Joe Cole could be the key to Spurs' Champions League bid, says Harry

HARRY Redknapp believes that Joe Cole could be the key to Tottenham success in the Champions League as he considers new tactics to combat Europe s heavyweights. The Spurs boss admits he has approached the England international...

By Ben Pearce

HARRY Redknapp believes that Joe Cole could be the key to Tottenham success in the Champions League as he considers new tactics to combat Europe's heavyweights.

The Spurs boss admits he has approached the England international, a free agent this summer after being released by Chelsea, about a move to White Hart Lane.

The Lilywhites face competition from Arsenal and now Liverpool, as new Reds boss Roy Hodgson tries to boost his 'home-grown' contingent with a limited budget, and Redknapp admits he is "not close" to signing the 28-year-old.

But, having observed some of the world's top teams at the World Cup this summer, the Tottenham manager feels that Cole could offer him a wealth of tactical options.

"I think you'd either play him in behind, like the boy [Mesut Ozil] plays for Germany - he could play that position off a striker and be free - or I even think he could play in the middle of the park in whatever system.

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"If you play with two up front you could play with a diamond. He could play in behind. I think Joe's strong enough, he's a lot stronger than people realise. He can run all day, he plays with great enthusiasm and skill, I think he's got everything.

"I think there's a good chance [that we can sign him]. A few weeks ago I probably didn't think there was a lot of chance. I really felt that Joe maybe had decided to go somewhere else. To be honest I thought he had maybe done a deal with another club. "But I don't think he has now and if it's possible to get him I would like him. I'm not going to tell a lie, yes I have spoken to Joe. He's got lots of options, I think quite a lot of clubs want him but I had a great relationship with him as a kid [at West Ham]."

Redknapp's desire to sign Cole has confused a number of Spurs fans, who feel that the club already has a wealth of similar players, and supporters are questioning how the midfielder would fit into the 4-4-2 system that served the Lilywhites so well last season.

However, Redknapp is concerned that his favourite Premier League formation will leave his side vulnerable when they take on the world's top players in the Champions League.

The manager's fears were confirmed by England's demise in South Africa, and he admits that he is likely to drill his players in a more compact system during pre-season.

"I think that rigid 4-4-2 formation is the problem when you go in to play teams who can keep the ball," says Redknapp.

"When we (England) play 4-4-2 against better teams, they have the extra man in midfield. If they're comfortable on the ball you get outplayed and you get outnumbered. I felt we were too open in the way we wanted to play.

"There was a massive area in the middle of the park where we didn't get control of the ball. Look at the other sides. Take Germany - they played with Ozil in the hole behind the striker, two midfield players, and they popped it around. We couldn't get near them. Algeria outplayed us as well.

"I really felt we were na�ve in the way we played, and I think the players felt the same way. I spoke to a few of the lads who were in the squad and they weren't really happy with the system. They always had that feeling that they were going to get outplayed and out-numbered in the middle of the park.

"Chelsea and Arsenal didn't go into Europe playing that way. Liverpool don't go away from home in Europe and play this way. We were playing a very open game that really wasn't suited to getting the results that we needed.

"I think you can get away with 4-4-2 in the Premier League. Most teams are playing open, but in the World Cup, in European games, and certainly away from home in Europe... I think we're going to have to look at it [at Tottenham].

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