Club Focus – Tottenham – Taxing times for Redknapp

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp will have been hoping that his team do not require too many get out of jail cards in their remaining fixtures this season.

Perhaps now he might hope that he does not need one himself. The potential of charges of tax evasion have been circling the Spurs boss for the last couple of years but now two have actually been pressed. The club have reacted to the charges by burying their head in the sand. As far as they are concerned, at least publicly, the matter is non-football related and a private affair for Redknapp. The charges relate to his previous employment at Portsmouth and so do not concern Tottenham. Tax evasion does not carry a maximum sentence and a judge could potentially take a hard line stance with a custodial sentence of any length they deemed worthy if Redknapp is found guilty. Perhaps then Spurs’ hierarchy will be a bit more bothered if their manager is in a cell and not his dugout. Redknapp has always been something of a wheeler-dealer, but there is a giant leap from getting bang for your buck in the transfer market to breaking the laws of HM Revenue and Customs. He is of course innocent until proven guilty but it is an affair he and the team could well do without as the business end of the season approaches.

His focus needs to be 100% on football matters and not worrying about court proceedings and potential repercussions. Presuming his innocence, it will be a stressful and unwanted experience for the 62-year-old. When his home was raided – unlawfully according to the High Court – by City of London Police in November 2007, Redknapp expressed his bitter disappointment at his treatment. Now that he has formally been charged, he will have even greater cause for concern than he will have had during the interim investigation.Former Pompey chairman Milan Mandaric, now in a similar role at Leicester City, has been charged jointly with Redknapp, casting more unwanted dispersions on the already-murky world of football finance. Tottenham have been conspicuous by their absence in all the coverage that money in football has garnered of late, without massive debts and unfathomably funded ownerships to worry about. Having suffered in the past with debt and been punished in 1994 over financial irregularities dating back to Irving Scholar’s reign in the 1980s, Spurs will be keen to avoid becoming embroiled in any new financial controversy. The charges might relate to payments made when Redknapp was the manager of a different club but the fact remains he is the Tottenham boss now that the charges have actually been formalised. This is an unwelcome distraction that all parties will hope is dealt with promptly.

On the pitch, Redknapp’s attentions will be on the upcoming matches his team face. Hull visit White Hart Lane on Saturday and then the team travel to Liverpool in midweek for the hastily rearranged fixture that was snowed off last weekend. The visit of the Tigers brings back memories of the first time Spurs showed their goal-hungry form that has become the theme of this season. After their solid opening day win over the Reds, they travelled to the KC Stadium and demolished Phil Brown’s side 5-1 with Jermain Defoe grabbing a hat-trick. The game also marked the only occasion that Wilson Palacios has found the net in the Lilywhite shirt. Palacios has been the unsung hero of the season, his midfield tenacity and drive adding something that has been lacking from Tottenham’s flowing style in recent years. The Honduran has been a key figure in letting the creative talents of Niko Kranjcar and Luka Modric run free, as demonstrated in the pre-Christmas win over Manchester City when his tireless running overwhelmed the City midfield.

Rumours are circulating that Palacios could soon be joined in midfield by Joe Cole. The England star was linked with Spurs last summer but no move materialised and now the speculation has resurfaced with his contract at Chelsea due to expire in the close season. A January move is unlikely, but a free transfer in six months time could suit both parties. Cole has struggled to reassert himself in the Blues’ team after overcoming injury and Tottenham will hope they have additional Champions League games to cater for next season. Adding a further creative spark to Modric and Kranjcar in his squad would give Redknapp the depth and options needed to fight on several fronts at the top level. Cole can play anywhere across the midfield, or even as a withdrawn striker and his versatility could see him fill numerous holes in the side in the many anticipated matches.

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