Tottenham are currently seven points behind Manchester City in the race for Champions’ League qualification with just four games remaining, and a look at each club’s fixtures indicates a forgone conclusion. The significance of the May 10th meeting between the two at the City of Manchester Stadium is reducing week by week as Spurs continually fall victim to unfortunate decisions, both from officials and their goalkeeper, as City continue to grind out points effectively.
The loss of Champions’ League revenue is likely to damage Tottenham’s chances of maintaining the pace of their progression, from relegation candidates to Milan destroyers in just two short years. City would not have endured a pause of the same extent in their development had Roberto Mancini’s men failed to sustain a top 4 position, but the Citizens now look set to enhance their precocious and expensive squad this summer to ensure a smooth transition in to the highest echelon of European football.
But what does this all mean for Spurs? It was only last January when we witnessed a bid of around £35 million for Sergio Aguero, and less than two months have passed since the Lilywhites triumphed over AC Milan, without conceding a goal in 180 minutes of football, to set up a European Cup quarter-final with Real Madrid. Such experiences will recur a minimum of two years from now and Harry Redknapp must quickly discover a way to direct Spurs back to the top table as soon as possible.
For now, his best option appears to be investing in youth and experience, rather than replicate the signing of Rafael van der Vaart last summer, because established quality could be out of reach. This week, Redknapp has been rumoured to be tracking Dutch youngsters Tristan Berghuis and Issa Kallon, who are both currently training at the Vitesse Arnhem/AGOVV academy, but together have previously spent time on trial at Chelsea. After a short spell in West London, they spent seven days at Spurs Lodge last week, and Harry Redknapp is now deciding whether to confirm his interest in the 15-year-olds by making an offer, something Berghuis’ father is convinced will happen. “They [Tottenham] are very serious,” said Frank Berghuis, a former Holland international, “for Tristan, it was an unforgettable experience. You could not deny something like that to a young player — Tottenham is more than just a club.”
Signing the pair could prove to be a coup considering Chelsea offer more immediate opportunities for Champions’ League involvement, but Redknapp is renowned for his ability to identify and develop raw talent, as evidenced by the blossoming of Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and Rio Ferdinand under his tutelage at West Ham. All three have become fully-fledged England internationals and Premier League winners since, and even though Redknapp hasn’t produced the same impact at Spurs’ academy yet, he can legitimately take a considerable amount of credit for encouraging Gareth Bale’s recent maturity and inspiring 22 year-old Sandro to produce top-class performances on any stage in only his first season outside of Brazil.
It’s not that Redknapp is opting for a simple alternative but just that he will be restricted more so when the transfer window reopens. A number of previously unfamiliar stars have made immediate impacts this campaign, amongst them Javier Hernandez, Seamus Coleman and Jack Wilshere. Although Hernandez was signed for roughly £6million, his contribution this year in scoring 19 goals has seen his value soar. Wilshere was developed through Arsenal’s academy and promoted to the senior squad at the age of 17 and Coleman was signed by David Moyes for only £60,000 at the age of 20. All three have performed to a standard that belies their humble beginnings, and all in the space of nine short months, which should give Spurs’ fans confidence that Redknapp, although aggressively reluctant to admit it, can still wheel and deal without the attraction of Champions’ League football.