Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tottenham Cruise Past Pompey, as Redknapp Takes a Subtle Pop at Rafa, Man City

Tottenham Hotspur cantered to an easy 2-0 win over Portsmouth in their FA Cup dress rehersal yesterday, giving Spurs a five-point advantage over their nearest rivals in the battle for fourth.

However, on the eve of the game, Harry Redknapp, the Lilywhites' manager, had a subtle dig at Rafael Benitez and Manchester City over their extravagant spending.

The result was never in doubt. It was always going to be a case of by how many Spurs were going to win by. In the end, the affair was settled by two first-half goals, first from Peter Crouch and then from Niko Krancjar.

For their part, Tottenham never had to get out of first gear and after the first goal went in, the game took on something of a procession. Pompey were abject and one begins to wonder if the slow dawning of relegation and all it entails has finally hit them.

It only compounded matters for Portsmouth that two of their ex-players scored while the win for Champions League chasing Spurs was orchestrated by their old manager.

Redknapp left Pompey for relegation-threatened Tottenham in October 2008, and has since turned them into one of the best sides in the league.

On the eve of the match, Harry Redknapp had a very subtle dig at Rafael Benitez and Manchester City for their garish spending over the last five years and this season, respectively.

Under Benitez, Liverpool have spent £210 million in six seasons while Manchester City have spent almost that figure alone since Sheik Mansour took over in 2008.

In his 26 years as a manager across almost every division and six clubs, Harry Redknapp has spent £208 million and re-couped an incredible £230 million. To read his transfer and career history click here .

The Spurs boss maintains that there are real bargains out there and that all clubs and managers have to do is take a little time and analyse the transfer market properly.

His adroit dealings certainly make Redknapp look like one of the better managers operating today.

Redknapp said: “You can find players. There are some out there. I took Kanu off the park when I was at Portsmouth. He was not playing. He was training on his own.

“He didn’t have a club four days before the league started. I didn’t have a second forward.

“I am sitting there and thinking ‘Where has he gone after he was a free at West Brom? They said that he had gone nowhere, so I tracked him down and got him in.”

“Its not about spending lots of money. Its about spending the money on the right players," he added.

“And there are players. When I took Kanu, people who worked with me said ‘He’s finished Harry, you can’t take him. I said ‘no’ and I took him and he did fantastic for us.”

Niko Kranjcar is a prime example of Redknapp's eye for a bargain. Less than a year after Portsmouth turned down £13.5 million for him from Arsenal, Spurs were able to sign the player for just £2 million after he refused to sign a new contract at the South Coast club.

He has gone on to become on of Tottenham's most important players this season, and has been instrumental in their climb towards fourth place.

As the league stands, Spurs are five points ahead of Manchester City who have a game in hand, and seven points clear of Liverpool.

The two Northern clubs remain favourites to finish in fourth as Tottenham have the hardest possible run in, including three games against Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester United in the space of 10 days.

By firing the most elusive of opening shots, Redknapp is indicating to his team that they will have to fight against everybody and that everything is against them as they strive to finish as high as possible.

There is also the small matter of an upcoming FA Cup Semi-Final against Portsmouth at Wembley to deal with, and should Tottenham overcome them they will be all set for one of the greatest finales to their season in a long time.