Tottenham Hotspur vs Blackburn Rovers, Sunday 29th April, White Hart Lane, 4pm kick off, SSHD1 & SS1
4 games left, 4 wins required. Kenny Palmer steps up to the mike to preview the match.
Sunday’s game against Blackburn is the first of the four matches which will ultimately define Harry Redknapps four year tenure as Tottenham manager.
The wretched performance against QPR and the subsequent fallout has proved to be a watershed moment for theEnglandelect manager.
Ironic chants of “Redknapp forEngland” from the travelling away Tottenham support was confirmation if any were needed that any lingering bond between Redknapp and the fans has been irrevocably severed.
The performance by the players was bordering on abject as it was devoid of conviction, desire and heart giving credence to the stories circulating on the internet that Redknapp has lost the dressing room following a bust up some senior players, with other reports stating players complained to chairman Daniel Levy about Redknapps poor tactics and match preparation.
Even Vedran Corluka, on loan at Bayer Leverkusen waded in stating the club will miss out on Champions League qualification, because of lack of squad rotation by Redknapp.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they finished sixth,” he told BBC Sport
It’s some achievement to lose the fans and players in one fell swoop! Triffic!
Another revealing development this week has been the number of journalists from the national press like Tony Evans of the Times and Matt Law of the Express breaking rank and writing critical pieces on the outgoing Spurs manager.
Steve Kean the Blackburn manager finds himself in the unusual position of facing a manager more reviled by his own fans than he usually is. Blackburn in the middle of a relegation battle come toWhite Hart Lanebuoyed by a victory last week againstNorwichwhich arrested a run of five successive defeats. Although they have still lost five of their last six away matches in the Premier League which should give Spurs encouragement.
Steve Kean is likely to stick with the same starting line-up that beat Norwich 2-0 last week at Ewood Park. They will play a 4-4-1-1 formation with their main danger men being the forward duo of Yakubu and Junior Hoillett. The Nigerian international has had an excellent goal return this season and the Spurs centre back pairing will have to be on their toes to keep him out. Junior Hoillett a transfer target of Spurs in January will look to create openings with his direct dribbling and also poses a real goal threat which his excellent goal atNorwichhighlighted.
In all likelihood Tottenham will go into the game against Blackburnsitting sixth in the league meaning anything less than a win will more or less will end any lingering hopes the Lilywhites have of finishing 4th and the coveted Champions League position.
Spurs go into the game depleted at the back. Younes Kaboul is out for this game and possibly for the season with a knee injury. He is joined on the treatment table by Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who seems to be suffering from burnout after a long and tiring season, in which the left-back played in all four competitions for Spurs. Danny Rose who has impressed when ever called upon this season will step in.
The creaking pair of Gallas & King appear to be the only fit centre backs as it doesn’t appear that the former Blackburn Rovers reserve Ryan Nelsen has recovered from injury and Redknapp evidently has no confidence in Bongani Khumalo (remember him?) derisively dismissing him when talking about Gallas and King:” If one of those got injured and I was bang in trouble and would have had to use Bongani Khumalo, who has been on loan at Reading this season and didn’t get in their side.” Ouch! The great motivator has spoken!
If Spurs want to get anything out of this game they will need to go back to basics with the 4-4-1-1 formation in which Spurs have played their best football. The in vogue 4-2-3-1 formation which a lot of supporters have clamoured for hasn’t got the best of the team. In the last 3 away games against Chelsea,Sunderland and QPR, playing this way Spurs have not only not won a single game they have also not musterd a single goal! Against QPR despite having 2 overplaying fullbacks and Gareth Bale in the side the team was bereft of width.
The other major doubt for Sunday is Emmanuel Adebayor who depending on who you believe is recovering from an injury or was dropped by Redknapp after a training ground bust up last week. If fit he has to start as he is crucial to how the team play.
Freidel-Walker, Gallas, King, Rose- Lennon, Modric, Parker, Bale-Van Der Vaart-Adebayor (4-4-1-1)
Spurs are in a dreadful run of 1 win in 9 playing without confidence and conviction. They will be up against a determinedBlackburnfighting for their premiership status giving their all for Steve Kean. I have long dispensed with looking at Spurs through rose tinted glasses. Successive defeats against promoted Norwich and QPR and the teams collapse in 2012 would suggest to me that the team is done for the season. I expect nothing but a Blackburn victory on Sunday. 2-1 toBlackburn.
A footnote to the QPR game, before kick-off Loftus Road’s giant screen showed Al Pacino’s famous motivational speech from the film Any Given Sunday which seemed to inspire the home team. Tottenham are currently a rudderless ship with no captain at the helm heading towards the precipice. With seemingly no leadership they couldn’t do worse than show Tottenham Hotspur – The club that Bill made on the giant screen to inspire the fans and the team.
Kenny ( @KennyPalmer on Twitter )