Spurs upbeat about Cup despite Stevenage draw
Updated Monday, 20th February 2012
Harry Redknapp is confident his Tottenham Hotspur side can go on to lift the FA Cup despite being held to a goalless draw away to League One Stevenage in the fifth round.
Redknapp knows 'smaller' clubs rarely go all the way, although he conceded third-tier Stevenage, who are now the lowest-ranked club left in the Cup, were more than worthy of being in the quarter-final draw.
"It's a good draw for the winners," he said on Sunday. "It's a home draw and you can't ask for anything more than that. Chelsea had a good draw too, at home to Birmingham, and Liverpool are at home (against Stoke) too.
"Usually the Cup ends up with a big club winning it. In the last few years it has been one of the top four who have won it," added Redknapp, who bucked that trend when he led Portsmouth to FA Cup glory in 2008.
Louis Saha saw a goal disallowed for offside in the 55th minute because it hit team-mate Scott Parker just before it crossed the line but Tottenham did not create many other chances.
"I expected it to be tough and it was," said Redknapp, who has guided Spurs to third place in the Premier League.
"The pitch was bumpy and the ball was bobbling everywhere. I have been in the same situation so many times in the past so nothing surprised me.
"We started lumping it, which wasn't part of the plan. The lads weren't that comfortable passing the ball on it and we ended up going long, which wasn't what we wanted to do. They pressed us and made it hard for us."
Spurs had to do without Emmanuel Adebayor (knee), 'flu victim Luka Modric and Benoit Assou-Ekotto (groin) against Stevenage.
Arsenal and Manchester United are their next opponents and Redknapp will be hoping he can call on all three for those important Premier League fixtures.
Football Association chairman David Bernstein was at the Lamex Stadium and Redknapp, the leading candidate to replace Fabio Capello, joked his chances of becoming England manager may have been diminished by the draw.
"I bet he was impressed by the football I served up," he quipped. "He's probably thinking 'who's this geezer?'"
The result was not a total surprise however as Stevenage, though a non-league side two seasons ago, are currently occupying a play-off position in League One and had not conceded even one goal in their four previous FA Cup ties.
Newcastle United had been beaten by them in the third round of last season's competition and Gary Smith, less than a month into the job as Graham Westley's successor as manager, had seen Alan Pardew's side thrashed 5-0 by Tottenham the previous week.
"You have to give credit to our players for interrupting their play," said the former Arsenal scout, whose reputation had been enhanced by a successful spell in the United States with the Colorado Rapids.
"I watched Scott Parker play against Newcastle last week and he absolutely tore them apart on his own.
"My guys were able to disrupt that, nick in and unsettle and Harry was frustrated because we forced them into a more direct style.
"I have a very hard-working and dogged group that prevented a tremendous Tottenham side from creating. There is a bundle of energy about the team and I am very pleased for them to come away with a result.
"We will try to win the replay, although we know it will be a different game at White Hart Lane."