The "Happy Harry" persona had been discarded. With a face that made thunder seem cheerful, Harry Redknapp confronted the world and made no attempt at levity. No trademark quips, no barrow-boy charm. He was seriously fed up and the mood was going to spread.
"If I told you how upset I am you'd never believe me," the Tottenham Hotspur manager said. "I'll try to lift myself over the weekend, which isn't easy. I have a shit weekend coming up, so have the family and anyone else who gets near me." Maybe the Redknapp household was not the place to go to for Sunday lunch.
The immediate reason for Redknapp's gloom was obvious. Spurs had dragged themselves back from 2-0 down thanks to two goals from Darren Bent and if you had been forced to pick a winner then Tottenham were the obvious choice. Then, for the third time in the match, the visitors failed to defend a high ball and Kevin Davies scored Bolton Wanderers' winner at the near post.
Redknapp was furious that, for the fourth time in recent weeks, points had been surrendered to fellow toilers thanks to goals in the final minutes, but the realisation of the task ahead of him also weighed heavily. Jermain Defoe, his £14m striker, will be missing for several weeks with a foot injury, and the introduction of Wilson Palacios and Pascal Chimbonda might have bought an improvement but the defeats keep coming.
"I'm not going to say I'm not worried about relegation, everyone in the bottom half of the League is," he said before dismissing any talk of being too good to go down. "Why?" he retorted. "Tottenham had a man before me who is now manager of Real Madrid and they had two points from eight games."
The weak point, ruthlessly exposed by Bolton in this game, was an inability to deal with anything more than six inches above the ground. Sébastien Puygrenier and Davies scored with headers and, in between, the goal arrived directly from another feeble bit of aerial defending that allowed Gary Cahill to flick on. "We're not a big side," Redknapp conceded. "The two centre-halves apart, you are lucky to find too many players in the team who you could call real headers of the ball." The pint-sized Robbie Keane would be ideal then.
It is not a problem Bolton, packed with strapping six footers, suffer from and nor did they appear to miss the transferred Kevin Nolan too much. Their manager, Gary Megson, may be irritated that his club captain was sold to Newcastle United but he called his seven senior players together on Friday and the response was impressive. "I asked the question 'What did Kevin bring to the club?' The main things were his leadership and his character in the dressing room. We agreed we needed to replace that with what we have got.
I thought Kevin Davies did that in abundance today and other people have got to step up."
Megson expects to be busy today trying to bring in the two players needed to eradicate the possibility of relegation. "I think it will be a mad scramble," he said with a degree of scorn. "The window – and I have said this all the way through – is an absolute nonsense. It's creating a spiral of prices going up that is great for one group of people: agents. It's not great for football. I have never come across anyone who thinks the transfer window is a good idea."
For once, Redknapp, the grand master of the January window, seemed tired with it too.
Goals: Puygrenier (31) 1-0; K Davies (64) 2-0; Bent (73) 2-1; Bent (75) 2-2; K Davies (87) 3-2.
Bolton Wanderers (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; Steinsson, Cahill, Puygrenier (A O'Brien, 79), Samuel; K Davies, M Davies, Muamba, Gardner, Taylor; Makukula (Smolarek, 61). Substitutes not used: Al Habsi (gk), Basham, Riga, Shittu, Obadeyi.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-1-1): Cudicini; Corluka (Chimbonda, 68), Dawson, Woodgate, Assou-Ekotto; Bentley, Palacios, Zokora (Jenas, h-t), Lennon; Modric (Bent, h-t); Pavlyuchenko. Substitutes not used: Alnwick (gk), Bale, Huddlestone, Campbell.
Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire)
Booked: Tottenham Dawson.
Man of the match: K Davies.
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