"We're a good side. If we're bold in the summer, we can build a team again that can be right there again next year. The league is changing and a top-four position is very difficult to achieve."
Harry Redknapp's comments ahead of the last game of the season are interesting for a number of reasons. They contain just a hint of getting the excuses in before the possibility of not making the Champions League actually comes to pass. If that does happen - either as a result of Chelsea winning in Munich or by actually finishing outside the top four - it will certainly have considerable bearing on the players that will be willing to move to White Hart Lane in the summer. Not so long ago, Lille's Eden Hazard was describing Spurs as "a great English club" and one that could provide a home for his considerable talents. In the time it has taken for Spurs to go from dark horses for the title to possible Europa League contenders, the race for the talented young Belgian's signature appears to have turned into a contest between the two Manchester clubs, with Spurs warranting barely a mention.
At the same time, Harry has had to come out and deny that the club has agreed a £32 million fee with Barcelona for Gareth Bale. No doubt there will be a need to issue more of these sorts of denials in the coming weeks, but the timing of this one ahead of the crunch game with Fulham can only serve to further unsettle the player.
The atmosphere going into that game could possibly have been different if Harry were more inclined to follow the advice he was directing towards Daniel Levy. If he had been "bold" a week ago, guaranteed Champions League football might still be in Spurs' own hands. Despite being a man down, Spurs were bossing proceedings at Villa Park against poor opponents who have won only four times at home all season. The ten men on the field pushed hard, yet could not find the elusive second goal that would have given them all three points. With players tiring, with time running out, with Defoe and Saha on the bench, Harry's throw of the dice was to bring on Scott Parker in the 89th minute.
Whether or not that approach pays dividends only time - and other results - will tell. It was notable how, on the same day, Roberto Mancini changed the fortunes of his team by displaying some tactical acumen from the sidelines at St. James' Park - most probably securing the title in the process. In any event, all Spurs can do now is beat Fulham and hope that the other team from north London slip up at the Hawthorns. Or, alternatively, that Bayern Munich don't slip up on their home turf in a week's time. Failing to qualify for Champions League would not necessarily have been looked upon as a huge disappointment at the start of the season. Now it would be hard to see it as anything else.