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12th Feb 2016

Harry Redknapp: Why would Pochettino want to be anywhere other than title contenders Tottenham?

Tom Victor

Almost exactly four years ago, Tottenham travelled to the Etihad Stadium with a chance to move within two points of the top of the Premier League table.

This weekend, if North London rivals Arsenal beat Leicester City, Spurs will find themselves in an identical position.

On that afternoon in January 2012, Jermain Defoe came inches away from a winner before Mario Balotelli – who probably ought to have been sent off earlier in the game – killed off the visitors with a stoppage-time penalty.

Harry Redknapp was Tottenham’s manager that day, and he has no doubt that Mauricio Pochettino, the man currently at the helm, has given his former club a great chance of their first title in the Premier League era.

So much so, Redknapp says, that he sees no reason why the Argentine would trade his job for the hotseat at Manchester United or Chelsea.

Tottenham Hotspur v Queens Park Rangers - Premier League

Speaking to JOE ahead of Tottenham’s return to Europa League action, BT Sport pundit Redknapp says his former charges are “absolutely” in title contention:

“They’ve got a good chance of winning the league but it’s whether Pochettino goes for the Europa League too.”

Spurs take on Fiorentina in the last 32 of the competition, having impressed in a tough group including Anderlecht, Monaco and Qarabag, but there is a worry they could spread themselves too thin.

This time four years ago they were already out of Europe after a disappointing group stage exit, allowing them to focus solely on domestic competitions (they would also reach the FA Cup semi-finals, losing 5-1 to Chelsea).

But even if they end this season without a trophy, Redknapp sees no reason why Pochettino would want to leave, especially to one of the two clubs thought to be interested in the former Southampton and Espanyol boss.


“I couldn’t think of anywhere I’d rather be than where he is at the moment,” said Redknapp.

“I think he’s done a fantastic job at Tottenham, but I don’t see any reason why he would want to leave Tottenham and go to Chelsea, and he’d have a big rebuilding job at Man United.

“If I was at Tottenham and I was Pochettino, I certainly wouldn’t be looking at Chelsea. He’s got so many good young players there and it’s exciting times at Tottenham – I’m sure he don’t need my advice but if I gave him any I’d say stay where you are.”

Tottenham Hotspur FC v RSC Anderlecht - UEFA Europa League

The emergence of some exciting young English talent has been a defining feature of Pochettino’s tenure, both at St Mary’s and at White Hart Lane.

Of the last 18 players to make their England debuts, 10 had played under the Argentine.

Four of the 10 have done so at Tottenham, and all four have played their part this season. While Ryan Mason has seen his progress restricted by injury, the remaining trio – Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier – are all expected to start at the Etihad.

Redknapp is a big fan of Dier, likening his progress to that of Rio Ferdinand, whom he nurtured in his West Ham days.

“He’s doing a great job in there for Tottenham and it suits the way they play and their setup, but I think eventually he will be a great centre-half,” said Redknapp, comparing Dier’s holding role to that occupied by Ferdinand when he broke through at Upton Park.

“It’s a great asset to have that you can play at the back and play in there.

“It’s a bit like John Stones, he’s got that much ability and could go and play in midfield if he wanted to, but he won’t. He could step forward because he’s so comfortable on the ball.

Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round

While Dier gets much of the praise, you can really hear the excitement in Redknapp’s voice when he talks about Alli – “just the most fantastic talent”.

Redknapp speaks in really glowing tones about the youngster, who first came on his radar when playing alongside former QPR junior Tom Hitchcock at MK Dons, saying: “He’s got everything I think, he’s got an edge to him, he’s a big lad, he’s the full package.”

“Kevin Hitchcock, my goalkeeping coach at QPR, his boy was at MK Dons so he used to go and watch them play at every opportunity and he just said he’s the best talent I’ve seen in years,” Redknapp adds.

“It would be interesting to see some of the scouts’ reports who went and watched him and for the clubs who didn’t sign him – you’d like to know what they couldn’t see in him, because you look at him and he’s just scoring goals, making goals, he’s done everything.”

Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

With Dier and Alli poised to make Roy Hodgson’s England squad for Euro 2016, things are looking positive. Especially with their club team-mate Kane one of many quality options up front.

Kane will likely be joined by Wayne Rooney, Jamie Vardy and one other, with Redknapp hoping “fantastic” Daniel Sturridge can prove his fitness in time for the comptetition.

If the Spurs trio are coming into the competition off the back of a title win, can Redknapp see England getting beyond the quarter-finals for the first time in 20 years?

“I’ll be disappointed if we don’t go all the way,” he says.

BT Sport is your home of unmissable live football from the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, Barclays Premier League and the Emirates FA Cup. Watch Fiorentina v Spurs in the UEFA Europa League exclusively live on BT Sport Europe Thursday 18 February from 6pm.