Tottenham Hotspur’s grip on a top-four place in the Premier League comes under renewed threat at Chelsea on Saturday but despite a poor run of results manager Harry Redknapp said there was no sense of panic at the club.
Three defeats and a draw from their last four league matches have pushed them below Arsenal into fourth and Chelsea are only five points behind ahead of the clash at Stamford Bridge - a fixture Spurs have not won since 1990.
The poor run of results has coincided with intense speculation that Redknapp will be named England manager in the wake of Fabio Capello’s resignation, but he rubbished suggestions that his situation or the pressure of sealing Champions League qualification was getting to the squad.
“That’s the biggest load of nonsense I’ve ever heard,” Redknapp told reporters at Tottenham’s training ground when asked if the frittering away of a 10-point lead over both London rivals was related to his link to England.
“(The players) don’t care whether I’m the manager next year, they won’t lose any sleep over that. Footballers come in and train and play the next game. If someone else comes in it’s the king is dead long live the king... that’s football.
“They don’t worry if Harry’s going to England or somewhere else. I don’t lose any sleep over it either, whether I’m here, somewhere else or nowhere.”
Redknapp also said Tottenham’s dreadful record at Stamford Bridge would not concern the players.
“The players don’t sit in there thinking we have to make the Champions League, they don’t think that way, they are not panicking, they just want to play well in every game,” he said.
“They’re not walking around down because we lost a couple o games. They will just get on with it.
“There are nine games to go and lots of points to play for and lots of twists and turns between now and the end of the season.”
Former England striker Gary Lineker scored the winner when Spurs last won a league match at Chelsea and Terry Venables was the manager. Since then it has been a tale of woe.
Tottenham will again be without Aaron Lennon on Saturday, the winger not ready to risk a hamstring despite returning to training, while striker Emmanuel Adebayor is also struggling to be fit for the 1245 kickoff.
Redknapp was not surprised that Chelsea had recovered their form in recent weeks since the sacking of manager Andre Villas-Boas, although he played down the significance of the managerial change.
“The results have changed but they’ve always been a top team,” he said. “They played well at Spurs this season and they have a team of players with real leaders and winners at the club like (John) Terry, (Frank) Lampard and (Didier) Drogba.
“For them to find themselves struggling to be in the top four doesn’t happen... normally they are nailed on for top two. But it’s all changed with Man City coming in and us creeping in there and now they are scrapping to get a top four place.”