TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (2) vs BLACKBURN ROVERS (0)
TOTTENHAM manager Harry Redknapp believes winger Gareth Bale will stay at the club after victory over Blackburn strengthened their bid to finish in the Premier League’s top four.
Bale, 22, has admitted he may leave the Londoners if they fail to secure Champions League football this season, after a run of just three wins in 14 games turned possible title contention into a desperate scramble to qualify for Europe’s elite club competition.
Yet on a weekend when Spurs’ closest rivals Newcastle lost away to Wigan, Redknapp revealed he expects the sought-after Bale to stay at White Hart Lane, despite being linked with Spanish giants Barcelona, after goals from Rafael van der Vaart and Kyle Walker suddenly made a top-four finish look more likely.
“He has got to worry about that [Champions League football] at the end of the season,” said Redknapp. “He has got a long contract at the club, I don’t think he will be going anywhere, he isn’t going to find too many better clubs than Tottenham.
“I don’t think he is a boy to go abroad at the moment. The first opportunity he gets he goes home to his family in Wales so I don’t think he is a boy who would be suited to go abroad at this stage of his career.
“I think this is a great club for him. You can’t be letting Gareth Bale go, he is the future of the club.”
With Blackburn battling against relegation to the Championship, the afternoon threatened to be a difficult one for the home side but Van der Vaart’s 22nd-minute, close-range opener settled any potential nerves and ensured they went on to dominate.
Though the final scoreline failed to reflect as much, Spurs controlled the game throughout as Blackburn played like a side whose future was as settled as the grass on which they played. Redknapp’s men had 19 shots in contrast to the solitary corner, and complete inability to shoot, of Steve Kean’s side.
When Rovers’ top scorer Yakubu was substituted with around 20 minutes remaining, a home win already looked secure but Kyle Walker, with an effort to earn parity with the world’s best, then masterfully curled a free-kick into the top right corner for Spurs’ winner just a few minutes later.
Modern managerial mantras may dictate that a one-goal lead is never safe but if ever such logic could be questioned it was here; Tottenham were in complete control and that was never under threat.