Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Worst night possible for Redknapp

One injured, one ill

Lose a key player through illness as the teams are walking on to the pitch. Check. Concede an early goal. Check. Have a player sent off after just fifteen minutes. Check. Have your best player hobbling around because he was clearly not fit. Check. Concede three second half goals and lose the tie in the first leg. Check. Concede two goals to a player who used to play for your most serious rivals. Check. Have the ill player contradict you by putting on twitter that you had been ill since Sunday. Check.

Worse

Yep, all in all, it couldn’t have been much worse for Harry Redknapp on Tuesday. His Tottenham side went into the game as underdogs but hopes were high after wins over both the Milan giants earlier in the competition. It simply wasn’t to be against Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid and it turned out to be as one sided as the Barcelona against Arsenal game in the last round. There is no doubt that Spain has shown total dominance over North London over the last few weeks.

Taking each of the issues in turn it becomes clear just how badly things went.

Pace

Aaron Lennon’s pace on the right hand side to compliment Gareth Bale’s on the left is Tottenham’s most potent threat. To lose him at the last minute was a serious blow. The incoming Jermaine Jenas is a totally different player and has only half the pace. The whole team shape was changed and Redknapp and the players had no time to work on it.

Conceding the early goal was a disaster but the manner of conceding it was even more damaging. Real Madrid play great football and can ope you up at will. With that in mind, it is absolutely criminal to give away a goal from a bog standard set piece. The scorer, Adebayor, was always going to be a big threat in the air. He was being marked by Jenas. Surely Aaron Lennon wasn’t going to be marking him, so why did his replacement take on the job. I would assume that Dawson, Gallas or Crouch were meant to pick him up and only they could explain why they didn’t.

Discipline

At 1-0 down it was crucial that Tottenham kept their shape and discipline. Peter Crouch got booked for a really silly lunge in on Ramos. It was beyond belief that he repeated a very similar challenge on Marcelo just a short while later. The referee had no choice but to show a second yellow. Crouch is a very experienced player and he let himself and his team-mates down very badly with two moments of unbeleivable stupidity.

Of course I understand why Gareth Bale played. He has been outstanding this season, particularly in Europe. He had a couple of good moments in the first half but he was clearly short of full fitness. He remained on the pitch in the second half despite offering nothing and hobbling around. I hope he hasn’t further damaged himself.

Deeply

With ten men Tottenham were always going to be up against it but I can’t help but feel they played a large part in conceding three times in the second half. They defended incredibly deeply. In fact, they basically defended their own penalty area. They offered nothing themselves and didn’t even try to keep the ball. They invited pressure and could not possibly hope to keep out a side like Real. By losing 4-0, they have turned what should have been a fantastic night at White Hart Lane next week into nothing more than a pride restoration exercise.

To let former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor score twice was simply adding insult to injury.

The final blow was Aaron Lennon saying on twitter that he refused to be made a scapegoat and that the club had known he was ill since Sunday. Where does that leave Redknapp’s comments that Lennon became ill just before the game? That is very embarrassing.

Shame

It was all a great shame, unless you support Real Madrid. Tottenham have had a great run in Europe and Harry Redknapp has greatly enhanced an already fine reputation. To have such a bad night was a little cruel. They have no chance of overturning the four goal defecit but I hope they can put in a great performance next week that at least does restore some pride.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Graham Fisher


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