Harry Redknapp may have his mind on other things at the moment but his reputation as the transfer deadline day wheeler and dealer par excellence was sorely tested on January 31st.
With Manchester City slipping to defeat at Everton in its final hours, Spurs’ 3-1 defeat of Wigan left his side just five points behind the league leaders and second-placed Manchester United. Yet the signing of 33-year-old injury prone striker Louis Saha from Everton on an 18-month deal was the Londoners’ sole acquisition on deadline day (Spanish midfielder Yago Falque joined earlier in the month from Juventus and was promptly loaned out to Southampton).
In fact it was the exit door at White Hart Lane which was notably busy with a string of Spurs’ reserves leaving for new climes. Steven Pienaar returned to Everton on loan one year after leaving Goodison Park, a deal which should serve both parties well whilst Sebastien Bassong will similarly bolster Wolves’ defence whilst at Molineux until the end of the season.
Roman Pavlyuchenko will return to Russia with Lokomotiv Moscow in an £8million deal which ends his indifferent spell at White Hart Lane and Croatian international Vedran Corluka has also moved to Bayer Leverkusen on loan until the end of the season.
The overriding impression of these outgoings is that Redknapp is prepared to risk cutting the size of his squad by removing bit-part players like Bassong, Corluka and Pienaar whilst Saha can be considered a direct replacement for Pavlyuchenko. Yet the feeling persists that Spurs’ fans would have expected at least one marquee signing in order to prove that the club was going all out for the title.
With City faltering and a vulnerable United similarly quiet on deadline day, Spurs are genuine title contenders. When their first eleven are fit and raring to go there is not a better side in the country at the moment yet if a couple of injuries hit key players Spurs will struggle to play with the same brio and verve.
The introductions of Emmanuel Adebayor and Scott Parker during the August transfer window was the catalyst that propelled Spurs up the table and into the position they now occupy.
It is perhaps most unfortunate that the unsettled Carlos Tevez is at Manchester City (who certainly wouldn’t loan him to a title rival) because he is precisely the kind of signing Redknapp would have loved to have made in the window and may have been the final piece in the jigsaw for the club’s first title triumph since 1960-61.
As it is Saha, whilst a quality striker in his prime, can surely now only be considered a back-up for Adebayor and Jermain Defoe and impact substitute at best.
Redknapp will hope that his first team stay fit and his trimmed-down squad can emulate the Aston Villa title-winning side of 1980-81 who only used an incredible 14 players during their 42-match league campaign.
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