It is not uncommon, in times of desperation, for Premier League managers to turn to their rivals for sage advice. Half a dozen have admitted to using a cold war style hotline to Sir Alex Ferguson, with the wily old don more than happy to pass on his wealth of experience over a bottle fine wine. While they may pick each others brains from time to time, however, few as gone as far as Harry Redknapp, who strengthened his brittle midfield this month by purchasing Steve Bruce's "right arm".
Those worried they might see Bruce's hairy limb scampering up and down
"Whatever happens, it will take top dollar to get him. He showed against United what he can do but in two years time, he can be the best around," said Bruce when first alerted to Redknapp's interest in the player early this month. £14m the
Before reluctantly accepting his fate, fending off interest in the
Lauded for his bull-like tackling, excellent range of passing and technical ability, Palacios was signed by Redknapp as the ball winner his squad desperately lacks. He arrives in
In October 2007, when Palacios was playing for
He returned to
If Bruce was impressed with Palacios' technical ability and stamina, he was taken aback by his focus during a time when many other players may have wilted. His mental toughness is part of the reason why Redknapp, who bemoaned the lack of "winners" in his squad after the loss to
"I need to get Palacios in because he is everything I have been wanting," said Harry of the selection dilemma his new signing has posed. The 24-year-old is set to make his debut against
Among those to shine were Luka Modric and Didier Zokora, who will now vie with Palacios for the two berths in the centre of midfield. Being spoilt for choice is a welcome headache for Redknapp, but fitting them all in the same team may well prove difficult, especially given his reluctance to play Defoe, his other expensive January acquisition, as a lone forward.
"I'd just have to adjust the formation really [to get Palacios in]," said Redknapp, "because he is a central midfielder and I need Zokora as well. Zokora did a good job defensively against Stoke, he sat in there and let Luka play so between the three of them and I've got [Jermaine] Jenas - coming back [from a calf injury]… I'm strong in midfield and I have some good options."
Redknapp talks of the need to "balance the team up" and is toying with adopting a 3-5-2 formation to accommodate two strikers, but fans will naturally question why he has invested such a large fee on a player without being certain of how to use him. Most would suggest a midfield duo of Palacios and Modric, but Redknapp believes Zokora provides the anchor for for the diminutive Croat to pull the strings.
Where this leaves Jermaine Jenas is not clear. Since Redknapp arrived the midfielder has lost his place in the
It is unlikely that Redknapp is offering a player he describes as "his hero" to other clubs but Jenas, along with Tom Huddlestone and Jamie O'Hara face may struggle to convince Redknapp that they can be part of his attempts to fashion a side fit to challenge for a place in the among the best the country.
He said: "I'd love to win trophies and try to compete for a Champions League position.
"Basically the dream is to make Tottenham a terrific team once again."
One suspects that if he is to make this dream a reality, a midfielder from La Ceiba,
Two's company, three's a crowd…
Following the signing of Wilson Palacios, Redknapp half a dozen players competing for two places at the heart of his midfield, but who will he pick?
Luka Modric (Appearances, 29, goals 3)
Redknapp has all but admitted that the Croatian playmaker is un-droppable and it seems to be his aim to build a team around him. He struggled to come to terms with the physicality of English football at first but has since proved himself as more than a match for even the most physical sides, as can be seen by his impressive showing against Stoke on Tuesday.
Role: One of the first names on the team-sheet.
Didier Zokora (123, 0)
The Ivorian has a fantastic engine but the technical side of his game lets him down. He is wasteful in possession and poses no goal threat, but his driving runs can cause all sort of problems. Needs to work on his consistency but has a good chance of retaining his place following Harry's recent comments.
Role: First choice, for now.
Jamie O'Hara (48, 6)
Made the difference in the second half of the first leg against
Role: A useful squad player.
Tom Huddlestone (104, 9)
Time is running out for a player who is struggling to realise his obvious potential. Has fallen behind Zokora as Redknapp's preferred partner for Modric. He is the best passer in the side and on his day can run a midfield but probably lacks the mobility to be top class midfielder.
Role: Squad player but for how long?
Jermaine Jenas (135, 23)
A favourite of Martin Jol and Juande Ramos, but a scapegoat for many fans, Jenas has been a first choice midfielder since he joined from
Role: No longer first choice.
Wilson Palacios (yet to play)
Role: Price tag says first choice but where does he fit in?