Harry Redknapp believes it could be a "blessing" that Tottenham Hotspur's meeting with Everton was postponed from the season's opening day until tomorrow as his side was far weaker then. The match was not played because of the riots in London and Spurs now have the chance to draw level with Manchester United and within three points of the Premier League leaders, Manchester City.
Tottenham lost to United and City in their first two games of the season but then added Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor to their squad before the August transfer window closed. They have been defeated only once in the Premier League since.
Redknapp, who also hinted that he may still try to sign Gary Cahill from Bolton Wanderers despite Chelsea being in advanced talks, said: "I felt we were struggling at the start of year – the postponement might have been a blessing. It wasn't a good time as Luka [Modric] was going [or not]. Parker and Adebayor were not here and we didn't have a great pre-season in terms of being prepared. In the end, it might turn out to be a blessing."
Asked if victory over Everton would send a message to City and United, Redknapp said: "It's just another win but they know that we are there or thereabouts. Fergie [Sir Alex Ferguson] will look at it and say, 'they are going well, they are playing well'. He is not disrespectful to write us off completely. It is difficult for us to finish above them or Man City – you just never know do you?"
Despite losing those games in August to the two clubs now above them Redknapp did not feel Spurs had blown their hopes of competing. "No, not really," he said. "I just felt if we could get Scott Parker in and Adebayor on loan that would make a difference. There was a feeling around the club that it was a difficult period, that first couple of weeks.
"I never lost that belief in us. We played well at Old Trafford for 70 minutes. We played a very open formation. Niko Kranjcar played central midfield with Jake Livermore.
"We have improved obviously this year, we're stronger, we've got better each year and we're a bit better this year as well. We have to believe we can keep challenging. I'm not going to say, 'we're going to win the league' as it's going to be very difficult. Look at Manchester United's squad and City's squad, they have fantastic players and can make changes everywhere. Their forward players are incredible, so it's difficult."
William Gallas's torn calf and Ledley King's hamstring injury rule them out of the match against Everton. Parker is "very doubtful" because of a knee problem and Sandro is ruled out, also because of a calf tear, so Redknapp has limited options as to whom could partner Modric in central midfield. He said: "I've got Jake. And Steven Pienaar and Niko did well for me on Saturday – they played central and did well. I know it's Cheltenham [in the FA Cup], a different level."
Despite Bolton agreeing a fee with Chelsea, Cahill is yet to be offered the personal terms he wants. So, is there a possibility Redknapp might yet sign him? "It's a difficult one. I've tried to sign him so many times. He's a good player and he's not expensive, in all honesty," he said before suggesting that Blackburn Rovers's Chris Samba is also a target. "A good player, you can see QPR going for Samba now – if Tottenham wanted him we would have a big chance, no disrespect to QPR."
Redknapp also admires Marseille's striker Loïc Rémy and Newcastle United's prolific Demba Ba. The manager added of Ba: "He's done very well. Everyone should've taken him from West Ham [at the end of last season]. Newcastle did take him. I keep hearing conflicting stories about his buyout clause. Probably the only people who know are Newcastle and Ba."