Rafael van der Vaart has told his Tottenham Hotspur team-mates they must develop a more ruthless streak before they can be regarded as serious contenders for the Premier League title.
Harry Redknapp's side, who host West Bromwich Albion tomorrow, wasted a chance to finish the weekend four points behind leaders Manchester City and second-placed Manchester United - and with a game in hand - by allowing Swansea City to grab a late equaliser at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday. Van der Vaart had given Spurs the lead, but Scott Sinclair's strike six minutes from time meant a frustrating journey home from south Wales.
The Dutch attacking midfielder knows Tottenham must cut out the lapses in concentration that sometimes afflict them. "It was disappointing to lose a goal just before the end of the game," said Van der Vaart.
"The fact we're disappointed is also a good sign. Perhaps a couple of years ago Tottenham would be happy with a draw, but now we know we can do more. It's been a great first half of the season though, and we have a lot to look forward to."
Despite Tottenham's occasional frailties, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes they are playing the best football in the Premier League this campaign. And while third-placed Spurs would be more than happy to finish the season back in the UEFA Champions League qualification places after missing out last term, City's shock defeat at Sunderland yesterday means a surprise title challenge is still possible. A win over West Brom could lift Tottenham to within three points of City and United if the top two slip up again against Liverpool and Newcastle respectively.
But Redknapp's hopes of moving closer to the top would be dented if Scott Parker is unable to feature against the Baggies. The England midfielder suffered a knee injury in the first half of the 1-1 draw at Swansea and was eventually substituted with 19 minutes remaining.
Redknapp said: "It's too early to say [how bad it is]. He took a bang on the knee in the first half and you could see how he was struggling, but he carried on with it.
"He has made a massive difference since he came in. We haven't lost many when he has played. I think only once he has been on the losing team - he has been that important."
Hodgson keen on transfer kitty
In contrast to Tottenham's lofty ambitions, West Brom travel to north London knowing any kind of positive result will be another step towards survival. Roy Hodgson's side are already seven points clear of the relegation zone, but yesterday's 1-0 home defeat by Everton was a major disappointment. And Hodgson wants backing from the board in the January transfer window to ensure his side don't get sucked into the relegation dogfight.
"If we are going to have a good season, we need some help," he said. "I'd like to think we have got to the stage where the type of players that would help us would cost money and demand high wages.
"I'm not certain at the moment that is the way we are looking to go forward. I'm not interested in bringing bodies or extra names into the club unless I am sure they are better than what we have got."