The performance against Blackburn was the team’s best since the Swansea game, although the fact Rovers did not manage one attempt at goal summed up their abject performance. Right from the outset, the Lilywhites set the tone, with Luka Modric bursting into the box to set up Aaron Lennon. From then the match was one-way traffic with Rafael van der Vaart, Modric and Sandro controlling the midfield. Sandro in particular had an immense game, winning 11 tackles, two interceptions, had a pass accuracy of 91% and was unlucky to see a powerful shot rebound off the crossbar. Spurs played well – they were allowed to – with width and at a high tempo that suits their game. It was this width that set up the first goal – a cross from Lennon, headed towards goal by Gareth Bale and eventually knocked in by van der Vaart.
In truth Spurs were creating chances and could have gone in three or four goals up at the break. The second half continued in the same vein – Spurs dominated possession, created chances but were failing to close the game out until Kyle Walker took centre stage in the 75th minute. Spurs had won a free-kick about 30 yards out, van der Vaart shaped to take but Walker stepped up and curled a wonderful free-kick past Paul Robinson to effectively wrap up the game.
There were still some negatives though. Bale drifted inside to a packed Blackburn defence when width may have offered a better outlet and perhaps Lennon and Bale’s switching of flanks occurs too often to be effective. Also, the finishing could have been more clinical for the number of chances created.
The result and performance should have set Spurs up for a tricky Bolton game but then the FA made their announcement. West Bromwich Albion had granted permission the FA permission to approach Roy Hodgson over the vacant England position.
There have been arguments since Fabio Capello’s resignation that the rumours linking Redknapp to the role have had a (at least partly) detrimental effect on Tottenham’s season. On the surface, the FA turning their back on Redknapp should allow him to focus solely on Spurs fight for a Champions League place. This may depend on how badly Redknapp wanted a job that he had said would be the pinnacle of any English manager’s career. The disappointment, contemplation about why you have not been offered a role may be just as distracting as pondering about being offered the role in the first place. Will Redknapp have to overcome the disappointment (assuming Hodgson takes the job, if not, what then?) to try and prepare Spurs for the next match?
In trying to be fair, the FA appear to have mishandled each step of the process. Hopefully this will not be another distraction for Tottenham coming at such a crucial point in the season.