Redknapp free to look forward but Bolton lack spirit of Muamba

Bolton Wanderers 1 Tottenham Hotspur 4

The Reebok Stadium

Where there's life there's hope. The presence of Fabrice Muamba, muffled against the spring chill in a huge puffer jacket on the pitch last night, and occasionally leaping from his seat to gaze skywards at an opportunity lost, reveal that much.

He might yet play football again. "It's too early to say," his manager Owen Coyle said late last night. "But he is certainly going in the right direction. God willing he will. He is not just a team-mate but a close, close friend."

Yet while his is the recovery that football can give thanks for, the one Bolton Wanderers now hope for looks like it might take them right to the precipice and, quite possibly, beyond. Their capacity to defend lacked an elite quality last night and as their supporters drifted away near the end, no-one looked much up for the fight.

The profiteers were a Tottenham side whose manager, released from the ifs and buts of England, has suddenly rediscovered the elixir of counter-attacking success which had his side being talked about as potential champions this winter. Harry Redknapp took the applause, along with his first away win of 2012, and appeared to say that was him and England done now. "I didn't wake up on Monday morning and think 'What's happened to my life; I'm not England manager?'" he said. "That's how I am. It's saved me a decision to be honest because I'm very happy at Tottenham.

"I'm fed up of hearing my name mentioned now. I'm history with that job. I get very well paid, I've got a fantastic job. There are a lot of lads in the lower leagues who never get the chance. I don't feel as though anyone owes me anything. It's done, move on."

How Spurs will wish he had said that in February. With only Aston Villa and Fulham to come now for Tottenham and that slick counter-attacking style restored, fourth place in the Premier League is theirs to lose and Arsenal are only a point ahead in the third place which will assume great importance in Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. "Tight isn't it?" Redknapp observed.

Coyle reflected that "it is not a particularly nice feeling at the moment." A sign on the approach road to the Reebok marks the entry point to the "Bolton economic development zone", which the club will be calling on with two more performances like this. Coyle's team could have put daylight between themselves and Queen's Park Rangers and moved out of the bottom three but, from the terrace to the turf, it just did not feel like a night of drive and derring do. That signpost is erected on a road which commemorates the now defunct De Havilland propeller firm. Bolton had very little propulsion.

Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon did, mind you, in a messy first half which Tottenham dominated without leaving second gear. Luka Modric exposed the gulf in class when, in a moment of quite exquisite technical skill, he took Rafael van der Vaart's corner on his chest, allowed the ball a bounce and unravelled a dipping, swerving shot into the top right-hand corner. Coyle was angry about a clear handball by Sandro as he brushed into the box for the shot which brought the corner. His grief was compounded by Dedryck Boyata blazing over.

Kevin Davies' aerial threat began to deliver after the interval and from somewhere, Bolton found an equaliser, when David Ngog's backheel found Nigel Reo-Coker in space to ram the ball home. The flood was only briefly dammed. No sooner had an atmosphere materialised than lamentable defending turned the game. "A two-minute period cost us an awful lot," as Coyle put it. Bale engineered Spurs' second, breaking forward down the left and levelling the ball which Mark Davies, failing to track his man, allowed Van der Vaart a clear run to convert. Then the trick was flipped to the opposite flank.

Modric's gorgeous pass found Lennon, with Sam Ricketts lacking spatial awareness to foresee his run and cross, which Emmanuel Adebayor converted. Bale slid the Togolese through to round Adam Bogdan for the fourth. Coyle spoke of the the need to be "brave" now. They can harness the inspiration Muamba provides.

Muamba miracle: Fabrice takes more steps on road to recovery

Visibly moved by the reception he was given at the stadium where, just 46 days ago, flowers were being laid in the slim hope that he would survive, a fragile Fabrice Muamba took more tentative steps towards recovery last night.

The 24-year-old was not sure-footed as he padded across the Reebok turf and his waves to the supporters who chanted his name were interspersed with attempts to wipe away tears. He had arrived in a silver people carrier with girlfriend Shauna, 45 minutes before kick-off and visited the Bolton dressing room before the game.

Ian Herbert

Man of the match Modric.

Match rating 6/10.

Referee M Dean (Wirral).

Attendance 22,349.

Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
News
UK Border Control
i100
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn