Redknapp rolls out one-liners in bid to deflect pressure from faltering Spurs
The pressure has risen sharply on Tottenham in recent weeks, but yesterday manager Harry Redknapp released the valve a little with a familiar tactic: he used humour. It was classic Redknapp.
Anecdotes and one-liners flowed as freely as Spurs' football had earlier in this campaign, when they were threatening to challenge for the Premier League title before now simply fretting on a top-four finish.
Yesterday, it was all about deflecting the attention from the players, some of whom appear to have hit the wall, and who are preparing to face Chelsea today knowing that defeat will raise the real prospect of blowing Champions League qualification.
Not that the likes of Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Redknapp said, would know there was a game at Stamford Bridge -- a venue where Spurs have not been victorious since February 1990 when they triumphed 2-1 and Gary Lineker scored. It was the last time Spurs finished in the top three.
"If I said to Benoit we have not won at Chelsea, he wouldn't have a clue," Redknapp said. "He probably doesn't even know we are playing Chelsea tomorrow until we tell him later on. And that is genuine. He wouldn't look at the fixtures. He would turn up and say, 'What time is the coach tomorrow, gaffer'. And that's it."
That, Redknapp contended, was typical of the modern player -- as would be the reaction if he did decamp and become the next England manager, with the 65-year-old dismissing as "nonsense" a suggestion that Spurs' anxiety -- one win in five league games since Fabio Capello quit, and usurped by Arsenal -- might be linked.
"The players don't care whether I'm the Spurs manager next year, they wouldn't lose any sleep over that or whoever comes," he said. "Footballers are footballers, they play the game. They don't worry, 'Oh Harry is going to England or he's going to go somewhere else'. It don't happen that way."
There was more. Would finishing in the top four enable Spurs to sign better players in the summer? "It's like the chairman who went in before a cup final and said, 'come on lads we have to win the cup today so we can afford some good players for next season', you know?" Redknapp responded.
Redknapp is the same in the dressing-room. He wasn't going to get bogged down in the minutiae of what has gone wrong -- why should he? -- and wasn't going to engage in what might happen -- why would he?
With nine games to go, that disarming ability might prove as crucial as his players' mental resolve and his own tactical nous if he is going to unlock his team again. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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