May 19 2013 Latest news:
By Ben Pearce, Tottenham correspondent
Thursday, January 10, 2013
The former Spurs coach Clive Allen believes the speculation surrounding Harry Redknapp’s future was the key factor in Tottenham’s failure to secure Champions League qualification last season.
The Lilywhites held a 10-point lead over Arsenal in February 2012 and looked set for a third-place finish, which would have represented their best ever Premier League campaign.
However, Fabio Capello quit his post with England that month, leaving Redknapp as the favourite for the national job – and Tottenham’s form dipped sharply as they collected just six points from a possible 27.
Spurs’ demise included a 1-0 defeat at QPR on April 21, which left the Lilywhites in fifth place – six points behind the Gunners – and they ultimately missed out on a place in the Champions League.
And, while Redknapp always insisted that the England speculation was not affecting his players, Allen has a different view.
“There was a lot going on which you obviously don’t want to affect the team, but I think at the end of the day when we look back on it that’s probably what happened,” said Allen.
“It was wall-to-wall coverage at that time and you can’t help noticing and wondering what’s going to happen. Perhaps the players did get distracted, and it cost us.
“We had some big games, notably the one at QPR, where we slipped up. It was a big blow because of the way we’d gone about the first half of the season. I think everyone enjoyed the football that we played, but we couldn’t carry that right through.”
Redknapp was sacked in June and Allen also departed during the managerial shake-up. But, seven months on, Tottenham are sitting in third place again and Allen, who scored 84 goals in 124 games for Spurs during his playing days, is watching with interest.
“Obviously it was a surprise, the changes that took place in the summer,” he said. “But AVB [Andre Villas-Boas] was left with a fantastic squad, he has added one or two players to that through the summer and I guess there will be some additions in this transfer window. It always takes a little while to get going under new management but going into the halfway period they’re in really good shape.
“I think their Champions League ambitions are very high. The top two will be [Manchester] City and United with Chelsea probably third, and then there’s fourth place.
“I’ve no doubt Arsenal will be there and Everton are going to be there this season. There’s a battle on but they [Spurs] are capable of doing it, as well as competing strongly for the cup.
“I watched them beat Coventry at the weekend and, looking at the way the FA Cup’s shaping up in the fourth round, I can see Tottenham going a long way and possibly winning it.
“I think what the manager has is such good depth in the squad now that he’s had the opportunity to change the team around in the Europa League games and cup games as well and there’s a lot of competition for places.
“Is the squad stronger than it was last season? When you take out someone of the quality of Luka Modric and Ledley at centre-half, it’s always going to be difficult to replace.
“It will be a test of time over the course of the season – obviously there are big games to come and you just hope that the players who have come in are up for that.”
Allen also played for QPR with distinction, hitting 83 goals in 147 games in two spells with the Rs, and he will be an interested observer as Tottenham take on Redknapp’s outfit at Loftus Road on Saturday.
“There were a lot of players brought in, it hasn’t really gelled and the results have been pretty disappointing and I am surprised to see them where they are,” said Allen.
“It was my first club, I’ve got a soft spot for them and I’d like to see them get out of trouble. If there’s anyone who’s going to get them out of it, it will be Harry.
“The players respond to him and he gets the best out of them. When teams are in that sort of situation the players are obviously not performing, so I think he will get them to perform and with the ability they have I’m sure they’ll get themselves out of trouble.
“I think it will be a very tight game this weekend. Obviously QPR are desperate for any sort of result and Tottenham are full of confidence at the moment.
“Both teams are potential winners for different reasons, but I think it will be a draw – although I don’t think that will suit either team.
“Tottenham will want to keep their run going and QPR need three points at all costs. I’m sure Harry would say he’d be happy with a point, but he’ll be looking for three.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs