What a difference a new face makes. Less than a month in the Tottenham job and the Arsenal-supporting, former West Ham and Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp has single-handedly picked the football's laughing stock up, given it a well needed shake and sent it back out into the hostile waters of the Premier League with clear instructions on how to swim and not sink.
Redknapp's arrival to steady a ship disappearing without a trace under Juande Ramos has produced results that point to top four form, not that of a club languishing near the bottom. Proof of Redknapp's coaching strengths can be readily identified in attack and midfield. After spending £14million (Dh 80.7m) on Roman Pavlyuchenko, deemed 'too similar' to a misfiring Darren Bent by the previous regime, the Russian has responded with two crucial goals, the latter the winner against Liverpool, after being set up by his 'too similar' strike partner.
Redknapp rarely plays the two together from the start, but once the game has opened up it is noticeable Spurs finish games much stronger and look more threatening with both on the field. Under Ramos Spurs looked lightweight in midfield.Redknapp has installed the formidable Tom Huddlestone as his midfield general to enable Luca Modric to be moved further up the field, where he is far more damaging.
Redknapp's first appearance at White Hart Lane produced the desired effect. The Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has been on borrowed time with the fans and was in need of a quick return on his latest investment. He got it. Redknapp's ability to galvanise an under-performing team yielded immediate results as the club registered their first Premier League win of the season with Bent and Pavlyuchenko both on target against Bolton.
That result lifted expectations that with Redknapp at the helm, relegation for the first time since 1978 would be avoided. The next match raised expectations that this season could spring more ups than it has downs after all. Pulsating, thrilling - editors exhausted every superlative to describe the 4-4 draw against Arsenal at fortress Emirates. The Spurs substitute Aaron Lennon, brought on to stretch a tiring Arsenal defence, gained a point with virtually the last kick of the game.
It didn't matter that our winless league streak against the Gunners was extended, what we saw on the pitch was Redknapp's brand of entertaining football mixed with his own indefatigable knack of upsetting the bigger teams. Last weekend saw the welcomed return of another trait that had been missing - luck, the good kind - as Spurs rode theirs against a table-topping Liverpool side with the help of the woodwork and a Jamie Carragher own goal to win 2-1.
But it would be a grave injustice to attribute Redknapp's influence on the team to luck. He is doing a magnificent job with the same group of players Ramos had. He has the same headache of nursing the club's best player, Ledley King, through the season with dodgy knees limiting him to one game in three. But Redknapp has instilled a winning belief and mentality to his charges that has also seen them get their Uefa Cup campaign back on track following Thursday's 4-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb. The players play with poise and purpose and with a game plan that, so far, is being carried out to the letter.
As long as the players keep carrying out those instructions, expect to hear the cockerel crowing loud and proud over this suburb of north London for some time to come. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org