By Chris Harris
A fresh start, or another false dawn? Only time will tell whether Harry Redknapp's time at Tottenham will end in cheers or tears but, in a matter of days, the former Pompey manager has certainly galvanised Arsenal's ailing rivals.
Within hours of his appointment Redknapp had overseen Tottenham's first win of the Premier League season and Spurs fans will travel to Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night with rather more optimism than they might have expected. A first win at Arsenal for 15 years would certainly blow away those cobwebs.
We asked Ben Pearce of the Tottenham Journal for a Spurs perspective ahead of the North London derby. Here's his take on a dramatic weekend at White Hart Lane, what Redknapp will bring to Spurs, the mistakes made in the summer and the problems they will face at the Emirates.
MAN OF THE MOMENT
"I think there is a very positive mood now Redknapp has arrived. At the Lane on Sunday all the Spurs fan were being really positive about it. I think the most important thing about it is that Daniel Levy is prioritising the league. Both him and Harry Redknapp have said that’s the priority now. I think Ramos’ mistakes were things like resting Ledley King in the league but playing him in the Uefa Cup. They have now got someone who knows what the Premier League is all about which means not only getting Spurs out of where they are at the moment but he’ll be looking for them to become a top four team. If he is there long-term then that will be his brief really. Out of relegation this year and then maybe into the top four where Martin Jol was trying to get them before he left.
"The fans all seem really, really positive about Redknapp's appointment. Being at the game yesterday everyone felt that they had someone who communicates well with the media and talks to the fans. He is an entertaining guy and a great motivator of the players which is something that was missing with Ramos. It was difficult for the media or the fans to ever get anything out of him. It partly wasn’t his fault because he didn’t speak English but Harry is a very open person and he is a great guy to have at the club and everyone is excited about the energy that he can bring to the club.
"As for the overhaul of the director of football system, I am not that surprised. The question last week was who will be going? It was clear that they couldn’t carry on and Daniel Levy himself was under pressure which probably played a slight part in this. I think he is a guy who loves the club and he didn’t like it when he was being rounded on. The fans wanted either Ramos or Damien Comolli gone and what they have got is both, which is incredibly brave. I think it is a positive move and it would have been difficult to have got rid of one but kept the other. Redknapp probably wouldn’t have worked under a director of football and there are questions over who is in charge of signings and all that kind of thing.
"I think a real shake-up of the club was needed after only two points from eight games. Lots of people had said there was a lot of problems and it was more than one man. There were the transfers over the summer, there was Ramos and a lot of other things. If you are going to have a complete break and re-energise the club you need to really start from scratch and that is what Levy has done."
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL?
"I think not only have there been fresh starts down the years but there have been fresh starts within seasons really. There have been a few times when everyone has been saying that the games haven’t gone our way and then there was the international break. After that they got a 1-1 draw with Chelsea and then there is another international break and all of a sudden things are as bad as they were before.
"What is different now is that they now have someone who really understands the Premier League and he knows all the teams inside out. Redknapp knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup last season and he knocked them out famously with West Ham as well. Ramos was still feeling his way around the other Premier League clubs, he knew what he was doing in Europe as he was renowned as a coach there, winning the Uefa Cup twice. Tactically he didn’t know what he was doing against a lot of the Premier League teams. I’m not sure he had done his homework on Hull, Stoke he probably underestimated and that is something that won’t happen under Redknapp. Not only does he know all his new players he will also know all the managers and all their strengths and weaknesses."
"They haven’t replaced Berbatov and Keane and it's important to point out that they were more than just two players. They had a great relationship and that is something that gets forgotten. Some of the greatest partnerships haven’t been necessarily the best individual players, they are just players who have gelled. They have had qualities which have matched each other well. Keane and Berbatov were both able to create chances as well as score them. One of the main problems has been that Roman Pavyluchenko missed the first three games of the season in which Darren Bent played up front by himself.
"Pavyluchenko doesn’t even speak English of course so they have got communication problems and they haven’t been able to work together in pre-season. They are both individually very good players, I think you saw in Euro 2008 that Pavyluchenko is a very good player. He will score goals and set-up goals for his team-mates. The relationship just isn’t there at the moment but that is just down to time more than anything. The question is whether Redknapp will give them time to work on that relationship or whether he will bring Frazier Campbell or new signings in instead."
"It is very difficult to say who has impressed me because the signings haven’t done particularly well at all. A lot of that is because there are so many of them. You have had the situations where there is a new keeper, a new centre back, a new central midfielder, a new right winger and a new striker, many of whom have been playing in all the games at the same time. Then there are people like Geovanni dos Santos and Campbell coming off the bench who are new as well. I think individually they have all got the potential to get a lot better. For example David Bentley is a very good player and was rightly touted as the possible natural successor to David Beckham. Luka Modric lit up Euro 2008 and Vedran Corluka is looking better and better in every game.
"Anyone who saw Modric play for Spurs at the weekend will have seen that he is a completely different player and Campbell has looked really energetic too. They have been seen as a problem in the first eight games but increasingly the fans are going to see that they are actually very good assets and worth every penny, it may just take a bit of time."
"I think all the best teams that have done well at Arsenal know that you have to limit the space and stop them from playing. It is also important to isolate Cesc Fabregas. You need to get really close to him, whether it is Tom Huddlestone or Didier Zokora, they will have to get close to him and be disciplined. There won't be many aerial balls flying in, mainly it is all on the ground from Arsenal. Spurs will have to watch out for the little through-balls. Theo Walcott is looking more and more dangerous in every game so Assou-Ekotto will have to be really careful at left back. He will have to make sure he doesn’t pick up a yellow card early on or he will get run ragged for the whole game.
"Arsenal aren’t looking particularly water-tight at the back at the moment so Tottenham will have to exploit the set pieces. They will need Bentley to be really consistent with his deliveries, assuming he plays, to give the centre backs lots and lots of problems. The key is to frustrate Arsenal and get the fans a bit whipped up. And it is possible. It will be a really tough game but it is not impossible, things can happen, if they hadn’t beaten Bolton it would have been a question of how many. Arsenal didn’t play particularly well at West Ham but Spurs did play well against Bolton so you never know what will happen."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 28 Oct 2008