Sun, Mar 01, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Redknapp says Cup win eased fears of drop

AFP , LONDON

Harry Redknapp fears Tottenham would be facing relegation from the Premier League if had they failed to reach today’s League Cup final against Manchester United.

Tottenham are deeply embroiled in a survival battle and their season almost slid further into disaster in the League Cup semi-finals against Burnley.

The north Londoners were three minutes away from a hugely embarrassing exit to the Championship side, who canceled out Spurs’ three-goal lead from the first leg at White Hart Lane and were set to progress on away goals before Roman Pavlyuchenko snaffled a decisive late strike at Turf Moor.

Redknapp still shudders at the memory of that dramatic night in Lancashire and he admitted that the “shame” of squandering such a dominant position would have had a corrosive effect on the club’s hopes of staying up.

“The Burnley game was amazing as we had reached a cup final but we were so low,” he said. “The atmosphere in the dressing room and on the team bus was pretty horrendous.”

“That was as angry as I have been since I have been here. I was very, very low so imagine how we would have been if we had gone out,” Redknapp said.

“If we had lost we would have been in desperate trouble because I don’t know how we would have recovered from that,” he said.

“It would certainly have made it very, very difficult for us to have lifted ourselves. The shame of it all, having been three goals up, would have been very difficult to recover from,” Redknapp said.

Defeat would also have inflicted a sizeable dent in Redknapp’s “Houdini” reputation, forged over many years of stirling service with Bournemouth, West Ham and Portsmouth. In the event, however, he is relishing the prospect of once again crossing swords with United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, another soccer veteran whose friendship with Redknapp dates back over 20 years.

Ferguson is rightly regarded as the godfather of modern club management, but the Scot has found Redknapp an irksome opponent on previous red-letter occasions.

Redknapp has enjoyed two notable cup triumphs over the Scot in recent years — once with West Ham and again, last season, with Portsmouth in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

“Alex only knows one thing and that’s winning and he definitely wants to win all five trophies,” Redknapp said. “He is a terrific football man. There are a lot of football managers who are not that interested in the game, but he knows everything about every team and I’m like that.”

“He’s great with younger managers as well. If they ring him up, he is always available and will always return their call,” he said.

“I have also found he is always there if we lose someone. He came to [former Blackburn manager] Ray Harford’s funeral, for example, and that’s fantastic,” Redknapp said.

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