Sunday 20 August 2017

Redknapp stays positive after Spurs reality check

Spurs 1 Wolves 1 Jim White

There were those leaving White Hart Lane, their faces longer than a Steven Spielberg horse movie, seemingly convinced they had just witnessed their team surrender their title chances.

Three points against Wolves, the perennial strugglers, needed to be banked to insulate against trickier fixtures ahead -- particularly next weekend's visit to Manchester City, when the loan rules insist they will be without their most potent striker, Emmanuel Adebayor. Instead, Spurs were left with only the one.

Harry Redknapp, however, was not among the gloomy. Sure, he would have preferred a win, but this stalemate was not badly timed. It will have reminded everyone that the idea Tottenham were champions-in-waiting was a tad over-optimistic. They remain a work in progress.

"It was always going to be a hard game," Redknapp said. "I never said we were going to win the title, I just said we were in with a chance."

That was not an unreasonable response. After all, he was not responsible for the media excitement around his club ahead of this fixture. It was not him who had ratcheted up the expectation among his supporters to the point that, as it gradually dawned that the assumed landslide of goals was not forthcoming, they became consumed with groaning disquiet.

In short, Saturday was a reality check at Tottenham. Not least for Redknapp's players who, reflecting the crowd's edginess, snatched at opportunity -- of their 22 shots, only 10 were on target. And some, particularly from the yellow boots of Gareth Bale, were so off-kilter they posed more threat to the crowd than the Wolves goal.

Acutely aware of Spurs' strength, Mick McCarthy spent the afternoon in his technical area instructing his players to flood midfield, to hit their opponents' creativity early and hard. Spurs were blocked at every turn by a wall of gold shirts as the pairing of Karl Henry and the Arsenal loanee Emmanuel Frimpong gave Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart little time.

Steven Fletcher stunned Spurs by firing Wolves ahead after 22 minutes, pouncing on the ball in a scramble following a corner. As Kyle Walker and Younes Kaboul piled forward to join in attacks, reward eventually came when Modric equalised from a Bale pull-back.

With half an hour remaining, the crowd seemed certain victory would follow. But to win a league title, more is required than mere assumption. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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