EXCLUSIVE: Harry Redknapp: Why Spurs can beat Manchester United
HARRY Redknapp admits that Tottenham will probably have to beat Manchester United on Sunday if they are to stay involved in the title race.
But the Spurs boss believes that his side have their best chance of defeating the champions since his arrival at White Hart Lane in October 2008.
The Lilywhites go into this weekend’s crunch clash at White Hart Lane eight points behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, with a vastly inferior goal difference, and having played an extra league fixture.
And Redknapp concedes that Sunday’s match could be a pivotal moment in the title race, with Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea also awaiting the result with interest.
“It’s a massive game for us. We’re at home and they’re unbeaten, but it’s a game we’ve got to try to win,” said Redknapp. “If we can pick up the three points on Sunday it would be massive for us, it would keep us right in there. You can’t afford to slip up too much in this league at the moment, it’s so tight.
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“If we get three points and they get none then it would narrow it right up again at the top. All of the top five teams would be looking at it and thinking they’ve got a real chance of winning the title, and we’d be one of them.
“I wouldn’t want to say that it would be over for us if we lose, there’s still a long way to go, but if we’re talking about winning it, it’s certainly a game that we need to win.”
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While Spurs have beaten Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and even Inter Milan under Redknapp, the Tottenham boss is yet to mastermind a victory over United – but he believes that that could change on Sunday.
“This is our best chance to beat them since I’ve been here, for sure,” said the manager. “We’re at home and I know Alex will respect us an awful lot, he’ll know it’s a difficult game.
“I thought we played well at Old Trafford earlier this season, in the first half. I’m not saying we would have got anything out of the game but in the end a farcical goal [from Nani] made it 2-0. There were still seven or eight minutes to go so you never know what might have happened.
“But I certainly think we’ve closed the gap on all of the top four now, we’ve proved that. On our day we can give anybody a game.”
While Spurs are arguably stronger than they have been for many years, the same cannot be said of United, and Redknapp believes that the visitors will be vulnerable to their first league defeat of the campaign this weekend.
“If you look at United they’re not as strong as they were a couple of years ago, they can’t be,” he said. “They’ve lost a player, [Cristiano] Ronaldo, who is just the most amazing player in the world. Along with Messi, he’s the best, it’s out of those two.
“He’s got something like 65 goals in 62 games for Real Madrid. It’s beyond belief. So when you take him out of your team you can’t be as good. He got 40-odd goals for them one season.”
However, Redknapp is not underestimating Ferguson’s side, and he believes that their unbeaten league record this season is a testament to their quality and resilience.
“[Dimitar] Berbatov’s in great form, he’s a fantastic player, and I’m sure [Wayne] Rooney will be back,” he said. “When they’ve got their full team out, with the likes of [Nemanja] Vidic and [Rio] Ferdinand, they’re still strong.
“I say it all the time, you need your best players and they’ve had little spells where Rio’s been out or they’ve had one or two missing – there was no Rooney for a long spell. But they’ve come through that unbeaten and now they’ve got their best players back they’re going to be even more difficult.
“It’s a big test for us but we’ve had some big tests already. We’ve been to Arsenal and won, and drawn with Chelsea at home, so it’s another big one, but they don’t come much tougher than this.”