Posted on Apr 07
Harry Redknapp insisted Tottenham Hotspur were still favourites to finish third in the Premier League despite a goalless draw away to Sunderland.
Saturday's Stadium of Light stalemate was enough to see Spurs leapfrog north London rivals Arsenal into the top three.
With six games left and on paper an easier-looking run-in, Redknapp was adamant he wouldn't swap places with the Gunners, who host title-chasers Manchester City on Sunday, or any of Spurs' other rivals for third place and the final automatic Champions League qualifying spot.
Redknapp, predicting the race will go right down to the last day of the season, said: "It's going to be close, and it's going to go down to the wire. We're in a great position, we're in the box seat. We've not got to play anyone in the top six in our remaining games. It's now down to who can have a good little run in the last half-a-dozen matches."
Still the favourite to land the vacant England job, Redknapp added: "I don't think the players get as uptight as I do or the punters do.
"We all badly want Champions League football, but as far as the players are concerned, they just enjoy going out to play.
"You can get too uptight about it. We've all seen teams get in a good position and then the pressure gets to them, but my lads are laid back and they'll see how it goes.
"We've got some tough games in the run-in against the likes of Bolton and QPR, who will be bang at it, but we've not got to play anyone in the top six."
Tottenham captain Scott Parker urged Spurs to focus on their own game, saying: "We can't worry about what Arsenal do. We have to worry about ourselves and concentrate on whatever we can do.
"We need to keep picking up points and see where that takes us. It's all to play for," the England midfielder added.
Meanwhile, with Tottenham in action again just 48 hours after their trip to the north-east when Norwich visit White Hart Lane on Monday, Redknapp said he would make changes against the Canaries.
"I went with the team that played against Swansea and Chelsea, but I'll make a few changes on Monday," he said.
"I couldn't start Aaron Lennon today (Saturday) because of hamstring problems, and you can't start William Gallas in back-to-back games so close together, so I'll freshen it up with one or two changes."
Redknapp was disappointed not to take all three points in a dour encounter of few clear-cut chances where his side dominated for long spells.
Tottenham have won just one of their last seven Premier League matches, and remain without an away victory in the league this year.
"It was a game we could have won, but you've got to take points wherever you can," Redknapp said.
"Sunderland sat back and made it hard for us to break them down. They sat in and didn't come out much. They almost played like an away team. In the first 15 minutes we had the ball for 14.
"Sunderland work hard and get after you. They put a shift in and they defended well. It's difficult when teams don't come out and there wasn't a lot of space to get into.
"We made one or two good chances but the only way I could see Sunderland scoring was from a free-kick or corner."
Black Cats manager Martin O'Neill made no apologies for a cautious approach that left his side on course for a top 10 finish.
"We gave Tottenham a tough afternoon, Harry would have known that right from the start," O'Neill said. "We had to be strong because we don't have the same resources as them at the moment."