Palacios: Spurs shouldn't just aim for fourth
AS THE race for Champions League qualification gathers pace in the second half of the season, one assumption continues to be made about Tottenham's goal – to finish fourth. It is certainly a fair assessment of the extent of Spurs' ambition...
By Ben Pearce
AS THE race for Champions League qualification gathers pace in the second half of the season, one assumption continues to be made about Tottenham's goal - to finish fourth.
It is certainly a fair assessment of the extent of Spurs' ambition, and it has been reinforced by the manager himself.
"I think Chelsea and Man United are certainties, and then Arsenal are looking strong so you fancy them," said Harry Redknapp, "and then it's a case of Liverpool, Man City, ourselves and Villa all scrapping away to try to get that fourth spot."
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However, Wilson Palacios disagrees, arguing that the Lilywhites should aim higher. That is partly because he, like Redknapp, expects Liverpool to take up their usual berth in the Champions League at the end of the season.
"The manager has said that Liverpool are the favourites for fourth, and I think you've got to say he's right, given their pedigree and their recent European history. But in the dressing-room we're determined to get higher than we are now. We know where we are now and we'll try to get higher," he said.
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"I think the team has been going very well, certainly this season, but we need to take it to that next level, to improve that bit more.
"We maybe dropped one or two points where we could have picked up three, but everybody is determined that this will be a successful year.
"We were looking forward to the game against Liverpool all week so that was very disappointing. I expected it to be cold when I came over here and after two years I am used to it!
"I think I've come on since my time with Wigan, I definitely think I've been making reasonable progress," he went on. "I think I have a very good understanding with Tom [Huddlestone] since I came to Tottenham, not only with Tom but with Jermaine [Jenas] as well when he plays. We now want to push on and get an even better understanding."
Palacios will undoubtedly have painful memories of 2009, when his brother Edwin was murdered after being kidknapped back in October 2007 - shortly after Wilson had arrived at Birmingham City in the lucrative Premier League.
The Palacios family paid a ransom fee, but never saw 16-year-old Edwin again. His body was discovered in May, hours before Wilson was due to line up for Spurs against Everton at Goodison Park.
The midfielder admits he considered retiring from football last summer, conceding that his high-profile status back in Honduras had put his family at greater risk.
"It's been an extremely tough year and all you can do is keep focused and keep moving forward," he said. "You have to remember that you are playing for a certain club called Tottenham Hotspur.
"It's true I did come close to retiring, but I carried on. Firstly it's always been my dream to be a footballer, but mainly it was my family and friends, taking their advice saying 'keep going, keep going'. Football is what I do, I love football.
"From a kid I've always been quite strong, physically and mentally. I have always been tough and single-minded and that has helped me through.
"This is my job, what you are off the pitch is totally different. You have your own character on the field - off the field I'm just an ordinary guy and I get on with my life. The two things aren't anything to do with each other."
The 25-year-old is certainly glad that he changed his mind because, even if he misses out on Champions League involvement, he is sure to be involved in the World Cup in June.
Honduras have been drawn in Group H and will face Chile, Switzerland and Spain but, while Palacios admits he has half an eye on South Africa, he is reassuring Spurs fans that he won't be pulling out of any tackles in the next four months.
"It's 27 years since we were last at the World Cup, at Spain 1982, and we know we're in a really really tough group, but it's a chance for us to go and do well and we're looking forward to it.
"For the country and the people it's amazing, and for my family as well it's a really proud moment, and obviously for the lads in the team.
"There is no such thing as fear in terms of injury. What you have to do is give 100 per cent and more to make sure the manager can count on you and consider you for selection.
"It is a case of just getting on with it. Sure there is a motivation to have that at the end of the season, but the main thing is to play at your absolute maximum every week.