We cannot afford to take our eye off the ball, warns Redknapp
Saturday 01 May 2010
When Harry Redknapp went through the injury news, there was one additional name to the list of usual suspects. The horse he owns, the aptly named Arry's Orse, was due to run in the 3.05 at Newmarket today but has had to pull out with a nasty cough.
"It's pulled out. It's coughing. It's not in a coffin. I think he's looked at the rest of the field and thought, 'I don't fancy that'," Redknapp said with a broad grin. If he is feeling any pressure as Tottenham Hotspur lead the race for fourth place in the Premier League table, he certainly was not showing it yesterday.
Not even the sight of rivals Manchester City signing goalkeeper Marton Fulop from Sunderland on an emergency loan as replacement for the injured Shay Given could dampen Redknapp's affable mood. The Tottenham manager was reminded of New Year's Day 1996 when his West Ham side were without Ludek Miklosko and Les Sealey but were refused permission to sign another goalkeeper and 17-year-old Neil Finn was forced to play in a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City.
Redknapp responded by saying he was not concerned with City's behaviour but added that if it had been him, he would not have looked to sign anyone. "It's not a big deal," he said. "I'm not over-bothered about it. If you've got a goalkeeper I suppose you would use him – if I got an injury here, I would turn to Ben Alnwick, and if he got injured I would play Jimmy Walker, and if he wasn't fit, one of the kids.
"It wouldn't have entered my mind about bringing in another goalkeeper, but if you are allowed to do it, that's not a problem. When I had to draft Finn into the team at West Ham, I was told it was because we had another keeper on the books. They said, 'If you've got a youth keeper, you've got to play him'. Someone has got to play in goal for City, whether it's Fulop or whoever."
Tottenham lead the race for fourth, and are the team with the least to lose in the battle for the final Champions League place. Their rivals Manchester City, Liverpool and Aston Villa were all expected to be challenging for places in the top four, but at the start of the season Tottenham would have been the outsiders. Redknapp made it clear that Spurs have already achieved something substantial this season whether they finish the season in fourth or not: "It's a successful season to be where we are and to play the football we've played. We've come an awful long way and we have played some excellent football at times. To finish fourth and then worry about the Champions League next season would be wonderful. But if we don't we will have given it our best shot. We really want to achieve that now because we have been up there all year, scrapping away to get fourth spot."
Redknapp talked with the confidence of a man whose team takes on Bolton at White Hart Lane today, knowing they have won their last five home league games, including most recently their famous victories over Arsenal and Chelsea. He may also give Aaron Lennon his first start since December although he is wary of rushing him back too quickly.
"We need to beat Bolton and not take our eye of the ball," he said. "It's the last home game and we want to win. We need another performance like those against Arsenal and Chelsea."
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