Woodgate says Spurs can win race for the title


Former Tottenham defender Jonathan Woodgate expects his old club to mount a serious title challenge but is not dwelling on what might have been.

Woodgate was released by the Londoners in the summer after three and a half injury-plagued years at White Hart Lane. The club opted not to retain the 31-year-old because of the cost of insuring him, and he was offered the chance to resurrect his career with Stoke. Woodgate was disappointed at the club's decision but does not hold a grudge and hopes they succeed.

"There's no animosity between me and anyone at Spurs," said Woodgate, who shone against his old team-mates as Stoke clung on for a controversial 2-1 Premier League win over Harry Redknapp's in-form team at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday.

"They're a great side and I wish them all the luck in the world. I think they'll go close to winning the league, if not this year, then next year. I don't want to show anyone anything –I'll do it with my performances. I don't need to show anyone I can still play. I get on with my game and I know Harry Redknapp believes in me, so no problem. I didn't want to leave and he didn't want me to either. But that's life – you've got to get on with it. You move on."

Woodgate, normally a centre-half, was asked by Stoke boss Tony Pulis to fill in at right-back against Spurs. That brought him up against flying winger Gareth Bale but Woodgate survived the test as Stoke claimed victory to end Tottenham's six-match winning streak.

Woodgate said: "I didn't sleep much the other night, to be honest. He's the best winger in the world, more or less."

Spurs started sluggishly and fell behind to two strikes from another of their ex-players, Matthew Etherington, after twice failing to deal with Ryan Shotton throw-ins. They replied with an Emmanuel Adebayor penalty before throwing everything into attack and they were unlucky not to claim a point.

Among a catalogue of near misses, Spurs also had two more penalty appeals for handball declined while Adebayor had another legitimate goal wrongly disallowed for off-side. To compound their misery, Younes Kaboul was sent off and Redknapp rounded on referee Chris Foy afterwards.

Yet despite Spurs' immense misfortune, Woodgate feels that they will have to consider it a chance missed. "Maybe to come here and get a result, maybe grind out a 2-2, even when they go down to 10 men," said Woodgate, when asked what Spurs' missing ingredient is.

"But I think Spurs are an unbelievable team – different class – and they'll go very close to winning the title. The whole team has pace and it's frightening for an opposing team when you know everyone's quick, and with the ability they've got, as well as speed, they're going to be a good side."