Tue, Aug 04, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Redknapp now carrying weight of expectations

AFP , LONDON

Robbie Keane of Tottenham Hotspur, left, controls the ball after an attempted tackle by South China’s Lee Wai-lun, center, during a friendly match in Hong Kong on Sunday.

PHOTO: AP

Harry Redknapp’s rescue act at Tottenham Hotspur last season has created its own pressure and the manager knows he now carries a heavy weight of expectation into Tottenham’s upcoming campaign.

Cut adrift with just two points from eight games when Redknapp succeeded Juande Ramos, Spurs were transformed under the new man and only just missed out on a place in the Europa League.

Inevitably then, the question now being asked is if Redknapp can achieve that in just 30 league games, what will he be capable of over the course of a whole season?

The manager himself believes the existing Spurs squad is good enough to challenge for the top six, but his ambition of challenging for the top four looks as though it will remain unfulfilled unless he manages to indulge in some of his trademark wheeler-dealing and strengthen a squad that still lacks quality in key areas.

The concern at the moment is that he has so far failed to complete the deals for his main targets, while struggling to offload the expensive dead weight. Players such as David Bentley and Roman Pavlyuchenko are surplus to requirements and the manager is desperate to move them on.

That would boost the funds already available to him as he seeks the three or four players he said he needed to mount a meaningful challenge on a Champions League spot when he pondered Spurs’ future prospects toward the end of last season.

There’s no doubt Tottenham have been connected with a number of quality players, in particular Real Madrid’s Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, whose wage demands have so far proved prohibitive.

While the manager has mused publicly about the possibility of bringing former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira back to the Premier League from Inter.

Redknapp has been forced to rethink his immediate priorities, however, after unexpectedly losing his three main centerbacks — skipper Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate and Michael Dawson — to injuries that are likely to force the trio to miss the opening weeks.

Last season underlined the importance of a good start and if Spurs are forced to start the campaign with a makeshift central defensive pairing of midfielder Tom Huddlestone and fullback Vedran Corluka, they could lose ground that would be difficult to claw back.

Redknapp’s success last year was in introducing organization and discipline into a group of players who rarely gelled when Ramos was at the helm.

In Spurs’ sights are local rivals Arsenal, whose grip on fourth spot looks to have been weakened by another summer of inactivity in the transfer market, but Manchester City, Everton and Aston Villa also have reason to believe they can overhaul Arsene Wenger’s side. That battle will be closely fought, but Redknapp has been around the block too many times to be worn down by the demands placed on him by Tottenham’s expectant fans.

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