In truth, the three points came as no great surprise. Leaving aside Spurs' recent good form, the opponents had lost all but one of their away fixtures and had made their worst start to a league campaign in more than half a century. The frustration felt by their manager was evident not only in his petulant refusal to shake Clive Allen's hand after the match but also in his assertion that van der Vaart's opener involved a handball that merited a second yellow card. Sour grapes indeed from the Frenchman.
Needless to say, Harry Redknapp viewed the game slightly differently:
"They had a lot of possession in the first half. It was difficult. They played three in midfield. So they were always going to hold the sway in terms of possession. We had the two (players) in there. But we got the goal before half-time ... We got better and stronger and we took over. We deserved the win in the second half, I thought we were excellent.
One of the two outnumbered Spurs players in the midfield was Scott Parker and it would not be much of an exaggeration to describe his contribution as magnificent. Only two individuals - Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo - have won the Football Writers' Footballer of the Year award in consecutive seasons but, based on his performances in a Spurs shirt to date, Parker could be on his way to making that a trio. Before he signed for the club, there was a school of thought that he looked accomplished by virtue of being the stand-out in a poor West Ham side. As it turns out, with better players now around him, Parker is, if anything, surpassing the expectations that the Spurs management team would have had for him. (This phenomenon can, incidentally, cut the other way, as a Mr. Charles Adam demonstrated recently at White Hart Lane.)
Given Parker's towering performance, there was perhaps an element of romanticism in Kyle Walker being widely nominated as the man of the match. Watched by Fabio Capello, the young full-back had a fine game, scored a cracking winner and now finds himself called up to the England squad. The modest and level-headed Walker has admitted that "I still need to learn", but he has surely cemented his place as Spurs' first choice right-back. In fact - assuming form and fitness - it is now presumably a fairly straightforward job for Harry Redknapp to name the bulk of his best starting eleven. Friedel is the clear owner of the goalkeeper's jersey. The two full-backs pick themselves, with King and Gallas probably the optimum pairing in the centre of the defence. Adebayor is, on current form at least, the most potent striker, while Modric, Bale and Parker excel in midfield.
That, broadly speaking, would leave four players - Sandro, van der Vaart, Lennon and Defoe - competing for two places. Although he scored on Sunday, van der Vaart did himself no favours by being deficient in his defensive duties, leading up to Ramsey's equalizer. The team looked better balanced after he was replaced by Sandro on the hour. Van der Vaart has subsequently complained about the role he was given in the game but it may increasingly become the case that he will be grateful to be given any role at all. That must be doubly true for a player like Huddlestone, who would now appear to have two outstanding holding midfielders ahead of him in the pecking order. Harry Redknapp will no doubt have his work cut out keeping all of his players happy as the season wears on.
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