Spurs' complacency leaves Redknapp fuming
Tottenham 0 Wigan 1
Published 29/08/2010 | 05:00
Tottenham welcomed a Wigan team whose aggregate score in their three previous league outings was 0-18 and who were humiliated 9-1 here last November.
That count now stands at 1-18, courtesy of a Hugo Rodallega goal that gave Roberto Martinez's men their first points of the season and left Harry Redknapp incandescent.
The Spurs manager was equable enough afterwards but admitted his disquiet. "I'm not happy, I'm not going to be full of the joys of spring tonight," he said. The first-half display left him angry enough to take off the clumsy Benoit Assou-Ekotto, and he also lost Peter Crouch, scorer of three in the 4-0 midweek demolition of Young Boys that swept Spurs into the Champions League group stage, to a suspected rib injury.
Crouch, like many of his colleagues, was anonymous, producing one of those halves where, despite his height, he was still bested for most aerial balls by an opponent. Assou-Ekotto was guilty of showboating, and after 13 minutes lost possession too near Carlo Cudicini's goal before the ball proceeded to pinball off him for what, at this early stage, was yet another Wigan corner.
This had Redknapp screaming to his bench, "How many more times?" as his defence were already counting blessings for an earlier Steve Gohouri shot that had hit the bar, rather than giving Wigan a deserved lead.
Before kick-off, Redknapp had warned his men to forget their midweek Champions League success and switch back to the day job of producing Premier League performances, but they failed to listen. Yet, asked the inevitable question about whether the display was due to a European hangover, Redknapp said, "Not really. It's been a good week, we went to Stoke and won, and then we won the Champions League game 4-0."
Tom Huddlestone was lucky to stay on for the second half, and he had hardly improved by the time Phil Dowd blew the final whistle. The sure touch and decision-making for which the 23-year-old can claim distinction were absent and his debit account included too many errant passes and the yellow card with which he closed the opening 45 minutes.
Any promising moves from the home side involved Defoe, particularly before the break. The England striker, who scored five in that rout last season, force Ali al-Habsi, the excellent Wigan 'keeper, to palm one attempt away, and a muscular run and shot indicated he trusted the suspect groin, which had threatened his participation.
Not too many of Defoe's colleagues will have escaped a volley from Redknapp at half-time and, though Spurs did respond by retaining more possession, a troubling unease still hampered their play. Even Gareth Bale, superb so far this season, flickered only occasionally and while Redknapp stated that Assou-Ekotto's removal was to allow the Welshman to slot into the left-back position to make runs from deep the tactic failed.
Ten minutes from time, disaster struck. Rodallega's bobbling diagonal shot was jumped over by Carlo Cudicini, who made the mistake that finally gave Wigan a much-needed win.
Redknapp added: "Credit to them, they came and played well. We had a bad day, one of our very rare bad days since I've been here at Tottenham. It was difficult. It's easy when you sit upstairs and look at it but they closed us down."
Martinez was understandably delighted. The type of performance we had today was really of a group of players really committed," the Wigan manager said. "They were prepared to give their lives for each other. "Spurs put a lot of pressure on in the second half and we didn't look under any exposure. We were a team for once, and that allowed the football side to make a difference."