Will Tidey - All hail Harry Redknapp, the next manager of England
Published: 10 Mar 2011 - 06:31:59
It was a task too far for the man they call le professeur, but the wheeler-dealer footballing equivalent of Del Boy has his team in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. The 1960s are making a comeback at White Hart Lane.
'This is an impossible dream,' said Redknapp, after his team knocked out seven-times European champions AC Milan with a full-blooded effort of stubborn resistance. But to the endearing credit of their manager, it no longer looks that way.
Redknapp's team began to believe in the San Siro in October, when Gareth Bale's hat-trick against Inter Milan transformed an embarrassment into an epiphany.
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Bale became the hottest property in European football, and a couple of weeks later Spurs made good on that promise with a convincing 3-1 victory against the reigning champions at White Hart Lane.
When they returned to the scene of the Welshman's heroics in the knockout stages, he wasn't with them. But they barely missed him. Redknapp's team outplayed, out-fought and out-thought AC Milan - and well deserved their 1-0 victory.
It was a triumph of organisation and application against the Italian league leaders. Tottenham pressed Milan furiously, and in their spine of Michael Dawson, William Gallas in defence, and Wilson Palacios and Sandro in midfield, possessed four players in dominant mood.
Palacios was replaced by the more lightweight Luka Modric last night, but it took nothing away from Tottenham's fierce resolve. Milan were slicker in possession, but they could find no way past the excellent Heurelo Gomes, nor the pair of Dawson and Gallas in front of him.
This is Tottenham's first season in the Champions League, but you wouldn't know it. And heading into the quarter-finals they - like everybody else - will fear only Barcelona.
And even if they're hammered by Schalke, it's already a triumph for Redknapp, who becomes the first Englishman to take this side this far in the competition. His shrewd tactics and motivational powers have been the difference for Tottenham - and once again made a mockery of those who continue to doubt him
While the FA clearly have their reservations, it's becoming harder and harder to see past him as the next manager of his country.
- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Will Tidey
- Will Tidey writes on sport for CNN, Eurosport-Yahoo! and Bleacher Report, amongst others. His first book, 'Life with Sir Alex', an account of Sir Alex Ferguson's 25-year reign at Manchester United, is set for release in October this year. Pre-order it now at http://tinyurl.com/6xzl62b. And follow Will on Twitter here - www.twitter.com/willtidey
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