Tottenham Hotspur’s win at Manchester City was enough to secure the London club 4th place in the 2009/10 Premier League and in doing so, they have broken the stranglehold of the ‘Big Four’ that football fans have become so accustomed to in recent years. Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool have occupied the top four positions in varying combinations for the last four seasons and with it, all have enjoyed the financial rewards that qualification to the Champions League brings, creating an almost monopoly like affect in terms of spending power which has been strengthening the position of the said quartet at the top of the table.
Very few would have predicted that Spurs were to be the team to break into the top four at the start of the season, with big spending Manchester City the most fancied candidate amongst bookmakers and pundits after spending in excess of £100 million on players during the summer. Whilst Redknapp and Spurs have also spent on players, it has been nowhere near the colossus expenditure seen at the City of Manchester Stadium and unlike many of the elite teams in the Premier League, it is refreshing that Redknapp is happy to put his faith in home grown talent. A total of seven English players played in Spurs 1-0 victory over Man City on Wednesday night, a result which clinched fourth place with one game remaining.
With the domestic season now over, Harry Redknapp can begin plotting how Spurs will represent England on the international stage next season but in the interim, it will be the Spurs English contingent of Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Ledley king, Aaron Lennon, Michael Dawson, Tom Huddlestone and David Bentley, who will keen to represent England themselves at the World Cup in South Africa.
It can be argued that all seven of Spurs eligible Englishmen stand a chance of making Fabio Capello’s England 2010 World Cup squad but it would be a shock to see Bentley and Huddlestone to make the final 23 despite impressive performances at times during the season. Huddlestone more so than Bentley has played a key role for Spurs in midfield this season, playing 32 league games and could be named in Capello’s preliminary 30 man squad despite winning just one cap for his country.
Another player with limited international experience but stands a better chance of boarding the plane to Johannesburg is Michael Dawson, who has been a rock at centre-half for Spurs this season and is being widely tipped to make the squad given Rio Ferdinand’s struggle with injury. Dawson’s partner at the heart of the Tottenham defence is fellow Englishman, Ledley King, an exceptional defender whose career has been blighted by injury. Despite being unable to play in every game due to his recurring knee troubles, King has played in over half of Spurs league matches this season and whilst he wouldn’t be able to play in all England’s World Cup matches if he went to South Africa, he would provide excellent and consistent back up and it would be a surprise not to see Capello take the gamble on King.
Aaron Lennon is the other Spurs player not certain of a place in the England squad. The winger would normally be guaranteed a place in the squad given his skill and pace on the right hand side of midfield but injury has left a doubt over his fitness and whilst it is likely that he’ll be named in the preliminary squad, he may have to prove his fitness in order to stand a chance of featuring for England at the finals come June.
Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch are the remaining two Spurs players who have both been a regular feature in England squads under Fabio Capello and both can be expected to play important roles in the England attack in South Africa. Defoe is yet again one of the leading goalscorers in the Premier League this season with 18 goals, and with 11 goals in 39 appearances for England he has also proved that he’s capable of scoring goals on the international stage. However, with Wayne Rooney the number one striker, Defoe may have to look to grab the headlines by making an impact coming off the bench.
Fellow striker, Peter Crouch, is a certainty for the squad and may have a better chance of starting for England given his exceptional record of 18 goals in 17 starts under Fabio Capello and could well be the player to partner Rooney.
Whilst there are no certainties around which of the Spurs players will feature in Fabio Capello’s World Cup plans, it is safe to say that if the England odds to win the World Cup are to be justified then Tottenham Hotspur players are likely to play a key role at some stage along the way. No England squad for a major tournament has ever featured more than five players from one team so if Spurs did have six representatives in South Africa, it would be a fitting end to what Harry Redknapp has achieved at the North London club.