Harry Redknapp might be interested in signing DavidBeckham, but the prospect of being joined by the former England captain could not inspire his weary players yesterday. Gareth Bale's 11th goal of the season gave Tottenham the three points that allowed them to begin 2011 in the top four of the Premier League, but this was not the heady stuff of some of their autumn victories.
Three games in seven days had taken their toll, and Spurs struggled to find some inspiration against a Fulham side who worked hard to deny them time and space. However, all the most successful teams have the knack of winning when below their best and this was Spurs 13th match without defeat since losing 2-0 to Manchester United on 30 October.
"We clawed a result out," Redknapp said. "But it's been a good week, with nine points from three games. I knew it would be tough today." Tougher than landing Beckham? "It's out of my hands," he said. "I've passed it on to people at the club and they're talking to the people at LA Galaxy.
"David said that he would like to come here and play here at Tottenham. I don't think he expects to play every game for us, and he's not going to – he's got to get in the team, obviously – but I still think he could play a big part for us. I think he'd be a good influence around the place."
While Redknapp waits on Beckham, Mark Hughes, the Fulham manager, is searching for badly needed goalscoring reinforcements to take his team out of the bottom three. "There are discussions going on every single day," he said. "We're in a position that we feel is totally false given the way we've performed. We came to the in-form side, a team that is absolutely flying at the moment, and they were hanging on at the end. We just need that break."
As Tottenham struggled to find any rhythm, it was tempting to wonder what difference Beckham might have made on Saturday. He would certainly not have matched Aaron Lennon's pace in his natural position on the right, but might have chosen better options, as well as being able to provide a greater range of passes from central midfield than Wilson Palacios.
With Simon Davies and Damien Duff helping the Fulham full-backs bottle up Lennon and Bale, and only Luka Modric able to find any room, Tottenham's best chance seemed to be from set plays, as it proved when they took the lead after 42 minutes. Rafael van der Vaart shaped to shoot from a free-kick 30 yards out, and the Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer was left flat-footed when Bale leapt into the path of the ball to guide it home with his head.
That forced Fulham out, and Duff should have hit the target when found by a good pass from Chris Baird, while Michael Dawson cleared off the line after 62 minutes when Heurelho Gomes could only stun Andrew Johnson's shot.
Tottenham held on, but a cooler head might have made for a less frenetic final 30 minutes. "David [Beckham] could have come on today when we were under pressure and he might have kept the ball for us," Redknapp admitted. "If it is do-able, it would be good. It's a no-brainer, isn't it?"
Referee: Mike Jones
Man of the match: Modric