In contrast to Mancio’s unflustered assertion that ‘this is a football match, not a war,’ Spurs boss Harry Redknapp keeps up the media offensive ahead of tonight’s massive game…
Harry, who has done a tremendous job in dragging what is in itself a historically well funded Tottenham squad up from relegation candidates to top four contenders has bizarrely (in the context of tonight’s clash) singled out Craig Bellamy’s signing for City following relentless pursuit from Mark Hughes for comment before the two sides meet:
‘I was interested in Bellamy and we tried to sign him. At the time I was trying to sign Bellamy, we were after Wilson Palacios as well. And then City came and said: ‘If you don’t drop out of Bellamy, we’ll sign Palacios as well, and you won’t get either of them. But if you pull out of Bellamy, we’ll pull out of Palacios and then we both get a player. They just said: ‘We’ll blow you out of the water.”
The Spurs boss is threatening to give City’s players, particularly Bellamy, their team talk and has again indulged in a dalliance with Taggart style mind games in reiterating that City are under pressure:
‘For sure, there is more pressure on them. At the start of the year we all felt that if anyone was going to break in to the top four then realistically it was going to be Manchester City. You could see the regular four teams being there with maybe Manchester City the one club that could push into the group with the resources and the money they have spent, so there is no real pressure on us.’
Certainly City’s squad has gelled much quicker than expected across football after last summer’s major overhaul as only the rags being the one side from ‘The Sky Big Four’ to beat them this season shows. The double over Chelsea was no fluke and if anything, this City side tend to drift into complacency only when expected to stroll to a win.
But back to Bellamy, and he’ll be reading with great interest this morning Redknapp’s hinted assertion that players only sign for Manchester City for money:
If you can persuade a player to come to your club for football reasons, then you’ve still got a chance. Ninety-nine per cent of players will go where the extra 20 grand is.’
For his part, in a nicely timed response, Bellamy has underlined his commitment to Manchester City and his faith in his manager Roberto Mancini. Many hacks in the ‘Street of Shame’ will be left crestfallen at his public show of unity:
‘I knew when I signed for Manchester City that I would have to graft and take myself to a level that I had not reached for a while. But that appeals to me and the thought of more players arriving this summer and fighting for my place with a new calibre of teammate appeals to me even more. It’s going to be incredible. Who would not want to be part of City at the moment?’
Bellers refutes the suggestion that it’s curtains if City fail to win tonight:
‘If we finish fourth it allows us to drive forward a little bit quicker. But it’s not do or die for us. It’s not like, if we don’t get fourth this season, we’ll have blown our best chance at it and the opportunity might never come round again. If it’s not this season, then we’ll be back. We will be knocking on the door again straight away.
And of his relationship with Mancio, the fiery City frontman said:
‘You would know about it if there were problems between me and Mancini, I promise you. We both speak very bad English so we don’t talk a lot but there is not a problem. No problem at all!
‘I think the club has to stick with the manager. We have brought him in. If we are going to be successful, we have to stick with the manager and he has to have full control.’
Craig Bellamy, with all his wealth of big city derbies and high pressure matches is precisely the type of player you would want on your side tonight and Harry Redknapp knows it.
His need to talk about Bellamy at length speaks volumes.
Follow the action and debate live tonight via the popular VMC Live Match Thread in the VMC Forums:
City v Spurs – Wed 5th May – KO 8pm – Match Day Thread