Time to Eclipse the Blue Moon
Harry Redknapp may soon be making the transition from club to international manager. He'll be looking to leave Spurs the parting gift of a first league title in over 50 years...
There's a saying in Ireland; "the poor mouth". Generally, it refers to GAA managers who play down their own player's abilities and chances, while heapingpraise on opponents. Harry Redknapp has been giving it loads in recent weeks.
However it is less praise and more pressure that he is piling on his managerial rival Roberto Mancini. In a column the Spurs manager penned in the Sun, he spoke of his pride in how his club was doing, without the financial backing available to the Italian. The intention is clearly to portray his own club as plucky challengers with nothing to lose, and Manchester City as the champions elect whose world would cave in should they lose on Sunday.
Mind games aside, this game is perhaps the most crucial of the season so far. It shows a distinct shift in the power structure of the Premier League that Manchester City versus Spurs is more likely to decide the destination of the title than the clash of Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates.
Spurs must win this game in order to keep pace with the blue half of Manchester. A loss would leave them with an 8 point deficit to overhaul in the second half of the season. More than this, they must show that they are more than the most exciting team to look in England at this time. They must prove there is steel behind the style.
In order for Redknapp's charges to emerge from the Etihad with the spoils, a few things must happen. Firstly, in the absence of the ineligible Adebayor, Jermaine Defoe must step up to the plate and show that he can lead the line for 90 minutes. Gareth Bale must maintain the form that has seen him the only English based player voted onto the UEFA.com user's team of the year. Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul must maintain their concentration for the full 90 minutes plus added time to quell the attacking threat of Silva, Aguero et al.
No matter how much Redknapp deflects the question, the general concensus is that he will be the England manager once Fabio Capello steps aside after the Euros. If this is to be his last season as a club manager, what better way to cement his status as one of the best around than by pipping the two Manchester clubs to the Premier League title come May? For this to happen, the least Spurs must do is leave the Etihad Sunday afternoon undefeated.
Two years ago, Tottenham secured the Champions League dream at Eastlands with a Peter Crouch header. Last year, an own goal by the same player in the same fixture ended hopes of a second tilt at Europe's elite. Sunday at 1.30, the stakes are much, much higher. If Spurs should lose, the Blue Moon rises, possibly out of sight.