You must be kidding!

27 February 2009 12:32
To Spurs fans the last year must seem stranger than fiction.

Rewind 12 months and their Carling Cup final victory over Chelsea looked like the spark that would ignite Juande Ramos' reign.

Who imagined they would hardly win a league game after that Wembley win, lose Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane - their two most prolific and dangerous threats - and that Harry Redknapp would leave Portsmouth for White Hart Lane?

You couldn't make it up, but it's happened and Spurs are now not only back in the final but have a really good chance of retaining the trophy.

I'm sure at the start of this season Robbie hoped he would be dancing about a pitch with a trophy in his hand - but wearing the red of Liverpool rather than the white of Tottenham.

What a story it would be for him if he rediscovered his scoring form at a place that holds such good memories for him - and recent ones too.

I think it's on the toss of a coin who will join him up front; Harry may opt for Darren Bent's explosive pace or someone he can play off a little bit better, like Roman Pavlyuchenko. Either way, in the absence of Jermain Defoe I don't think one is vastly in front of the other in the pecking order.

Hard workIt's the other end of the pitch Harry will be more worried about; Spurs are still letting in too many goals, partly due to disorganisation within the back four but also their midfield make-up.

Put simply, more hard work is needed. The likes of Aaron Lennon and Luca Modric may not be geared up for defensive work but they must realise they have a responsibility to do that.

Undoubtedly, Spurs' solidity has been helped by the arrival of Wilson Palacios, who can break up attacks early and get around without tiring but there needs to be more cohesion within the team.

There's absolutely no reason why Spurs shouldn't be a tighter unit; they have three very, very good centre-backs to choose between, an international in Gianluca at right-back and left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto has been playing very well.

Neither featured on Thursday as Harry rested a number of first-teamers for the UEFA Cup tie with Shakhtar Donetsk; I'm sure if Spurs lose on Sunday there will be those who point out that the side has only had three days to recover and prepare between games

EnergyThat might be an excuse but I don't think it's a reason for any potential defeat. It's the end of February after all, not the end of May. Tottenham's players should still have a lot of energy in the tank.

I can remember playing in two Cup finals in three days at the end of May 1985 - against Rapid Vienna in Rotterdam on the Wednesday and Manchester United at Wembley on Saturday - and that was the end of me! Emotionally, winning the European Cup Winner's Cup took a hell of a lot out of us but that's not the situation Spurs find themselves in.

Yes, some of the players that may play both games might feel a little leggy in the last 20 minutes at Wembley but Harry can name three substitutes so there is plenty of scope for change.

KidsThere's no doubt that in United Spurs are coming up against a better side; the question is how many youngsters will Sir Alex Ferguson play?

He might say he will field a load of kids but no-one is more determined to win trophies than the Manchester United manager; he won't be handing this one to Harry.

I don't think we'll see four or five kids in this starting line-up; he may throw in two or three but not many more because the Carling Cup is a major trophy in this country.



Darron Gibson may get a chance as may Danny Welbeck, while Johnny Evans might get another run alongside Nemanja Vidic if Rio Ferdinand is rested - but if you were Rio or Edwin van der Sar, you'd want to play wouldn't you?

So expect plenty of changes to the XI that drew against Inter Milan during the week and the return of the likes of Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez, maybe Paul Scholes, Anderson, Nani, and Vidic.

I thought Rooney would start Tuesday's game but United turned in a solid display without him - they were much the better side by quite some way - and now the striker has had an extra four or five days to rest so he'll be ready for Sunday's tussle.

FortuitousWho'll come out on top? I think you get what you deserve in this game; if Tottenham deserve to win the final they will do, if they are not up to it they won't.

Just remember that Harry's run to the FA Cup final with Portsmouth last year was fortuitous - they almost went out two or three times on the way - while good fortune smiled on Spurs at Wembley last year.

They got a dubious penalty and a very fortuitous winning goal but that's what can happen in Cup finals. And should Keane score the winner that would be one hell of a script after the year he's had!

Source: SKY_Sports