Spurs star admits his shock at Tottenham’s regime change
Benoit Assou-Ekotto admits he was shocked by Harry Redknapp’s dismissal following Tottenham’s top-four finish last season.
But the Spurs defender is looking forward to the future under Andre Villas-Boas, and believes that the Lilywhites are fully capable of qualifying for next season’s Champions League – despite the disappointment of their opening two games.
Tottenham finished fourth for the second time under Redknapp last season and, although they missed out on a place at Europe’s top table due to Chelsea’s victory over Bayern Munich, Assou-Ekotto was still stunned by the regime change that followed at White Hart Lane.
“I was very surprised because I don’t think there are a lot of managers who finish fourth and they are sacked,” he said. “Do I like the new manager? I’m playing, so yes, he is good for the moment. It is a different way to work than under Harry. We do different things – why not?”
Assou-Ekotto admits that Chelsea’s Champions League triumph over Bayern Munich was hard to watch, as Didier Drogba scored the winning penalty in the shoot-out and broke Spurs’ hearts.
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However, the Cameroon defender says Tottenham have only themselves to blame for leaving themselves at the Blues’ mercy after failing to hold onto third place and being overtaken by Arsenal.
“I was about to make a prayer that Drogba would miss his penalty, but I was happy for him,” said Assou-Ekotto.
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“In the season we were 13 points in front of Arsenal and we can’t think that we missed the Champions League because of Chelsea.
“I think we made a few mistakes in the league last season, because it is obviously not normal to finish behind Arsenal when we were 13 points ahead of them.
“Can we finish in the top four again? That’s the target every year, so yes, we have to do that now.
“We finished fourth last season and we haven’t changed much from last season, and maybe we will have one or two new players.
“We are a good team so I will not think that we can’t finish fourth. We have new players with Sigurdsson, Vertonghen and Adebayor, and we know Adebayor - he brings confidence to this team, so it’s all good.”
Assou-Ekotto initially seemed to have scored the winner against West Brom at White Hart Lane on Saturday, only to see his strike cancelled out by an injury-time equaliser from James Morrison.
That left Spurs with one point from their opening two games, following their defeat at Newcastle on the first day of the campaign – but the left-back remains unconcerned.
“The game was not easy, but when we see the way of the game we could have won it,” he said. “In the Premier League it is never finished until the last second, and I think we have to be more focused until the end in the next game, and if we do that it will all be okay for us.
“We don’t have to be worried. Look at how we started last season, and we ended up finishing fourth. I am not worrying at the moment.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs