SEVEN weeks have passed since I praised Harry Redknapp for finally, after all these barren decades, allowing Tottenham Hotspur to take part in a title race.

Alas – if you’re of the Lilywhite persuasion – Harry has spent much of that time unrolling his sleeves, putting his jacket back on and slowly backing away from the fight. Third or fourth will now do just fine, it seems. How very Spurs.

Yet results elsewhere mean the cockerel hasn’t yet flown entirely clear of the pressure cooker. Still in the hunt, Spurs have to deal, for a few weeks more at least, with the messy business of expectancy.

If they were any way serious at all, they’d be the side heading into the London-Manchester double-header with most to gain.

This afternoon, Arsenal are simply clawing at coattails. United will seemingly always make it to the business end no matter how dreadfully they are playing. City are treading water until they get Yaya out of Africa.

But this is when Spurs can make the big-game statement that keeps them around for the long haul.

Last weekend, during the NFL playoffs, Sky analyst Jeff Reinebold hailed the 49ers’ Alex Smith for a couple of nerveless moments that won an incredible game.

“When the great quarter-backs are needed, they put the team on their shoulders. Critical moments are when man measures man. A great one was born today.”

Smith was previously known as a man who did just enough. Today, it’s time for Gareth Bale, Luka Modric or even Rafael van der Vaart to emerge from the womb and go that extra few yards.

As Harry steps back, it’s time one of his men took a brave leap forward. But don’t count on it; it wouldn’t really be the Tottenham way.

First published in Irish Examiner


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