Spurs equipped for taxing season
"I shall go home and have a bacon sandwich and a mug of tea," Redknapp told reporters. "Wigan on Saturday is what I'm thinking about really."
It was a deliberately deadpan response on a night of giddy chatter about mixing it with the big boys of European soccer, and by the time Spurs
There's no doubting that the arrival of Inter on Nov. 2 will quicken pulses in north London -- White Hart Lane hasn't welcomed a club of genuinely comparable stature since 1985, when eventual winner Real Madrid defeated UEFA Cup title holder Tottenham thanks to an own goal -- and desire for progression doesn't preclude a lust for European nights to savor.
But Redknapp is wise to train his focus on managing a campaign fought on four fronts. "We can't start thinking about Champions League football and let our league form go," he said. "The top teams every year play Champions League football, Premier League football, and they compete on both fronts. We have to do that."
Tottenham has rarely sustained a challenge on all fronts and the manager is new to its demands, but the performance against Young Boys will boost Redknapp's confidence. Under a sky that dropped rain as if to quench a fire, his players looked as unflustered as you're likely to see them. Spurs blanked Young Boys 4-0 and pushed for more to the last minute, winning 6-3 on aggregate after losing the first leg 3-2 last week in Switzerland.
They now need to maintain that composure, concentration and energy through a congested fixture list. Wigan may hold few fears, but Redknapp's men face less comfortable away encounters with Fulham, Manchester United and Bolton sprinkled among two legs against Internazionale, while Werder Bremen's visit is sandwiched between a trip to neighbor Arsenal and a home match against Liverpool.
To do it, Redknapp needs to maintain a healthy squad. Though he attached the usual caveats about big, last-minute offers before the transfer window closes on Wednesday, Redknapp expressed satisfaction with his cover in every position.
"I've not pressed the chairman to buy anybody," he said, shrugging his shoulders. "We took
Gallas may have received a tepid reception from Spurs fans, but he has experience of winning Premier League campaigns (and on Europe's biggest stages) that makes him an ideal substitute for
This time last year,
Bale is capable of turning in a headline-grabbing performance in almost every game -- "There wouldn't be too many better left-sided players than Gareth," Redknapp said -- but Spurs should also hope to keep
Redknapp has been linked with Brazilian striker
"When it's a one on one for a header against Crouch, you just don't have a chance," Young Boys manager
Crouch's hat trick no doubt got Petkovic's attention, but it was noticeable in any case how often Spurs looked to launch a long ball up to him or to get Bale and
Tottenham has the players to keep the ball on the ground -- Bale and Lennon are comfortable cutting in from the wings and Croatian playmaker
That kind of approach could be much needed: Between now and Christmas, Tottenham plays 22 matches, with its group of internationals facing European Championship qualifiers, too. It's a harrying pace and the Champions League draw could certainly have thrown Spurs an easier run. Maintaining winning form on multiple fronts as fatigue sets in -- reaching the knockout stages would crank up the pressure just as tweaks and strains start to be felt -- will require the best of everybody. But this is arguably the best Tottenham side in 20 years, and there's enough about the squad to believe that it's up to an entertaining, if not ultimately victorious, season of European adventure.