Harry Redknapp today said his Tottenham team are capable of mounting a title challenge. His reasoning was simple enough. A year earlier he had insisted his team were equipped to finish in the top four of the Premiership and the players responded to the challenge and achieved just that. This year he believes they can fight for the title and can see his players raising their game to do just that.
Most football fans who have had the pleasure of observing Tottenham in the past twelve months will feel that the likes of Jermaine Defoe, Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko do not have the capabilities to raise their game another level. Last season was them at their peak. Which is precisely why Jermaine Defoe has never played for a side that has won the Premiership and Peter Crouch was considered to be not good enough for Liverpool. There will be obvious improvement in certain areas. For instance Gareth Bale, Tom Huddlestone, Aaron Lennon and Luka Modric should only improve even more. Contrastingly, some players won’t perform at the same level.
Tottenham finished the last Premiership season in splendid form, winning the majority of their games from Easter onwards, including victories against Chelsea and Arsenal at White Hart Lane and a splendid victory at Eastlands against fourth place rivals Manchester City. That said, after winning these important matches the team was still in only fourth place. Individual players like Heurelho Gomes, Ledley King, Wilson Palacios and Luka Modric are worthy of a place in a Premiership winning side but the majority of the others are not quite at the level required. Tottenham are likely to struggle with Premiership matches on the weekend and Champions League matches sandwiched in between. Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are accustomed to such problems but even they often face difficulties in such circumstances. Without the experience all of those teams have such a simple difference might wreak havoc on Tottenham’s season.
Tottenham fans will cite previous UEFA Cup campaigns but fans will know that even they struggled to win consecutive Premiership matches and often witnessed a jet-lagged effect, too many matches in too few days. Swap the quality of teams Tottenham will be facing, the likes of Anorthosis Famagusta with Barcelona, and the potential problems become even more obvious. Harry Redknapp might just be aiming a little too high for Tottenham this season and the players might respond despondently should the start of the campaign not go as hoped.
If Harry Redknapp is truly hopeful of a Premiership challenge he needs Vedran Corluka to play at his very best for an entire campaign at right back, Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate to stay injury free, Younes Kaboul and Sebastien Bassong to improve at a faster pace, Benoit Assou-Ekotto to stay interested, Sandro, the new Brazilian signing, to settle in extraordinarily quickly, Giovani Dos Santos to offer a plan b, Aaron Lennon to add another dimension to his game, Jermaine Jenas to offer something to the squad, David Bentley to find the form he showed at Blackburn, Niko Kranjcar and Luka Modric to offer more goals from midfield and Peter Crouch to create a way of playing with Roman Pavlyuchenko.
Simply put, it is possible for Tottenham to mount a title challenge but they would need so much to happen that we have to consider it unlikely.