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25 February 2024

Spurs focussed on Champions League spot

A young Spurs fan holds up a sign for manager Harry Redknapp during the Barclays Premier League match against Newcastle United at White Hart Lane on Saturday in London, England. (GETTY)


Harry Redknapp insists he will not allow the speculation linking him with the England job to distract him from his task of securing Champions League qualification for Tottenham Hotspur.

Redknapp has emerged as the clear favourite to succeed Fabio Capello after the Italian quit the post in protest at the Football Association's decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy.

Capello's departure came on the same day as Redknapp's two-week trial on charges of tax evasion ended with the manager acquitted.

The two events combined to provide the Spurs manager with a highly-charged 72 hours before his Tottenham side provided a welcome distraction by defeating Newcastle 5-0 at White Hart Lane.

And while Redknapp has admitted he is flattered to be touted as Capello's replacement, he emphasised his ties with Tottenham - and in particular chairman Daniel Levy - cannot be overlooked.

He said: "Nothing's happened with the England job. No one has spoken to me or Daniel about it. It wouldn't be fair to anyone here to think about it. Daniel gave me the job, he brought me to the club when there was a public court case hanging over me.

"He looked at the case and had great faith there shouldn't be a case. So I owe him and we've been great for each other. At the moment I can't take my focus off Tottenham.

"It was the most difficult week I've ever had for sure. I wouldn't want anyone to go through that. What it's done to my family was worse.

"But it's behind us now and the week's turned out good. Things turned out right and the lads played well today.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Louis Saha (twice) and Niko Kranjcar scored to put Spurs into a four-goal lead before half time before Emmanuel Adebayor made it five midway through the second half.

The result means Spurs lie third, 10 points ahead of fourth placed Arsenal and Redknapp is targeting a place in to the Champions League for second time in three seasons.

He said: "I just keep looking at the gap between us and fourth. We really want Champions League football again.

"If we can close on the front two, that will be fantastic but I really want us to get a Champions League place.

And he added: "There was some great finishing. I took the chance of playing Saha today. We took him on a short-term contract. Some people questioned it but I've always thought he is a top player and if you can keep him fit, you have a real player on your hands."

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew admitted his side had been outplayed but placed the defeat in the context of an impressive season that sees them still in contention to finish fourth.

He said: "We are a decent team and don't get into trouble like we did today as a rule.

"What we showed today isn't a true reflection of us this season. But Tottenham were irresistible today. Some of the things they were doing, they were doing for fun, Adebayor and Saha were a real handful for us today.

"It was unusual circumstances today and it was their day today but we'll have our day.

"They're definitely in the mix to be the best team we've played."