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John Giles: Real regrets for Redknapp

WHEN Real Madrid's legion of stars is handed the freedom of the Bernabeu, there's usually only one result.

Spurs never turned up and within minutes of the start, the only question was by how much.

All Real Madrid's stars took a turn entertaining us but when a serious test is presented to them in the semifinals, I would have my doubts about their ability to perform as well.

It's a pity that Spurs' Champions League adventure should end in the way it has. Short of a miracle, Harry Redknapp will have time to think long and hard about his players and their approach to this quarter-final.


It is unlikely that Spurs will get another go at it next season and for that reason, Redknapp will have big regrets.

I know Aaron Lennon was struck down by some last-gasp illness and Peter Crouch was harshly treated when he was shown the red card but even in the short spell before he was shown the door, Real Madrid were comfortably on top.

Every time I see a player go to the line for a second yellow, I'm more and more certain that the game needs some sort of sin bin.

Crouch lunged foolishly but he got the ball and Marcelo dived, so I don't think he deserved to leave the pitch.

But that aside, Spurs just didn't play at any stage in the game and to add insult to injury Heurelho Gomes handed them two of the four they ended up with.

When you can throw Kaka on as a substitute with the clock running down, it hardly needs to be said that Jose Mourinho has a fantastic squad of players.

But I've seen enough of them this season to feel big doubts about Mourinho's defence if a team is equipped and willing to have a go at them.

Spurs do have the players but they didn't have the attitude. I hoped Redknapp would tell them to have a go but I think he was caught between two minds, and his players looked slightly overwhelmed by the stadium and the occasion.

So Spurs bow out, or will do after the formality of the second-leg at White Hart Lane, and the Premier League has just two left standing.


I must say, I find it very difficult to separate Manchester United and Chelsea. In the end, as always, it will come down to decisions Alex Ferguson and Carlo Ancelotti make and of the two, the Italian has the biggest call on his plate. Drogba or Torres?

The simple view is that Drogba has found a reason to play again after months of inconsistency and a particularly poor run since Torres arrived at the club.

Whether it was Roman Abramovich or Ancelotti who made the decision to buy Torres is neither here nor there as far as Drogba is concerned.

It was a clear signal to him that his days were numbered. Some players react to such circumstances by raising their game – Carlos Tevez springs to mind – and others sulk.

Drogba is a sulker but he's looking for another club now and what better shop window than a Champions League quarter-final against Manchester United, a team he has done well against over the years.

On the other side of the coin is Torres and Ancelotti knows that he holds a spell over Nemanja Vidic, the granite foundation of Alex Ferguson's season so far.

Vidic seems to unravel at the sight of Torres and that might be a persuasive argument in the Spaniard’s favour when Ancelotti makes his final choice.

Would Vidic be the very target Torres needs to rediscover his scoring boots and start to repay some of the very big fee Abramovich had to shell out to get him?

Personally, I would go for Drogba who is showing some form at a time when Torres cannot score to save his life.

Wayne Rooney was in that position not so long ago, but even playing badly, he found a way to score a hat-trick last weekend before spoiling it with his X-rated outburst.


There is no excuse for such a blatant disregard for all the kids who were watching the game and I fail to see why he is appealing the ban he received.

He is clearly under enormous pressure for some reason or other and he can't even enjoy the simple pleasure of scoring a goal without getting himself into bother.

It's not good to watch and whatever else happens this summer, Rooney needs a long spell away from the spotlight to sort himself out.