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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League about an hour ago
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Feb 11, 2012

Five star Spurs underline credentials

On a night when a Harry Redknapp tribute concert was staged at White Hart Lane, the stars he may be about to leave behind gave all in attendance a night to remember.

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The offer to become England manager will soon tug at Redknapp's nationalistic heart strings, but the Tottenham team he has built into title contenders in double-quick time did their bit to remind their manager that walking away from the empire he has built may not be so wise after all.

There were those who wondered whether the speculation over Redknapp's future would affect the mindset of his team against Newcastle, yet this was a night when Tottenham reminded all present that they are now ready to take on the best in the game.

Oozing with pace, dynamism and thrilling attacking intent, a Newcastle team that have proved to be dogged opponents for the majority of their opponents this season had no answer to Tottenham's brilliance as they produced an opening 45 minutes that was as captivating as any team has produced in recent years.

A 4-0 half-time score line hardly flattered Redknapp's side as they shot out of the blocks in devastating fashion to open the scoring after four minutes through Benoit Assou-Ekotto, before Louis Saha scored his first goal for Spurs a couple of minutes later.

It was enough to spark wild celebrations at White Hart Lane, with the Spurs fans offering persistent adoring chants to Redknapp designed to remind him that his future does not need to be with England. For his part, the man in the full glare of the spotlight this week constantly acknowledged their support from his perch on the touchline.

Saha and Niko Kranjcar fired home two more brilliantly crafted goals before the break as Newcastle's flimsy resistance was broken and all the while, Redknapp sat coolly on the bench without showing too much outward emotion. After a long tiring week, he may not have had too much more energy to give.

As an attacking unit, Spurs were potent throughout, with Emmanuel Adebayor's superb in leading their forward line. His set-up play and movement was central to Tottenham's domination, with Saha, Kranjcar, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale all feeding off the service he provided.

It was fitting that Adebayor added the fifth for a Spurs side that took their foot off the gas after the break, as the second half turned into a drive from the White Hart Lane faithful to remind Redknapp how much he is loved at this club.

Whether swapping this gloriously maturing team and a comfortable life to take on a job that has brought even the most popular of national figures to his knees in the last few decades would be a sound career move remains to be seen, but Redknapp still seemed keen to keep his options open as he met the media.

"I have loved every minute of my time here and owe the club a lot for the way they backed me when I had this court case hanging over me," said Redknapp, refereeing to the tax evasion legal battle he successfully won on Wednesday. "This was another fantastic night for us. We played some great stuff against a good Newcastle side.

"This is the best team I have managed in my career, for sure, and I can't say I've had a bad day since I've been at Tottenham. Everyone, from the chairman to the players and the fans have been great to me and we have assembled a top class side. We have a good gap between ourselves and the teams behind us now and that is what I keep looking at. The title is not something I think too much about if I'm being honest.

"There is nothing more I can say about the England job. Tottenham or myself have not had a call about it and until we do, there is no decision to make. There is nothing more to say really."

That Redknapp was speaking in the past tense about his time at this club does not bode well the hearty campaign mounted by Spurs fans to keep their manager in position, yet his opposite number suggested it would be difficult for him to walk away from a team that are in such outstanding form.

"Harry has a fantastic group of players there and looking at that display, it might not be easy for him to say I will leave them behind for the England job," says Pardew. "Tottenham were sublime at times against us. Their passing and movement would have given any team trouble and we were the ones on the receiving end.

"I'm sure Harry will get a phone call in the next few days when he will have to think about the England job, but there is no doubt he would leave a wonderful team as his legacy at Tottenham if he does decide to go."

Pardew's polished press conference performance confirmed his growing standing as a possible England manager of the future, but the man apparently destined to inherit the throne now would have driven back to his Dorset home on Saturday night lamenting how the two defining chapters of his career have collided in such unfortunate fashion.

Had Redknapp enjoyed ten years of success in building Tottenham side's of this ilk, he could have walked into the England job with a clear conscience knowing that he has achieved all he can as club manager, but his exit now would leave him to reflect on some unfinished business.

While he is dodging the bullets that generally go with being England boss, some lucky soul be trying to finish off the job he has started at Spurs and if Jose Mourinho or any other potential successor watched this captivating performance, they would happily sign up to take Redknapp's job White Hart Lane chief.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Emmanuel Adebayor - The Togo striker turned in a vintage strikers display as he created chances for his team-mates and scored a goal himself. The former Arsenal target man was magnificent.

REDKNAPP TRIBUTES: His players and the White Hart Lane fans reminded Redknapp that staying as a club manager may not be a bad idea after all. The adoration flowing in his direction must have moved him.

HAND SHAKE DEBATE: Spurs boss Redknapp called for an end to the pre-match hand shake that caused so much turmoil in the Manchester United v Liverpool game earlier in the day. "We have had too many problems with this hand shake now, so I don't think it's doing the game any good," argued Redknapp.

NEWCASTLE VERDICT: Out of their depth against a rampant Spurs, Pardew's agonised antics on the touchline confirmed this was one of his more painful nights as Newcastle manager. He should reflect that there is no shame in losing to this magnificent Tottenham side.

SPURS VERDICT: Their first half performance in this game was as good as Tottenham fans have seen from their team in a couple of decades and if they maintain this form, a title charge may not be out of the question, yet Redknapp's imminent exit has the potential to blow them off course.

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