Relegation Review: Will Spurs Get It Right?

Simon WilliamsSenior Analyst IJanuary 12, 2009

The Harry Honeymoon is well and truly over at the Lane. After a breathtaking start to life at Tottenham, Harry could have been forgiven for thinking Spurs would march in to the top half of the table in double quick time.

Instead, after 10 points from his first 12 available, including a win over Liverpool and a dramatic draw with Arsenal, Spurs remain in the bottom three some two months later.

Five games without a win have left Redknapp fuming at the mentality of his players, clearly he feels that many members of his squad are not pulling their weight, but as this seems to have been the case for two years, what exactly can he do about it?

After the £15m lavished on bringing back Jermain Defoe, it is unlikely that 'Arry will be given much more to spend in this transfer window, unless he sells some of those players that he is clearly not happy with.

Spurs were abject at Wigan on Sunday, eventually going down to a late winner in a poor game. Defoe barely had a sniff, and never looked like continuing his remarkable record of 'debut' goals, not that this was his real debut for Spurs of course.

Redknapp, for all his undoubted qualities in galvanising players, is no miracle worker, and you can only get the best out of players who actually want to play for you. Some of the Spurs players appear so bereft of confidence and consistency, that it is difficult to see how they can put together any kind of winning run.

They are still well in contention to remain in the division of course, and sit only seven points behind 8th placed Hull. There remains though the nagging concern that time continues to pass, and the same problems (feeble away form, prone to conceding late goals, lack of midfield balance) continue to trouble the team.

Their next three games are all winnable, and Spurs simply must win two of them to instill any kind of confidence that they can survive the battle. Portsmouth visit the Lane on Sunday, followed Stoke at home on the 27th January, and Bolton away on the 31st January.

While these vital Premier League games are more important for the long term future of the club, there remains the concern that Cup distractions might upset league form. Between the Portsmouth and Stoke games, Spurs play the second leg of their Carling Cup tie at Burnley (fortunate to be defending a three goal advantage), and face a trip to Old Trafford in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

On top of these domestic cups, the UEFA Cup resumes on the 19th February. Could it be that some of Spurs less successful recruits will view good performances in the shop window of European football more important than Premier League points?

Spurs are the only side in the relegation fight that have this number of distractions. Man City still have UEFA Cup action, but they are out of both domestic cups, and have the capacity to sign more players.

Stoke and Bolton have only league games remaining for the rest of the season, while West Brom and Portsmouth might find themselves in the same position if their tricky cup replay's this week at Peterborough United and Bristol City respectively do not go successfully.

With only nine points separating the bottom 13 teams in the league, it is still impossible at this stage to say with any certainty who will be relegated.

West Brom were looking a dead cert, but after a couple of home wins they have dragged themselves back into contention. If the Baggies were to beat Middlesbrough this coming Saturday at the Hawthorns, they could easily find themselves out of the bottom three altogether.

Fulham have been on an impressive unbeaten run that has taken them up to 9th in the table, with two games in hand, but even they only sit six points ahead of the drop zone.

Two months ago it was assumed that Hull would canter to safety with games to spare, but they have won only one league game since the 25th October, out of 12 attempts. Their early form gave them a nice cushion with which to soften the poor run, but Phil Brown will be nervously looking over his shoulder if the slide continues for much longer.

From here on in, every single game for the 13 teams involved is massive. They will all be playing each other several times over in the next three months. Nobody can take anything for granted, however big the club, and the names of the players.

In the current table of results this season against teams in the bottom half of the table, Spurs lie bottom with only nine points taken against their nearest rivals. Headline grabbing results against your Arsenals and your Liverpools are all well and good, but they don't keep you in the Premier League.