Hold The Back Page: 09/04/2011

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The Independent Online

It's a big weekend for...

Redknapp's Tottenham

There was a sense in the Bernabeu on Tuesday that Harry Redknapp's Tottenham Hotspur, the great Boy's Own story of the last few years, might have peaked.

Now six points short of Manchester City, Spurs need to win and win again, starting with today's home game with Stoke. Like David O'Leary's Leeds, but with a human face, Spurs' unlikely adventures have thrilled neutrals; a throwback to the time when the European Cup was difficult and exotic. But, quite rightly for a side who exist to surprise, Spurs have struggled against lesser sides. Wigan have already won at the Lane this year, and if Stoke do so today, this great book in the Spurs story may not be granted a sequel next year.

We applaud you wholeheartedly

Joey Barton's 'truth'-telling

For all the violence, the crime, the acts of malice and cowardice, there is something compelling about Joey Barton. He is, pace Clarke Carlisle, the most intelligent and articulate English footballer of his generation. So his pronouncements this week were of particular interest. Of course, he is no disinterested observer when it comes to England midfielders. But there is something of his contempt for the "Golden Generation" that appeals to supporters, and his diagnosis of the flaws of the English game is astute. And while his critique of Gareth Barry did, as is so often the case with Barton, stray rather wilfully into unpleasantness, who can argue which was the better servant of Manchester City?

Plus the stories you may have missed

Red Sox spend and struggle

A morality tale for money in sport. Boston Red Sox spent big last winter, recruiting Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford on $167m (£102) and $142m deals respectively. They have started the 2011 season, though, with six straight defeats; their worst opening streak since Franklin Roosevelt was president. Fernando Torres looks good value.

Luna The Cow's bit of horseplay

The strangest misdeployment since Emile Heskey on the wing: a German girl has started showjumping, with Luna the cow. Regina Mayer's parents would not buy her a horse. So she used Luna to prance over obstacles instead.