HARRY Redknapp inadvertently offered the most telling verdict on Sunderland’s top-six aspirations on Saturday when he virtually wrote off the Black Cats’ hopes of reclaiming the ground lost over the last few weeks.
Questioned about the battle at the top of the table, he said; “It’s wide open in terms of Champions League qualification, but it will be hard for us to finish in the top four again this season because of the quality of the competition.
“Man City are above us and they are a formidable side, but I think there are six teams in it, because I include Liverpool in there with us.”
No mention of Sunderland then.
But if Redknapp slighted Steve Bruce’s side, it was done unintentionally.
He was happy to admit Saturday’s fixture at the Stadium of Light was one he feared, while some may remember that, before a ball was kicked this season, he reckoned the Black Cats were the team most likely to break into the top eight in the current campaign.
“It’s not an easy place to come to, the Stadium of Light, and my record here hasn’t been great,” he said.
“So it was a concern coming up to the North East – Sunderland are a very good side and then, of course, they got the early goal.”
Spurs have not earned a reputation as comeback kings for nothing though and went on to record their third win in a row – and first on Wearside in a decade – to power their way back into the top four.
“I’m pleased with that,” said the Spurs boss.
“To go 1-0 down again in a game and to come back again, it was great.
“I was disappointed with their opening goal because William Gallas was off the pitch changing his boots because he was in pain.
“After the opening goal, though, the game settled down, neither side really created much and that made me think there was definitely something in it for us.
“After Sunderland conceded going in at half-time, I felt we would win.
“We get the goal just before half-time and then a ball drops to Niko Kranjcar on the edge of the box in the second half and all those hours he spends on the training ground practising that sort of situation pays off.
“It’s great because we’ve had three games – Blackburn away, Bolton Wanderers home, Sunderland away – and we’ve won the lot of them.
“They are difficult games, especially the away ones, and to take six points from those two games is fantastic for us.
“We’ve come from behind so many times in the league this season and that’s pleasing – pleasing that we have that capacity.
“But I would far rather we didn’t go behind in the first place!”
Now the Londoners can turn their attentions to tomorrow’s intriguing Champions League trip to AC Milan.