Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham Hotspur manager, yesterday admitted that his squad is inferior to Chelsea's – but he is still backing his players to finish above them in the Premier League, come the end of the season.
Chelsea's 5-1 FA Cup semi-final victory over Spurs last Sunday may have been given a huge helping hand by the officials who awarded Juan Mata's "ghost goal" while the tie was still in the balance, but Redknapp was candid enough to admit that the pool of players at his disposal is not as rich as the squad built by Roman Abramovich's billions as the two clubs – and Newcastle United – battle for the remaining Champions League spot. Yet he still feels that Tottenham can hold on to fourth place, especially if they can win at Queen's Park Rangers this evening.
"I still think we will finish fourth," he said. "To be where we are now at this stage of the season is what we would have taken at the start of the season. We have nothing to be down about. We have played some great football this year and we are still bang in there.
"I don't doubt the squad and I don't think it's a failed squad, whatever we do. We're not entitled to be above Chelsea really, in all honesty. Look at the investment they've made.
"I wouldn't say we've got a stronger squad than Chelsea – no way – or a stronger squad than Liverpool, come to that, but we're fourth in the league and if we finish fourth we'll be delighted."
Newcastle and Chelsea could both be ahead of Tottenham in the table by the time the game kicks off at Loftus Road, however. Furthermore, Redknapp is aware that he does not have a John Terry-style leader in his squad. "They are quiet lads," he said. "We have not got anyone very vocal in there. Only Michael Dawson, who we lost with injury, is a bit of a leader and character."
Should Chelsea win the Champions League , Tottenham will have to make do with the Europa League next season even if they do finish fourth. While Redknapp insisted he genuinely believed Chelsea could get past Barcelona next Tuesday to reach the final, he said he did not expect them to lift the trophy.
"I'll be rooting for Chelsea – I want to see an English team win it," Redknapp said. "But if they beat Barcelona, I still can't see them beating Real Madrid."