Redknapp wrong to deflect blame of Tottenham defeat on Lennon injury

If Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham Hotspur manager, can deflect blame for Champions League defeat elsewhere he will, but Spurs knew Aaron Lennon wasn't well on Sunday; that's why he was prescribed a course of antibiotics.

Harry Redknapp, left, should have defended Aaron Lennon’s absence from Tuesday’s mauling at Real Madrid, instead of trying to make the Tottenham winger a scapegoat, says our columnist.
Powered by automated translation

I didn't like Harry Redknapp insinuating that Aaron Lennon had bottled it by pulling out of Tottenham Hotspur's game against Real Madrid on Tuesday.

But that's Harry, for you. If he can deflect blame elsewhere he will, but Spurs knew Lennon wasn't well on Sunday; that's why he was prescribed a course of antibiotics.

Good on Lennon for coming out and defending himself. A manager should defend his own player, not spin against him.

Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson's support of Wayne Rooney has been unwavering, but Wayne doesn't always help himself. I just don't understand: why is he so angry? His two-game ban is harsh and Manchester United will miss him as he is playing well.

On the field, it has been a great week of Champions League football, hasn't it?

Tottenham have enjoyed a far better-than-expected first run in the competition, but they will not be going any further after being crushed by Real Madrid. Peter Crouch was a little silly to get sent off so early in the game after two lunges and his side suffered accordingly.

It's hard enough playing at the Bernabeu with 11 men, let alone 10. It's such an intimidating place to go as a visiting player because of the size, reputation and the quality of players you always face there.

Tottenham were taken apart, but Schalke look set to join Real in the last four after scoring five in Milan against the holders Inter. The Germans have been poor in their own domestic Bundesliga but superb in Europe, with the Spanish forward Raul's experience vital.

I was surprised when he went there and thought he could say goodbye to adding any more European goals, but he's proved me wrong. German teams should never be underestimated; you only have to see their national sides to appreciate the quality of their players.

Manchester United or Chelsea will play them, but they should not underestimate them. When I was at United we met Schalke's rivals, Borussia Dortmund, in the 1997 Champions League semi-final. We were favourites. We went out.

Scoring five in the quarter-finals of the Champions League as Schalke did is rare … unless Barcelona are playing at home.

Real can win the tournament for a 10th time, but they will have to overcome Barcelona in the semi-finals, assuming Spurs are unable to pull off a shock comeback in the return leg against Jose Mourinho's side at White Hart Lane.

The Catalans are the best team in the world. They swatted Shakhtar Donetsk away like an annoying fly, their attacking play spectacular as ever. Any team who beats Barca will win that tournament. If Real can't do it in what will be such a huge semi-final, then I think Manchester United or Chelsea will provide the greatest challenge.

United had a great win at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, but the tie is far from over. United were holding on at the end of the game with Edwin van der Sar making a great save from Fernando Torres. Patrice Evra cleared another Chelsea effort off the line before half time, and Carlo Ancelotti's side will argue they were denied a stonewall penalty when Evra's heavy challenge brought Ramires down in the penalty area, but United held out.

Chelsea can win at Old Trafford, as they did last season, but things are coming good at the right time for United. They have very difficult games every week and none will be tougher than the FA Cup semi-final next week against Manchester City, minus the suspended Rooney. City really are due a win against United, but when I watched United roar back from 2-0 down to beat West Ham United 4-2 last weekend, I thought that I was watching the English champions.

United have benefited from Arsenal dropping far too many points and they don't have the backbone to stay with United until the end of the season.

Don't be surprised if they end up finishing third or fourth. They look very disenchanted at the moment, the opposite of United. My old gaffer [Ferguson] has been in this situation many, many times before, but even he needs luck.

When United reached the Champions League final in Moscow three years ago they didn't have a single injury. United were carrying several injuries two weeks ago, but most of the key players, such as Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, have come back just when they are needed.

I've heard talk of United winning the treble, but I would be made up if United won two trophies.

I've been there, I know how tough it is to win a treble and you need lots of luck. It's a cliche, but the gaffer will be taking every game as it comes. Players will be ultra professional and he won't hear any talk of trophies in the dressing room.

I've also seen fans say that United have been far from vintage this season and that's fair comment. But football is about getting results and winning, and that's what United have been very good at doing.