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Tootle's 'slug' goal celebration

The Toe Poke

Harry claims postponement 'blessing'

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp believes the postponement of his side's opening game against Everton may just have helped spark their Premier League title challenge.

Spurs' opening day fixture at home to the Toffees in August had to be rearranged after riots broke out in the Tottenham area in the days leading up to the curtain-raiser. The game will finally be played on Wednesday night, with Spurs knowing victory will put them level on points with Manchester United - and just three behind league leaders Manchester City.

With the club in the title race Redknapp believes the postponement has proven to be something of a "blessing", as it enabled him to bring in two crucial players and overcome what had been a summer of some turmoil at White Hart Lane.

"I felt we were struggling at the start of year - the postponement might have been a blessing," Redknapp said. "It wasn't a good time as Luka [Modric] was [maybe] going [to Chelsea]. [Scott] Parker and [Emmanuel] Adebayor were not here and we didn't have a great pre-season in terms of being prepared. In the end, it might turn out to be a blessing."

Spurs went on to lose their opening two league matches, against both their Manchester title rivals, but Redknapp insists those losses never made him feel that a strong league campaign was out of the question.

"I just felt if we could get Scott Parker in and Adebayor on loan that would make a difference," he added. "There was a feeling around the club that it was a difficult period, that first couple of weeks."

Redknapp is hoping his side can take advantage of the opportunity to press their title credentials, believing United boss Sir Alex Ferguson's refusal to rule them out of the hunt indicates they have a real chance.

"It's just another win but they know that we are there or thereabouts," he said. "Fergie [Sir Alex Ferguson] will look at it and say, 'They are going well, they are playing well'. He is not disrespectful to write us off completely. It is difficult for us to finish above them or Man City - you just never know do you?"

Meanwhile, Everton's Phil Neville has pinpointed Gareth Bale as Tottenham's key threat - admitting the left winger might be the best in Europe and will require extra attention from David Moyes' side.

"I see a better player than the one from last season,' said Neville. "Gareth is adding things to his game every year. When I was young, each year I was told 'You have got to add something new to you game' - you have got to try and improve five or 10 per cent if you can.

"I see him doing things now that he wasn't doing 12 months ago. Teams have tried to block him on the flanks but he has started coming into the middle. He has started scoring a lot of goals and that is something he has added.

"[Last year] I was given a lot of help by my team-mates [against him], as is always the case. You never get left on your own when you play for Everton. But he is maturing into an outstanding left-winger - he's probably the best in the Premier League if not in Europe right now."


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