Tottenham dropped more points away to relegation candidates yesterday as their inconsistency continued to threaten to undermine their bid for Champions League football next season. However, all is not doom and gloom in north London.
Jermain Defoe scored his first goals from open play in a year but it was still not enough to give Spurs three points against a dogged Wolves side in a thrilling encounter that ended in a 3-3 draw. After falling behind to an early Kevin Doyle strike, Defoe twice struck from distance to briefly hand Spurs the lead. Doyle levelled from the penalty spot before the break, after Alan Hutton was adjudged to have tugged back Nenad Milijas in the penalty area, an offence for which he may be considered fortunate to only receive a booking.
With chances aplenty for both sides in the second half, Roman Pavlyuchenko’s rocket looked to have secured the Londoners victory. But they were unable to hang on, when shortly after Wolves had a goal harshly disallowed, Steven Fletcher converted Matt Jarvis’ cross to once again level a thrilling encounter. Harry Redknapp felt his side deserved more: “It’s a blow. It looked like we got three points and I hoped we won. I thought we deserved to win, we got three fantastic goals, amazing strikes and had chances to kill it off.”
The result fails to lift Spurs into the Champions League places, leaving them fifth behind Chelsea on goal difference, with the Blues having a game in hand.
Despite the setback, the previously struggling Defoe and Pavlyuchenko’s goals will undoubtedly serve as a boost ahead of the second leg of Wednesday’s Champions League second round clash with Milan, and Spurs were handed further cause for optimism when Gareth Bale made his long awaited return from a back problem. Redknapp brushed aside any lingering concerns over the winger’s fitness: ”Gareth looked alright, I don’t think there’s any problem with Gareth, it did him the world of good to do that.”
Bale could well find himself in line for a full return at White Hart Lane in two days, along with Rafael van der Vaart, who should have recovered from a calf strain in time. With Aaron Lennon only starting on the bench yesterday, Spurs should not be short of fresh attacking options. Having secured a 1-0 victory over the Serie A pacesetters away in the San Siro, Spurs appear, along with Chelsea, to be the best placed of the English teams to progress into the quarter-finals.
However while Spurs continue through unchartered territory, Redknapp has claimed that they are unable to compete financially with their rivals from West London and the likes of Manchester City: “If the top players get offered a £150,000 a week at Manchester City they are not going to come to Tottenham for £60,000 a week, are they? Their wage bills are far in excess of ours.”
Despite being linked with big name players such as Sergio Aguero and Andy Carroll in the January transfer window, Redknapp insisted such signings were never on the cards. Having recently suffered the blow of losing out to West Ham in their bid to secure a move the Olympic Stadium, he explained: “We need a stadium that will hold 60,000 people so we can compete and you can’t expect the owners to keep funding everything.”
One player who seems likely to be heading out of the Lane is David Bentley. The midfielder has been on loan at Birmingham City after failing to establish himself in Redknapp’s team, and admitted his transfer from Blackburn has not worked out as he had hoped: “I went there with big ideas, wanting to be part of a team on the up. Not to be a part of that was very difficult to take. I don’t know if I’ve played my last game for Spurs but a lot of bridges have been burnt.”