Redknapp knows stakes rise in new year


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The Independent Football

Christmas came late for Harry Redknapp.

Tottenham were the last of the Premier League's leading sides in action in the Boxing Day round of fixtures and, by the time Redknapp sent his side out at Carrow Road on Tuesday night, only Manchester United had recorded a victory.

Tottenham's Gareth Bale-inspired success at Norwich City means they will be four points behind the Manchester clubs if they win their game in hand – against Everton as part of a busy January. Redknapp believes it will be a desperate struggle among the top six clubs to secure the four Champions League spots and the title because, as Boxing Day demonstrated, those from the lower echelons are quite capable of upsetting their supposed betters.

"There are no easy ones," Redknapp said. "Liverpool couldn't beat Blackburn – that was an impossible result. I was driving home [on Boxing Day] and Chelsea drew with Fulham. Yes! Brilliant. I was kicking every ball. I got home and thought, 'Liverpool will get three points, Arsenal will beat Wolves – it's so tight, there are no easy ones.' When you think you are going to get three points, you come unstuck."

As Chelsea adapt to life under Andre Villas-Boas and Kenny Dalglish refashions Liverpool, Tottenham are settled, with their leading players in rich form. It gives Redknapp possibly his best opportunity to finish in the top three. At the very least.

"Tottenham could win the league," he reiterated. "It's not impossible but it's doubtful because the Manchester clubs look so strong. It's a great opportunity. Chelsea will get stronger again and will keep pushing on, Liverpool will get stronger. They have massive backers. Everyone wants to be Champions League – the top four is tough to be in. Who says next year someone doesn't buy a club? Dave Whelan is 75 and may go and retire, there might be a Russian or Arab who comes along and suddenly Wigan are pushing for the top six. That's how it works."

Redknapp's belief that the lesser sides are more able to upset those above will be tested today at Swansea, where Manchester United are the only one of nine visitors to have won this season. But Spurs' record on the road, and the accomplishment with which they have dispatched the likes of Wigan, Wolverhampton, Norwich and Blackburn, has been a significant marker of their improvement. Victory at Swansea would be a seventh away win of the campaign and, with the new year still to be rung, would equal their best performance on the road in a Premier League season.

"Look at our record of winning games away and it has been fantastic," Redknapp said. "Games that, normally, you look at Tottenham and think they are tough games – but we have won."

Redknapp does not expect to be busy when the transfer window opens tonight and yesterday said there is no chance of Carlos Tevez coming to the club, much as he admires the Argentine. "It's not happening," he said. "We are not pursuing it. His wages would be astronomical. Until you get a 60,000 stadium you aren't going to pay the wages that some of the other clubs pay."