Any lingering impression that Harry Redknapp was upset at Tottenham's imminent Europa League exit was killed off yesterday, as the Spurs manager said his rivals would probably be "disappointed" by it.
Redknapp, who described it as a "punishment," offered a wide-ranging critique of the competition, including the number of matches, their scheduling on Thursday nights, and the inclusion of Champions League drop-downs.
Tottenham are not certainly out of the competition; they need a strong goal difference swing in their favour next week. Redknapp, though, did not sound desperate to go through, especially when he revealed his suspicion that Spurs' rivals would be hoping for them to progress.
"If I was at one of the other clubs I'd have been disappointed," Redknapp said of Spurs' likely exit. "I'd have wanted Tottenham to stay in because – as cruel as it is – you pick up injuries. You do want your opposition playing in Europe for sure, especially if you can get them into the Europa League, even better."
Luka Modric, rarely risked in Europe, is central to Spurs' plans and will not be sold in January even if Manchester United approach, Redknapp said. "He's been a big part of what we've done so far," he said. "We're not going to rip that team to pieces halfway through the season. He's definitely not going anywhere in January, there's no chance."
Redknapp also condemned the practice of third-place Champions League group finishers entering the Europa League last 32. "I don't know how you go from the Champions League to the Europa League,"he said. "You get knocked out of it you're out of it, surely, what are you doing coming back again? It's unbelievable."
Redknapp agreed with Sir Alex Ferguson's description of demotion to the Europa League as "punishment", with Thursday fixtures, and the moved Premier League games on Sundays. "It just messes the whole week up," Redknapp said. "Playing Thursdays, coming back Friday; it's not the correct way to prepare."
This felt like a man unloading after months of frustration, which, he hopes, will end in Dublin on Thursday. That will be just Spurs' eighth game in the tournament, but he feels over-burdened. "It's that league," Redknapp said. "There's so many games, it just seems to go on for ever."
Spurs play at Stoke City tomorrow, when Ledley King is unlikely to be fit, although Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe ought to be ready.Reuse content