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Harry's heroes need to show their swagger
Published : 17 Oct 2011 08:50:00
TEAMtalk guest Nick Hext thinks Tottenham need to rely on their attacking talent if they are to finish in the top four this season. Tottenham will only have themselves to blame if they don't finish in the top four this season. All the tools are pretty much there for Harry Redknapp but Spurs still don't quite convince enough to guarantee that they will get the job done when we reach May. They impressed for the majority of the second half in Sunday afternoon's 2-2 draw at Newcastle with Luka Modric getting back to his best after his summer transfer saga drew a veil of uncertainty around White Hart Lane. Scott Parker also makes the first XI stronger as he adds much-needed steel in the centre of midfield and Brad Friedel has to be considered a safer pair of hands than the sometimes brilliant but sometimes dreadful Heurelho Gomes. But it isn't all coming up roses for Redknapp as he has a few issues to get to grips with. A central-defensive partnership of Younes Kaboul and Sebastien Bassong will have top strikers licking their lips and Kyle Walker - although superb when he marauds forward - still has a few question marks over his defensive ability. The signing of Gary Cahill on transfer deadline day would have allowed Spurs fans to sleep a little easier but the deal didn't go through and that leaves the squad short with the absence of Ledley King, Michael Dawson and William Gallas through injury. What could become known as 'the Rafael van der Vaart question' also needs an answer. Redknapp told The Sun recently: "Yes, it does seem to be a problem. Rafa can't run back and chase the full-back. Against the better teams it is a problem. "Rafa's best position is in the middle, playing just behind the front man. The only problem is that Jermain Defoe plays there too and Jermain is playing very, very well at the moment. "So, I guess I have got a decision to make, haven't I? I suppose it's now between Rafa and Jermain over who plays in the team." Tottenham certainly looked more threatening at St James' Park when Defoe came on and the 29-year-old has to make a big impact this season if he is still to be regarded as one of the top-flight's deadliest finishers. His place in the England squad depends on it with the stock of Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge sure to grow by the time Fabio Capello's men look to fill a Wayne Rooney-sized hole at Euro 2012. Liverpool and Arsenal - providing they can find some sort of consistency and Robin van Persie finally enjoys an injury-free season - still appear the most likely challengers for fourth spot. We all know about the Gunners' frailties and teams will definitely fancy their chances when they come up against Liverpool's defence, although having Pepe Reina behind them does give Reds fans plenty of comfort. Tottenham need to believe that a return to the Champions League is right in their hands - show some of what those in the music world call 'swagger' or indeed 'swag' - as they will regret it if they don't. Buy an extra central defender in January - the new man can be used to take Bassong's spot in the squad with talk of a move to QPR still having plenty of mileage - and show plenty of faith in the team's attacking talent. No side in the land wants to face Modric, Bale, van der Vaart, Adebayor and Defoe when they are firing so make the most of that quality because Tottenham at full pelt will worry any team. If they play to their potential for the rest of the season than a return to the Champions League beckons. If they don't it could be a heck of wait for a seat at European football's top table again as things can quickly change with Spurs' top stars sure to get restless as they eye a fresh crack at the pinnacle of club football. Newcastle have an outside dream of Champions League football but most Geordies should regard a spot in the top eight and a real shot at cup glory as a great season. Alan Pardew has quietly done a sterling job since taking over from Chris Hughton and the club's scouting network is deserving of plenty of praise with Yohan Cabaye already one of the signings of the season. The spirit within the dressing room looks to be top-notch but they shouldn't get carried away with a lack of quality strikers - only Demba Ba is likely to reach a goal tally in double-figures - the biggest issue facing the Magpies. If Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias want to one day be lifted down Bigg Market with the Magpies faithful signing their names in delight - an unlikely thought I grant you - then they have to loosen the purse strings just a little to let Pardew sign at least one (but preferably two) class strikers. You can be sure that Newcastle's coaching staff are aware of a player on the continent who can provide that magic and they deserve the chance to go out and get him when January comes around. The Toon - as Pardew suggests - deserve plaudits for the way the season has started but the best time to build is always when you are in the ascendancy so the club need to make the most of this chance. The last thing they want is a return to the dark days of earlier in Ashley's reign with fans sure to get very restless if they don't feel that enough is being done to keep the side progressing.