to arrive. You have to keep enjoying it, that's why I look forward to going to places like Liverpool because you never know if it's the last time.''

Tottenham are the fourth club Redknapp has managed in the Premier League. He had two spells at Portsmouth with a short stint at Southampton in between, having started the Millennium at West Ham, where he had been a player.

It was during his second spell at Pompey, which saw the South-coast club escape a relegation that had long looked a formality, that his defining Premier League moment arrived.

''Of my previous 499 games in the Premier League, I would have to say winning at Wigan, to keep Portsmouth up after we had been dead and buried with 10 games to go, was probably the most important,'' he said. ''Benjani scored his first goal in 14 games and never again could I say to him that, if he had 10 shots as an executioner, the prisoner would still be alive."

Tottenham are fifth and can keep the pressure on fourth-place Manchester City by disposing of the Tigers, although Redknapp has already seen his side slip to unexpected defeats at home to Stoke and Wolverhampton.

''I really wouldn't want to start reminding them about bad days, that's not my way of doing things,'' he said. ''I'd rather talk about how well we have been playing.''

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