Friday, July 23, 2010

Harry Redknapp: Spurs Can Win the EPL, but Man City Will, Eventually...

Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Rednapp has declared that his team are just four players short of winning the Premier League, and that Manchester City will win the title eventually, given the resources they enjoy.
Ahead of Tottenham's pre-season game with New York Red Bulls, the Spurs manager was asked "What were his teams chances this year?"

With a rye look across the room to Manchester City's Roberto Mancini, as the Citizens manager attended The Barclay's New York Challenge press conference with his team facing Sporting Lisbon, he had this to say:
"If I went out now and brought in the four players I wanted from anywhere, we would win the title.
"If we went out and bought four world-class players, no matter what the price, we would have a fantastic chance.
“Manchester City will be a massive factor in the title race this season. They will eventually win the championship, whether it is this year, next year or the year after. It is only a matter of time until they win the Premier League – that’s my opinion. They have got such tremendous backing.
“And there is every chance it will be this season. They are only going to get stronger.
“We know they are strong and have a good squad anyway and they can keep bringing in the best players. It has happened before. Chelsea came in and Roman Abramovich brought in the best players and they won the championship. Now Manchester City have every chance."
So far this season, Manchester City have been the biggest spending team in the world having signed Jerome Boateng, David Silva, and Yaya Toure for a combined fee of £60 million with the Ivorian claiming a weekly wage of £220,000 per week, making him the highest paid player in England.
Bookmakers have since slashed City's odds from 30/1 to, a third favourite, 5/1 as contenders to Chelsea's title. Their spending only seems to be heating up as expected bids of £30 million for Aston Villa's James Milner and a £50 million bid for Liverpool's Fernando Torres seem just around the corner.
However, despite being gazumped by Liverpool for Joe Cole's signature and not being able to match the finances of City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United or Liverpool, Redknapp feels that this could be the year for his young side to push on to the next level.
“You have to aim to win the title,” he said. “Last year we went in saying we wanted to finish in the top four and, if you don’t aim for things, you have no chance.
“I would say it would take something very special for a team like Tottenham to win the Premier League. The ability to bring in top, top players gives you that extra yard.
“But somebody has got to do it. It can’t all just be Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.”
Many now feel that this is the year to make a concerted challenge for the title. There are no great sides in the league who really stand out and with luck any contending team could push on.
Liverpool (10/1) are already looking much better under Roy Hodgeson that at any stage under Rafael Benitez last season and have shot in a fifth favourites to win the title at 10/1. They still need some major rebuilding though and their wily manager will have to work wonders in the transfer market if they are to achieve anything this year.
And despite their well known financial difficulties, £450 million in debt and losing £110,000 a day, they were still able to offer Joe Cole more than either Spurs or Arsenal, £18.7 million over four years.
Chelsea (13/10) are an aging squad in need of rejuvenation and Carlo Ancellotti let a large number of high profile players including Joe Cole and Michael Ballack leave the club in the summer as he looks to bring in youth. So far, Yossi Benayoun from Liverpool has been added to his hard working midfield.
Arsenal's (7/1) problems are well known. Despite finishing third last season and actually being in the lead at one stage they were never going to win the title.
For title contenders they have a very weak spine, and are in dire need of at least three players to add to Marouane Chamakh's signing with the priority being a top class goalkeeper and central defender, without either they may drop out of the top four, without both they have no chance of winninf anything.
Manchester United (5/2) are also a club who look like they are in decline.
Alex Ferguson is obviously hamstrung by the clubs massive debts, and he simply cannot compete for the top players of the game.
The Red Devils have more problem areas than the rest of the top four but their squad is comparably strong, only City are really improving.
Midfield has huge question marks over it, as does centre half and centre forward, Dimitar Berbatov in particular.
If you are looking for value then Spurs at 50/1 could provide a good each-way bet, many punters think so and Redknapp is one of the shrewdest men around a racetrack so maybe he knows a thing or two. Tottenham did only finish five points behind the Gunners and now find their odds substantially higher.
Given the stagnation at other clubs, Redknapp feels that this could be the right year for Spurs, “I feel we could contend for the title. We have got the players here. We have to aim for it. We could win the championship – it is not impossible.”
Despite Redknapp's brave words, it is more likely that Spurs will once again challenge for the top four, however, they could be easily distracted by the UEFA Champions League.
“The Champions League is massive,” he said. “Forget budgets—we just want to be there. If we can get into the group stages, we can make an impact.
"We have good players—some fantastic ones at our club. And they can get better. That is why you need a strong squad. We are going to have to rotate at times – we cannot play the best players all the time. I still feel that, if we can bring one or two players in, it will make a difference, but it is a strong squad.”
So far this summer Spurs have only signed Brazilian U20 captain Sandro for £6 million from Internacional but, as usual, have been linked with a bevy of high profile players. However, Redknapp and Daniel Levy have found, much to their dismay, that the difference in wages demanded by Champions League level players and Europa League level players is vast.
Spurs have already missed out on Simon Kjaer and Joe Cole after they chose Wolfsburg and Liverpool respectively.
Now it looks as if Taye Taiwo of Marseille fame looks set to move to Spain while long term target Mouassa Sissoko has also come under Roberto Mancini's radar.
“We cannot do that without breaking the bank and then you are going to put the club in trouble, going into hock,” said Redknapp.
“We don’t want to do that, it is not our way. We are not going to go crazy and spend £200,000 a week to sign players. We were disappointed to miss out on Joe Cole because he was a great free transfer and he must have had a better offer from Liverpool. I signed him when he was 11 and he is an excellent player.
“I don’t know why he decided to go to Liverpool. I spoke to him a month ago and I thought he was coming here. He wanted to come to Tottenham. He had made up his mind—I had no doubt about that. But a month went by and, by that time, Liverpool had moved in and maybe jumped the queue a bit.
“I’m sure if Joe says it is football reasons, it is. Liverpool are a fantastic club. They seem to be a real threat again. The year before last, they lost only two games. Last year, they had one bad season by their standards. If we bought four world-class players, we’d win the league."
There is little doubt that Spurs have improved immensely in just 18 months under Redknapp, and having made the step up to finish fourth they will find that the step up to finishing third will be twice as hard.
They will have to look ahead and behind them at the same time as well as look to their real hopes of silverware, the FA Cup and League Cup, and have to contend with the brutal world of the Champions League.
It will be no easy task for a team with very little big game experience. Spurs have yet to win away to a big four team in 66 attempts, and the types of challenges they face in Europe will be even tougher and less forgiving.
It is imperative for Redknapp and Spurs that they do not underestimate teams from smaller footballing countries. In most cases these kind of teams are almost international in their composition, and more often than not they represent a best of the best type team.
When Manchester United started travelling to Europe in the early '90s, it was this particular challenge that caught out many players, and it took that great club almost 10 years to gain the experience needed to win the trophy.
Spurs will have their fingers in many pies next season, and it is highly likely that Redknapp will follow Arsene Wenger's suit and give his youngsters and reserves the League Cup to play in.
Should Spurs progress to the group stages of the Champions League, and then from the group stage it would be very likely that this particular tactic would be reused for the FA Cup in January.
There is no doubting that Spurs and Redknapp are sailing into uncharted territory, how they deal with the many challenges that lie in wait will have a huge say in the make-up of the top four come May.