TOTTENHAM boss Harry Redknapp is confident he can close the gap with Arsenal while bringing back British traditions to White Hart Lane.
Spurs may have more silverware than their bitter rivals in the last three years but Arsenal still have bragging rights in north London under Arsene Wenger by consistently qualifying for the Champions League.
The Gunners have been underpinned by Frenchman Wenger, his cosmopolitan players and a global scouting network — their victory against West Ham on Sunday saw Theo Walcott as the only Englishman playing for them.
In contrast, Redknapp wants homegrown backroom staff and has targeted Tim Sherwood as an assistant to join coach Kevin Bond in the new set-up.
Redknapp is also considering offering Les Ferdinand a part-time role coaching his strikers.
Redknapp is the most expensive English manager following his weekend move from Portsmouth — and he feels there is more homegrown talent outside the top flight.
“I want to encourage the younger coaches to come in and get involved because we’ve got to start to producing some young English managers who can manage at the highest level,” Redknapp said.
“Not all foreign managers are fantastic, we’ve got some great ones but they are not all great. I’d love to see more English managers promoted and being given jobs at bigger clubs.”
When his backroom staff have been decided, the task will be to challenge the likes of Arsenal for a place in the top four of the Premier League.
After defeating Bolton on Sunday in his opening game in charge, Redknapp has the chance of inspiring the first league win over Arsenal this century when he takes his team to the Emirates Stadium tonight.
“Arsenal have moved ahead, without a doubt,” Redknapp said. “It’s going to take time. They’ve moved away this season and there is a fair gap but with hard work it can be closed.
“They are both major clubs and it is up to us to get Tottenham back to where they should be.
“It’s going to be a tough task going to Highbury... the Emirates Stadium is tough too. They’re a fantastic team and pass the ball brilliantly but we passed the ball well on Sunday.”
Meanwhile former Tottenham manager Juande Ramos admits the departures of Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov were major factors in Spurs’ troubled start to the season. Ramos feels the loss of the club’s two senior forwards — to Liverpool and Man United respectively — dealt a blow from which the side never recovered.
“In the summer we experienced a difficult pre-season due to the changes in the squad, which prevented us from working with the tranquility that the summer preparation needs,” he said in an open letter on his personal website.
“The departures of Robbie Keane and Berbatov, important players in the team for their technical and human qualities and their scoring abilities, was too hard a blow for the squad.’’
The decision to sack Ramos came almost exactly 12 months to the day after he joined the club from Sevilla, whom he led to two successive UEFA Cup triumphs.
Last season he led Spurs away from the relegation zone into lower mid-table and guided them to the Carling Cup, but while be believes those achievements should be ranked as “tremendously successful”, Ramos acknowledges the team’s form this season always left him open to dismissal.
He said: “I know the unwritten rules of football and that’s why I accept the decision taken by the leaders of Tottenham Hotspur.
“We arrived with the highest hopes to a team in the relegation zone in a situation similar to that which is found at these moments, and we had a good start which saw us get to the middle of the table.
“Furthermore, we were able to qualify for Europe when it seemed almost impossible.
“We also achieved the difficult challenge of lifting a title, which after nine years without tasting success was an enormous joy for all the club.
“For this we can catalogue last season as tremendously successful.”
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