New Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp insisted the Londoners had every chance of surviving in the Premier League after overseeing a 2-0 win against Bolton in his first game in charge. Redknapp, a surprising hire from top-flight rivals Portsmouth after Spurs sacked manager Juande Ramos on Saturday, inspired his new charges to their first win in nine league games this season.
Goals from Roman Pavlyuchenko and Darren Bent secured a desperately needed victory at White Hart Lane on Sunday, although the result still left Spurs propping up the rest of the Premier League. "They showed today how they can play," Redknapp told Sky Sports. "I remember coming back to Portsmouth when they were bottom of the league and thinking 'My God, what I am going to do with this lot' after the first game.
"But here today, some of the football was superb and the quality of the play was top-class. It was a must-win game. Clive Allen picked the team but I got involved before the game and at half-time. Someone said, 'Do you want to sit in the stand?' but I said 'No, I'll have a go.' We haven't got time for me to be sitting back and not getting involved. I learned an awful lot about the players - they all did a job.
"(Luka) Modric - what a footballer...David Bentley's cross for the goal was (David) Beckham - a top-class ball. You've seen today when Ledley King plays the difference he makes - if he didn't have a dodgy knee, you imagine him. He's strong, he's got pace and he can head it. Jonathan Woodgate is a top, top centre-half and we need to get them both on the pitch together."
Heurelho Gomes had some nervy moments in the Tottenham goal but Redknapp said he reminded him of Portsmouth and England keeper David James. "He gets involved - you could stand back and do nothing but there's a bit of David James about him and for me he's the best keeper I've ever worked with," he said. "He [Gomes] is strong and brave. He was injured at half-time but he played on. He's a top keeper; look at his record."
Redknapp, 61, must get his side ready for the sterner challenges of Arsenal and leaders Liverpool. "We have got two tough games to come but we can go to Arsenal with a bit of confidence," he said. As for the prospect of his television pundit son Jamie, a former Tottenham midfielder, joining him at White Hart Lane, Redknapp said: "I think he's happy doing what he's doing, getting his golf handicap down. I don't know whether he wants a non-stop job like this at this time."
Redknapp received a rapturous welcome from the Tottenham faithful when introduced to the crowd before kick-off. The Englishman wasted no time in setting about rebuilding Tottenham's season and probably the most notable inclusion was that of Ledley King in defence. There is no doubt the England defender is plagued by a knee injury that limits his appearances. However, Ramos rarely allowed King, who was making his 200th appearance for the club, to play two games in succession.
Redknapp also handed a recall to midfielder David Bentley, who was dropped by Ramos for the defeat to Udinese last Thursday in the UEFA Cup. The £15.8 million pre-season signing from Blackburn was not even named in the squad in Italy but responded to being given a start here by setting-up the first goal. His sweeping cross from the right wing was perfect for Pavlyuchenko, who capitalised on some poor marking, to head past Jussi Jaaskelainen in the 17th minute for the Russian forward's first Premier League goal.
Redknapp introduced Bent and Aaron Lennon with around 20 minutes remaining and they certainly made a difference. Bent's pace left the Bolton defence for dust and his powerful shot was expertly saved by Jaaskelainen. The goalkeeper then twice saved from Modric in quick succession. However, Jaaskelainen undid all his hard work when he clattered into Modric in the box in the 75th minute, leaving Marriner pointing to the penalty spot from where Bent eased Spurs' nerves.