Just as the questions about England are banned, there are more things to wonder about.
For all the mitigating circumstances of Tottenham’s recent form, there is no dressing up the fact that Tottenham have lost three consecutive Premier League matches for the first time under Harry Redknapp.
Just as they caused Manchester United all sorts of problems at White Hart Lane before slipping to a 3-1 defeat, they dominated the second period at Goodison Park on the way to their latest loss.
If they had closed out their game at the Emirates, where they led 2-0 last month, they could have coasted into a 10-point lead over Arsenal but as it is, Arsene Wenger’s men could move within a point of them with a victory against Newcastle this evening.
Talk of ‘distractions’ and players being ‘affected’ by things is a relatively new phenomenon but it is an accusation that has been pushed at Tottenham and Redknapp ever since the manager was installed as overwhelming favourite to replace Fabio Capello after the Italian walked out last month.
An excuse? “Absolute rubbish, absolute rubbish. You saw the effort,” Redknapp said. “How can it destabilise the team when they come out and play like they did out there and keep on going? They ain’t just gone ‘the manager is leaving we ain’t bothered any more’. We have had three very, very difficult games.
“Man U, Arsenal away and Everton away, who have beaten Man City here and Chelsea here. They are dogged. They hung on in there and rode their luck. It is a tough place to come.”
Talk of a sustained push for the title disappeared weeks ago, with Spurs now clinging on to their top-four place.
Put simply, the Redknapp situation will remain an issue until England appoint their next man but the current Tottenham boss concedes a lack of depth has cost him this season.
At the weekend, with Aaron Lennon out with a hamstring problem, Gareth Bale was pressed into an unfamiliar and unconvincing stint on the right and Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe underwhelmed.
Without Lennon and Bale they lack balance.
“It is just that bit of quality in the end, the strength of your squad,” Redknapp added. “The players who came are now going to have to carry us for quite a few weeks because [William] Gallas is out, [Michael] Dawson is out and Lennon is out so we haven’t maybe got the strength in depth of some of the other clubs.
“We have a lot of quality but we are maybe just a bit short of that. We are bang there and we will still be there at the end. We will still finish third, that’s my opinion.”
Six weeks after joining in a €7.1 million deal from Rangers, Nikica Jelavic, whose time on Merseyside has been plagued by abdominal problems, marked his first start with a fine goal, clipping a shot past Brad Friedel from Leon Osman’s pull-back.
They withstood Tottenham’s second-half pressure, taking the points thanks to Louis Saha prodding against the post in added time and are now firmly entrenched in their traditional end-of-season surge.
Unbeaten in seven in the Premier League, they could move above Liverpool with a win at Anfield tomorrow night and host Sunderland in the FA Cup quarter-finals at the weekend.
“We are not really looking at this as a run. We are just looking to the next game,” the outstanding Osman said.
“It will certainly give us confidence, especially the way we went about it in the first half and battled in the second. But the next one is the derby and anything can happen there.”
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