"Playing in the Champions League is a massive achievement and everyone gets a buzz out of being in it. But I can't deny it brings headaches. We have a strong and competitive squad but unlike last season when you would try to play your best 11 in every league game, we have to change things around. So if we can finish in the top four this season it will be a greater achievement than last time."
Harry Redknapp's musings about the challenges presented by playing in both the Premier and Champions League are largely correct, except perhaps in one respect. The "strong and competitive squad" have been tested against both a below-strength Arsenal team in the Carling Cup and bottom club West Ham at the weekend, and have been found wanting in each case.
There are, of course, the ongoing injury problems, evident on Saturday in the center of defence in particular, where Corluka and Bassong struggled against West Ham's Piquionne and Obinna. Although the prospects for Jonathan Woodgate are not encouraging - with the possibility of surgery followed by another year out of football - the team will be boosted at the back once Gallas, Dawson and King are fit again. Or, in King's case, as fit as he ever is. The more worrying problem currently is up front, with Spurs managing just six goals in six games against mostly modest opposition. Defoe is clearly missed, and Crouch worked hard enough against the Hammers without much service or success. With the side trailing 1-0 Redknapp boldly threw on Keane, Giovani and Pavlyuchenko, and it would be a toss-up to decide who was the most ineffective of the three. Spurs' best efforts on goal were from Van der Vaart and Modric, and only these two plus Cudicini can look back on this game with any sense of satisfaction.
What Spurs required when they fell behind was some fight and leadership, but they were never going to get either from their captain for the day. To put it kindly, Tom Huddlestone has never relished the physical side of the game and it's hard to imagine a less inspiring figure in the Spurs line-up when the chips are down. He capped another in and out display by missing Spurs' best chance of the afternoon, when put clean through by Alan Hutton.
Before the game, West Ham propped up the table with a single point from their first five games. Spurs, by contrast, were in the lofty position of fifth. The clubs are now separated by just four points, but significantly West Ham have already played Chelsea, Man. Utd. and Villa. Unless Spurs can start to pick up their league form, involvement in the group stages of the Champions League may prove to be a mixed blessing. Harry has said that "we want to be successful in both". Let's hope that Spurs don't end up being successful in neither.