Birmingham, United Kingdom – Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp has insisted his team have not blown their hopes of third place and automatic qualification for the Champions League despite only drawing with Aston Villa.
Ten-man Spurs spurned the chance leapfrog Arsenal into third spot in the Premier League as they were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw against a Villa side who all but guaranteed their own top flight survival on Sunday.
Arsenal's draw with Norwich on Saturday had left Spurs' destiny in their own hands, but they remain a point adrift of their North London rivals in fourth place, which ought to see them enter the Champions League at the play-off round, going into this coming Sunday's final round of Premier League fixtures.
Fifth-placed Newcastle are still just a point behind, while Chelsea could yet snatch the final spot for Europe's elite competition from whoever finishes fourth should they beat Bayern Munich in this season's final.
An intriguing finale certainly awaits, with Redknapp needing Roy Hodgson and his West Brom team to do him and Spurs a favour by taking points off Arsenal in what is his final game before he takes up the England post for which his Tottenham counterpart had long been favourite.
That Martin Jol, the former Spurs manager, brings his Fulham team to White Hart Lane adds another dimension to proceedings.
“I think when you're down to 10 men and 1-0 down it's a point gained but on the balance of the play it's two points lost,” said Redknapp, who insisted it was a scenario he would have settled for come the start of the weekend.
“If we can win next week, Arsenal could well draw, it wouldn't surprise you. Arsenal have suddenly gone off the boil a little bit.
“It's all to play for. It will be exciting.
“I won't be ringing Roy (about Arsenal), I've already rung him (about England). Fulham is a tough game for us, Martin Jol won't be coming back to Tottenham wanting to help us.
“It's all to play for still – there are so many permutations: it could be Chelsea, us, Arsenal, Newcastle. It will be an interesting last day.”
Ciaran Clark gave the hosts the lead at Villa Park via a deflected first-half opener and their cause was bolstered when Spurs were reduced to 10 men when Danny Rose was sent off for a dangerous challenge on Alan Hutton.
Although Tottenham responded via Emmanuel Adebayor's penalty, they were unable to force a winner.
Redknapp had no complaints regarding the dismissal of Rose.
“It didn't look a great tackle. He's not a nasty player, it's not in his nature, it was a bit out of character.”
Villa, meanwhile, are three points clear of 18th-placed Bolton and have a goal difference advantage of 17 over the Trotters, all but assuring them of their top-flight status.
Whether it is sufficient to save manager Alex McLeish remains to be seen, however, as home supporters greeted the final whistle with fresh calls for the Scot to be sacked.
He remained defiant however, saying: “There has not been any indication an urgent meeting is needed.
“I guess Randy Lerner (Villa's American owner) will be pretty pleased with this outcome. He has been very supportive in his texts over the last few days which indicates great support.
“You never know in the game, but I would expect to be here next season and I hope to win over the dissenting Villa fans. We have to get a consistently winning team on the pitch.” – Sapa-AFP