Club Focus – Tottenham – Tall stories dominate while Reebok win proves too tall an order

Tottenham have never won at the Reebok Stadium. Their last win at Bolton in the league came at the Trotters’ old Burnden Park home in 1996, and that result remains their only win on Bolton soil since the name Division One was scrapped for the marketing-friendly Premiership/Premier League tag. Nothing changed this weekend with the sides playing out an exciting 2-2 draw, but it was a match overshadowed by some bizarre rumours printed in the nation’s favourite fish and chips wrappings. If the thought of Robbie Keane abandoning Tottenham for a spell playing against the likes of Hamilton Academicals and St Johnstone in a Celtic shirt seemed far-fetched, then the notion that Harry Redknapp was about to walk out on the club was less likely than a conference call between leprechauns, unicorns and flying pigs.

Starting with the story that could just about be filed away in the ‘stranger things have happened’ drawer, those fantasy football lovers at The Sun decided to print a story suggesting Spurs are ready to let Keane move to Celtic Park in January. A rather tenuous link between Keane’s Irish birth certificate and Celtic’s Hibernian heritage could just about make the story plausible, not that such details made it to print, but can anyone really see him swapping the upper echelons of the Premier League for the SPL? As a striker still at the height of his powers and a regular starter for a Spurs team enjoying their best campaign in years, why would he lower himself to Celtic’s level? Transfer policy at Scotland’s biggest clubs, Celtic and Rangers, generally seems to equate to them buying Championship level players and then selling other squad members on to Championship clubs. Lee Naylor, Glen Loovens and Willo Flood are examples of the level of players purchased by Celtic whilst players once deemed good enough for the Old Firm like Alan Gow and Charlie Adam have ended up at Plymouth and Blackpool respectively. How The Sun proposes that Celtic could afford a man of Keane’s talents, who has been bought for around £20m by two clubs in the last 15 months, is beyond comprehension.

Even more baffling than the Keane suggestion are the insane murmurings over the weekend that Redknapp was about to depart White Hart Lane. Such was the strength of the rumour’s growth, bookies even slashed the odds on his departure to evens, and in some cases odds-on. Where the story came from in the first place is unclear. The scenario is as thus: a highly respected manager gets his first chance at a massive club, a club that he supported as a boy. Having spent several happy years at Portsmouth over two stints, he opted to leave only because of the massive draw of being manager of Spurs. He turns the fortunes of his new club around after they had endured a nightmare start under the previous manager, narrowly missing out on a place in European competition. He then leads the club to their best start to a season in years, with talk bubbling of qualification for the Champions League, and even of a crack at the title. Rumours then circulate that he wants to give it up after just a year, possibly to even return to the club he left for the opportunity in the first place – a club which had lost all its games and faced financial ruin. It does not quite ring true, does it?

For some reason, Redknapp has found himself facing endless questioning as to the truth of the rumours. His response? Categorical denial. He said: “It is utter nonsense, I couldn’t be more happy than I am now with Spurs.” Asked directly if he was leaving Tottenham, he joked: “Yeah, I’m leaving. We’re off to Bolton in two hours.” The 62-year-old admittedly has a history of walking out on clubs, famously leaving Southampton to return to rivals Portsmouth. Things are different now. He has never had it as good as he finds his situation at Tottenham. He has a promising squad, money to spend and the chance to fulfill a lifelong ambition and lead his boyhood side to success. His time at Portsmouth has left him with a legacy of police investigations into corruption and a return to Fratton Park would only mean further financial troubles – with the south coast club reportedly failing to pay players and creditors in recent weeks. Anyone with an ounce of sense can see that this story is taller than Peter Crouch, so just how has it grown so big? If you are thinking of sticking your money on a long shot at the bookies, you would probably get a better return backing Labour at the next General Election than you will get on Redknapp leaving Spurs anytime soon.

Tottenham Club Focus

Defoe dazzles but may remain an England substitute – September 8
Redknapp to thank for Lennon renaissance – September 11
Spurs fail first big test – September 15
Transfer budget not affected by new training complex – September 18
Honesty not always the best policy in football– September 22
Redknapp almost spoilt for choice – September 25
Four-Star Robbie serves up timely reminder – September 29 Versatile Huddlestone is two for the price of one – October 2 Tall stories dominate while Reebok win proves too tall an order – October 6

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