x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Harry Redknapp bullish ahead of Manchester United clash

The Tottenham manager has respect for Sir Alex Ferguson's men but he believes the playing field has been levelled.

From right to left, Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart have all signalled their intent to stay at Tottenham.
From right to left, Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart have all signalled their intent to stay at Tottenham.

LONDON // Harry Redknapp believes his Tottenham Hotspur team are the equal of Manchester United and sees today's meeting at White Hart Lane as the chance to prove it.

Spurs finished fourth last season and were fifth in the table after yesterday's games. Victory today would see them close the gap on United to five points, and Redknapp thinks his side need to show the rest of the league that Tottenham should be considered genuine title challengers.

"Maybe this is not one of the great Manchester United teams. They have had some fantastic sides there over the years but this one hasn't really hit the heights," Redknapp said.

"But they are still a very good team and as it stands favourites for the title. But we are in excellent form and I go into this game believing we are now their equals. And if we can win this game then I really think it will set down a marker and show we really can go for the title.

"I guess you could say this is a must win game for us."

While Tottenham's form this season - including wins over Arsenal, Chelsea and Inter Milan - gives Redknapp reason to be confident, their record against United is dismal - they last won a league game against them 10 years ago.

"When I look back over my career this is the strongest and best team I have managed," Redknapp added. "In the past players like [Michael] Carrick and [Dimitar] Berbatov were allowed to move on to United. But the club is looking to keep our best players, not sell them."

It is encouraging for Tottenham that players such as Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric have, for the moment, pledged their future to the club. It is a sign of Tottenham's intent to cement their spot near the top of the English game.

Indeed, Redknapp is hoping to make at least on e addition to his squad during the transfer window.

"I'd like to bring in a magic player who can give us something extra up front," said Redknapp, who has agreed to let Robbie Keane, the forward, move to Birmingham City.

"The trouble is it is very hard to find that sort of player and if you do most clubs won't let them go at this time of year."

Tottenham's emergence was acknowledged by Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager.

"I can't remember going to the Lane with Tottenham challenging for the title," he said.

"That's a measure of their change under Harry. He's done a fantastic job. They have some really exciting players now. This game will be a massive test for us."

The match will signify another landmark for the incredible Ryan Giggs. It will be his 600th league appearance. And the 37-year-old winger - who is set to agree a deal to assist Gary Speed, the new Wales national manager - will have talks next week with United over a new contract for next season.

sports@thenational.ae

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