Redknapp won't change veteran plan
HARRY Redknapp is unquestionably the people's choice to succeed Fabio Capello as England manager. But if the people anticipate that a Redknapp team will represent a decisive step away from the failures of the past, then they might be in for a shock. Instead of new faces, it could be a case of same old, same old - with the emphasis very much on old.
Redknapp said after Saturday's game that he thought the England squad that failed so badly in South Africa in 2010 had had "the best chance since 1966" of winning the World Cup, and it sounded very much as if he fancied giving some of its members another opportunity. His Tottenham field general Scott Parker remains a candidate to replace John Terry as England captain, but so does old hand Steven Gerrard. And while England fans tired long ago of seeing Gerrard mismatched alongside Frank Lampard in midfield, Redknapp will not rule out his 33-year-old nephew - or 37-year-old Paul Scholes, who retired from international football in 2004.
"Let's be honest, you'd love to have Paul Scholes in the Euros this year," Redknapp said. "He'd be in your team, he's that good. You'd love him to play. He plays like a Spaniard, he can play like Xavi, like Iniesta. He doesn't give the ball away. Frank's still a top player - you write Frank off at your peril. Stevie Gerrard's still a world-class player in my opinion. There are still some good English players in midfield."
How that threesome and Parker would line up together and still provide any of the width that has brought success with style to the Tottenham team is anybody's guess, but few would disagree that Redknapp has a gift for building a team, usually around an experienced core, and, who knows, he may even be the one to finally solve that Gerrard-Lampard conundrum. Fitting in the promising young players Capello was bringing through is another challenge, but one that Redknapp has probably not had time to ponder yet. As he reminded reporters on Saturday, any such considerations are premature in any case.
"Listen, I'm starting to talk about international football and my only focus has got to be on Tottenham and that's the only thing I'm looking at - next week in the Cup, then Man United, then we've got Arsenal - we've just got to keep going. If anything ever comes [from the FA] then it's a different game, but at the moment there's nothing happening."
The Tottenham crowd made it clear they want Redknapp to stay, and there was a very visible precedent on the pitch in the form of Luka Modric, whose transfer to Chelsea last summer seemed a foregone conclusion.
The players feel the same about the manager who transformed them from relegation candidates into Champions League contenders.
Their performance on Saturday was a convincing statement that Redknapp has something special at White Hart Lane, although they know that Modric is an exception to the rule.
"People will always be interested in good players," Ledley King, the Tottenham captain, said. "That is football. As a group of players we love him and hope he will stay. We were bottom when he first came in and the results picked up straight away. He showed his people skills and ability to lift players even when their confidence was low. He has gone from strength to strength, brought in some good, experienced players who know what it takes.
"There was a lot of speculation with Luka, and players wanted him to stay but you can't tell anyone what to do. They have to do what feels right for them and football moves on."
Newcastle were the visitors unlucky enough to face a Tottenham team with a point to prove on Saturday, and while their cause was not helped by key absences in midfield, their full-backs both looked out of their depth. Emmanuel Adebayor was unplayable, scoring one goal and having a foot in the other four, including two for Louis Saha on his first start for Spurs.
"I knew we were going to see a reaction from their fans and players and it couldn't have gone any better for them really," Alan Pardew, the Newcastle manager, said.
"My team has responded well to setbacks, so we mustn't get carried away when we have been thumped. Today's problems just came from a team that was too good for us.
"I think we would be quite pleased to see that team in an England shirt. Harry has a very tough decision because this isn't a team you want to walk away from."