The chance to win a second Carling Cup in three seasons may have passed Tottenham by, but the players and staff are adamant that there are bigger prizes still to be played for this time around. A win for Spurs against Manchester United would have meant that all of the Big Four had missed out on the semi-finals, leaving Harry Redknapp’s side with an excellent chance of the silverware. It was not to be and Spurs are more than happy to write the midweek defeat of as just a blip.
Even before a ball was kicked, Redknapp was publically letting it be known that his priorities lay in chasing Champions League qualification. Referring to potential progression in the Carling Cup, he said: “Wembley is a great day out but I would love to get into a Champions League position with Spurs. You can win a cup and have a bit of luck on the way but to get to a Champions League position would be done through a whole season. It would be great for us.” The manager is focused on the club’s future growth, and he pointed out that one-off cup wins are not the key to sustained success: “ “If you win it everybody enjoys it but Tottenham won it two years ago and then went into freefall. It didn’t do them any good.” His team selection, whilst still filled with genuine quality, supported his claims, with Alan Hutton, Gareth Bale and David Bentley getting rare run outs.
Redknapp’s assistant, Kevin Bond, was more disappointed with the performance than the result. Having been the better side early in the game, Spurs seemed to lose heart once they fell behind and lacked the character that has been prevalent so far this season. Bond was unable to put his finger on exactly what went wrong but he hypothesised that the players may have lacked the confidence required to get a result at Old Trafford. Even without several of United’s leading lights in their line up, it is a long time since the Champions were beaten at home by Spurs, and this never looked like changing once the score hit 2-0. Bond said: “We seemed to lack the belief that we could get back into the game after going 2-0 behind. With how we started the game we thought we could cause them problems and we all felt this was a chance to progress, but it wasn’t to be.”
Bond was happy to stick to the company line, saying: “I’m sure it will be a one-off. Up until this point the lads have been fantastic this season but this was a big disappointment. Hopefully it’s something that won’t be repeated.” The sentiments were echoed by striker Peter Crouch who joined the action as a second half substitute. The England World Cup hopeful stated: “We’ve done fantastically well so far this season. Hopefully it’s a one-off and we now have to focus on the league and the FA Cup, starting with Everton on Sunday.”
Another player looking forward to the game with the Toffees is midfielder Niko Kranjcar. The Croatian was missing from the team at Old Trafford due to his participation earlier in the competition in a Portsmouth shirt and so is fresh for the Goodison Park challenge after a week’s rest. Kranjcar is enjoying his time at White Hart Lane and was full of praise for his Lilywhites colleagues. He enthused: “We have the players, the team and the form to go there and beat Everton. I’m so confident in the team and the players around me and the form we’re in that we can go up there and go for the three points.” Kranjcar also acknowledged that their opponents on Sunday are not having a very good time at the moment but insisted that this does not make it an easy trip for Spurs: “They are having a tough time at the moment in the league but that won’t help us because they will do everything to try and win the game We know they will be hurt by losing to Liverpool and we know exactly what to expect when we go to Goodison Park.”
Two of Kranjcar’s predecessors in the Tottenham midfield, Darren Anderton and Steffen Freund, have just been inducted to the club’s Hall of Fame in a ceremony at White Hart Lane. Former German international Freund has spoken of his delight at receiving the honour, and revealed he looks back on his time at Spurs fondly. He beamed: “It’s a real honour, I’m really proud; it’s something very special for me. Every time I played at White Hart Lane it meant so much. I used to go there, do my job with 100 per cent commitment and try to win games for Tottenham.”