HARRY REDKANPP refused to use Tottenham’s distress over Fabrice Muamba as an excuse after watching his side crash out of the Premier League’s top three for the first time in more than three months.
Spurs could only manage a 1-1 draw against Stoke last night, with bitter rivals Arsenal winning at Everton to leapfrog them.
Tottenham agreed to play yesterday’s game at White Hart Lane despite it coming just four days after the Bolton midfielder’s collapse there.
Both sets of players wore T-shirts during the warm-up which read, ‘Get well soon, Fabrice’ and there was also a minute’s applause for the |23-year-old.
But Spurs manager Redknapp was adamant his players had not been adversely affected by the emotion of the four days leading up to kick-off.
“No, not at all,” he said. “Nothing affects them – they’ve been ready to play. I’d be making excuses if I said that.”
Redknapp also insisted his players had not lost their nerve in the race for a top-four place.
Redknapp said: “People can look at it as much as they want.
”We’re all disappointed to have had a blip at this time of the season but we’ve got to come out of that now, we’ve got to keep going.”
A defiant Redknapp told Arsenal the race for third place was not over.
Tottenham were heading for a fourth successive league defeat before Rafael van der Vaart came to the rescue with a stoppage-time equaliser, but Redknapp said: “Arsenal can think it’s all over. It’s not all over. There’s a long way to go yet.” Redknapp revealed he lied to his players at half-time to motivate them, telling them fifth-placed Chelsea were winning at Manchester City.
He added: “It didn’t work, did it, obviously, because we only drew!”
Stoke looked set for victory when Cameron Jerome prodded them ahead with 15 minutes remaining.
And manager Tony Pulis insisted his side had been as affected as any other by what happened to Muamba. “I think everybody suffered from the events on Saturday – I don’t think it’s just Tottenham,” he said.