Parker refuses to panic

Wigan Athletic 2 Tottenham 2

On the day when former Tottenham player and manager Ossie Ardiles, who retains close links at White Hart Lane, stated that Gareth Bale is “100%” certain to leave Spurs if they fail to secure Champions League football, they suffered a result that did major harm to their hopes of the top four.

In fact they were fortunate that Emmerson Boyce’s last-minute own-goal got them a point out of a trip to the DW Stadium that failed to put the requisite pressure on Arsenal or Chelsea.

With the new television deal on its way, forcing their way back into Europe’s top competition this time around could help them cement their place there, while failure to do so will certainly dull the momentum they have gathered under Andre Villas-Boas.

They have four games remaining, including matches against Southampton, Stoke and Sunderland, and it looks very much like their chances of returning to the Champions League after a two-year hiatus will depend on their trip to Stamford Bridge on May 8.

They fell away from contention in 2011 and even though they managed to finish fourth last season, their place was taken away when Chelsea won the Champions League. Given their reputation for brittleness, midfielder Scott Parker is certain Spurs will not throw away this opportunity.

“People will always ask whether we can handle the pressure and put those questions to us because of what happened in the past, but I don’t think there is anything psychological happening,” Parker said.

“We are showing character and belief. I don’t know what the stats are but apart from Manchester United I think we might be one of the best teams to come back from losing positions.

“We have to go to Chelsea and play them so that could be the decider. There are still four games and we have to keep battling, we have a tough game against Southampton now but it looks like the Chelsea game is going to be a pivotal one.”

A team with their pretensions certainly should have capitalised on being gifted the start they were by Wigan, with Bale only having to stick out a leg to divert Joel Robles’ attempted clearance into the net after the Spanish goalkeeper and Maynor Figueroa wasted three chances to clear.

Emmerson Boyce equalised with a header from Shaun Maloney’s corner before Callum McManaman continued his transformation from ‘the bloke who made that disgraceful tackle’ on Newcastle’s Massaido Haidara last month into a Premier League player with a fine second, drifting past Kyle Naughton before thumping in from the edge of the area for his first Premier League goal.

But in the final minute a Tom Huddlestone free-kick was diverted into his own net by Boyce, meaning Wigan could fall five points from safety if Aston Villa beat Sunderland tonight.

Wigan have matches against West Brom, Swansea, Arsenal and Villa to come and midfielder James McArthur is expecting more of the same from McManaman.

“A lot of bad things got said about him but it was a challenge he made to try and win the ball,” McArthur said.

“As for dealing with it, he’s doing his talking on the field and that’s the most important thing.”

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox