'Jamie rang – he asked if we wanted Beckham'
Tottenham Hotspur traditionally thrive in years ending in a 1, and after such a promising 2010, their supporters are already anticipating a sustained assault on the Premier League title, not to mention the Champions League and FA Cup.
So it may seem strange that Harry Redknapp, their manager, is hoping to land a player during the transfer window who could sign only on a three-month loan and will be several thousand miles away when the trophies are lifted.
But even 12 weeks of David Beckham, Redknapp believes, would be worth it. "How could you lose, for three months?" he said. "He knows how to play, he knows how to win football matches, keep the ball in the right areas when you're under pressure. I think he could give us an awful lot."
An awful lot of shirt sales? Not so, Redknapp insists. "It's not like when I was at Bournemouth and we took George Best. We're not trying to fill the stadium, are we? You can't get a seat here anyway. I just genuinely feel he could come here and do a good job for us.
"When you're looking to hit Crouchy, if you're looking for someone to drop a ball on his head from set plays, free-kicks, corners, there's no one better in the world. David had no pace when he was 17, 18, so he hasn't lost that. He's still got his brain, that fantastic ability to put the ball where he wants to put it."
Beckham has said in the past he would not want to play for a Premier League club other than Manchester United, but, according to Redknapp, it was the former England captain who first enquired about the possibility of a spell at White Hart Lane. And not through one of his "people" or an agent, but via a source much closer to home. "He spoke to my son, to Jamie, about it and that's how it all came about," Redknapp said. "Jamie rang me, said he'd spoken to David Beckham and would we be interested? He just said, 'I'd like to come back and play and I'd fancy playing for Tottenham, because I like the way they play.'
"I said yes, I would be interested. I can't help but admire a boy who wants to come here and play football when he could be sat in the sun for three months in Los Angeles. I don't know whether it'll happen, whether they will let him move. It's probably 50-50, but David's dead keen."
Robbie Keane and David Bentley could be loaned out to make room for Beckham – and one other? "We would spend the money if we find the right player," Redknapp admitted. "The owner wants me to find someone to move us to another level if possible, but I don't know where that player is."
Those who know Redknapp will find that hard to believe. But then, if Beckham does end up at Spurs, it will mean that one of the great players of the transfer market will apparently have had two high-profile signings simply drop in his lap this season, given that he claimed last summer that Rafael van der Vaart was a surprise gift from Daniel Levy, the chairman.
It was Van der Vaart who provided one of the few bright spots on Saturday when his free-kick was headed home by Gareth Bale, denying Fulham a deserved share of the points. Tottenham home games are seldom last on Match of the Day, but this was poor, the usual flow absent.
That was at least partly thanks to Fulham's efforts, but they were unable to offer enough of a forward threat to take a point that they would have deserved. So while Tottenham are thinking about adding a glamorous bit-part player, the Fulham manager, Mark Hughes, has a pressing and basic need to address. Bobby Zamora is due back from injury next month, but Hughes needs a goalscorer more urgently with his team in the bottom three. He has been linked with strikers from Roque Santa Cruz, whom he managed at Blackburn and Manchester City, but whose wages could prove prohibitive, to Steve Morison, promising at Millwall but untried at the top level.
"It's not about getting players in with potential," Hughes said. "It's the here and now that we are dealing with. I think everyone knows we are a good team, with good players. We just lack a bit of presence sometimes in the opposition box. Moussa Dembele [will return] in midweek, or, if not, at the weekend, and Bobby will be back in February. We'll have options then, but obviously we want them now."
Scorer: Tottenham Bale 42.
Subs: Tottenham Corluka (Hutton, 27), Crouch (Pavlyuchenko, 66), Jenas (Van der Vaart, 83).
Unused Pletikosa (gk), Bassong, Kranjcar, Sandro. Fulham Gera (Duff, 82). Unused Stockdale (gk), Salcido, Halliche, Dikgacoi, Greening, Kamara.
Booked: Tottenham Dawson, Assou-Ekotto Fulham Pantsil.
Man of the match Modric. Match rating 5/10.
Possession Tottenham 55% Fulham 45%.
Shots on target Tottenham 5 Fulham 3. Referee M Jones (Cheshire). Att 35,603.
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