Home » EPL, FA Cup, Latest » FA Cup Semi Final: Tottenham 1 Chelsea 5

This is already feeling like a defining week for Harry Redknapp. An FA Cup semi-final, murmurings that the Football Association are finally going to make their move to appoint the next England manager and a Premier League encounter next Saturday, away to Queens Park Rangers, which cannot be lost in the pursuit of Champions League football.

It could be six days to define his career; to mark him out as a manager.

But how can that happen after this? On Sunday night Redknapp will have cursed his luck; he will have shaken his head in disbelief; he will have raged against the hand fate dealt him.

Losing to Didier Drogba’s fine strike, having hit the post and had a header from Rafael Van der Vaart cleared off the line, Spurs suffered the grossest of injustices in Juan Mata’s goal that should never have been given.

It was an astonishing decision by referee Martin Atkinson – how could he possibly justify it? It wasn’t even close – and there will be all kinds of ramifications for the official this morning, while Redknapp was left stunned on the touchline at how events have turned for him – and against him at times – in recent weeks.

Redknapp has already been through one defining week this season with Fabio Capello quitting as England manager and, more importantly for him, his acquittal after standing trial for tax evasion.

At that time he, and Spurs, appeared destined for third place and greater possibilities – maybe even still a Premier League title challenge – were opening up.

They were the league’s entertainers, rightly lauded, playing the most attractive football in the division and with Redknapp riding the crest of public and media approval that he was then to be anointed as the man to take England to the Euro 2012 championships and beyond.

It’s likely that Spurs will get that call from the FA in the next few days with general secretary Alex Horne, while insisting there remained a shortlist of candidates and not just one choice, saying: “We’re waiting until the tail end of the season. We’re not far away now.” Then, he said, they would “slot” a manager in. If only it were that simple.

For it’s been an uncomfortable few weeks for Redknapp as his side have won just one league match in their last eight, losing a 12-point advantage to the closest rivals Arsenal and with Newcastle United and Chelsea bearing down on them for that fourth place.

He has tried all sorts of tactics and line-ups and protestations during that time, ridiculing the notion that the England talk has distracted either him or his players, but something has changed.

The exertions of the campaign may have caught up on Spurs, but that doesn’t quite bear scrutiny.

Chelsea bore down on Spurs last night. They, too, have looked tired of late and it’s been a hard season for them, not least psychologically. But they took the lead through Drogba and then were gifted a goal by Atkinson before Spurs quickly pulled one back with Gareth Bale running the ball into the net. Even then Spurs will have felt aggrieved as surely there was a case for Petr Cech to be dismissed for hurtling into Emmanuel Adebayor as he ran clear of the injured David Luiz.

It was developing into a totally chaotic encounter with both sides having shown their commitment with the line-ups they fielded.

Indeed Redknapp – like Chelsea’s interim head coach Roberto Di Matteo – spoke about his affinity with the FA Cup with two of his greatest managerial accomplishments in this competition – knocking out the FA Cup holders Manchester United while he was at Bournemouth in 1984 and then winning the trophy with Portsmouth in 2008.

Full-strength and with Aaron Lennon and Bale in tandem on the wings, Redknapp was able to reunite Luka Modric and Scott Parker in his midfield and they quickly gained the initiative over Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel.

But the Drogba goal and the Mata controversy knocked them back before Bale brought another dimension to proceedings.

In that technical area – it was a curious coincidence that Redknapp was given the space also usually assigned the England manager – he became an increasingly tense figure with his hands shoved deep into his coat as he walked back and forth.

His team lived on a knife-edge. Knowing they needed a goal, and the clock ticking down, they committed forward leaving themselves vulnerable to the counter-attack and more than once a last-ditch tackle by a Spurs defender kept the contest alive.

It was nerve-shredding stuff for Spurs (and for Chelsea of course) and for players who are running close to empty at this stage of the campaign.

Redknapp, rightly, rolled the dice and turned to the proven striker on his bench in Jermain Defoe. Instead it was Chelsea who struck and as Ramires’s lifted the ball into the net, Redknapp rocked on his heels alongside his assistant, Joe Jordan.

He must have felt a tumult of emotions, a bitter frustration at how events were running way from him and his team and the debate as to whether he has let things slip too.

The tension in his face was clear. This does feel like a defining week for him but that first conclusion, losing this semi-final, was muddied by the rank injustice served on him and on Spurs despite the emphatic scoreline that then unfolded and added salt to the raw wounds.

Tottenham Hotspur’s frustration boiled over in injury time when Parker lashed out at John Obi Mikel after the Nigerian kicked the England captain while he was on the floor. Both were booked.

The humiliation was complete moments later when Malouda got on the end of Mata’s pass and slid past Cudicini for Chelsea’s fifth.

Related Posts

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.