Harry Redknapp believes Tottenham Hotspur's challenge for a top four spot triggered Chelsea's record-breaking move for Fernando Torres on transfer deadline day.
Chelsea paid a British record £50million to Liverpool for the Spain striker while also spending £23million to bring in Benfica defender David Luiz. And Redknapp claims Chelsea's spending was driven by concerns that last season's Premier League and FA Cup double winners might miss out on a place in next season's UEFA Champions League due to Tottenham's fine form.
"Maybe they got fearful they weren't going to make the Champions League," said Redknapp, whose side beat Bolton Wanderers 2-1 yesterday to remain just behind Chelsea in fifth place.
"A month ago everyone was saying if Tottenham are going to make it they have to finish above Chelsea and they did have a dip. But they have made two massive signings and I wouldn't write them off. If anyone finishes above Manchester United it will be Chelsea. But United are red-hot favourites."
Tottenham maintained their challenge in dramatic fashion through an injury-time winner from substitute Niko Kranjcar. That kept Spurs hot on Chelsea's heels and Redknapp admitted he was disappointed at his failure to make a big-money signing during the transfer window.
"It would have been nice to bring someone in January," said Redknapp. "I wanted Phil Neville about eight weeks ago, I thought he would have been good for morale around the club. Other than that I didn't really have anyone I definitely wanted.
Searching for a striker
"We have two England strikers [Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe], plus Roman Pavlyuchenko and Rafael van der Vaart and I couldn't come up with anyone. [Giuseppe] Rossi [of Villareal] was £36million and it all got too dear. The chairman would have paid the money if we had the right one. I couldn't say we definitely wanted him."
The Spurs manager believes Manchester City struck the best deal of the month when they signed Edin Dzeko from Wolfsburg for £27million while claiming Liverpool's £35million swoop for Newcastle United's Andy Carroll is a gamble. "Probably the boy who went to Man City was probably the best bargain," he added. "He was cheap if he is as good as everyone says he is.
"But other than that I couldn't put my life on a striker who we could have took. Andy Carroll was a gamble. I think he could be a huge success but he is not going to be fit for a while. We thought the quality Phil Neville has as a character might have been as important as bringing in a striker."