LONDON, February 28 – Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp is relishing the prospect of wrecking Manchester United's bid to land an unprecedented five trophies in one season in Sunday's League Cup final.
United have already won the FIFA Club World Cup and have moved well clear at the top of the Premier League after a dazzling run of form since Christmas.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are also well placed to make progress to the latter stages of the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League, leaving them tantalisingly poised to become the first team in English league history to complete a clean sweep of trophies at home and abroad.
Such a formidable record would deter most managers but Redknapp is thrilled that his Spurs side must overcome a team which, by common consent, is the strongest Ferguson has yet assembled at Old Trafford if they wish to defend the League Cup successfully at Wembley.
United had to come from behind in their two-legged semi-final against Derby County, but Redknapp saw little to gain in being potentially pitted against Championship opponents in a showpiece final.
"You have to look forward to playing Manchester United," Redknapp said. "When people asked when Derby won the first leg of their semi-final if it would be great if they could pull it off, I said no way.
"No disrespect but I really wanted to play United in the final. It’s a way for you to test yourself against the best. They are the best team in Europe, and they were tremendous against Inter Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday.
"We’ve had some good games against the big teams this season. At home with United we drew, with a good performance, so we’ve got players who can play against anyone."
"Hopefully, playing on a big stage on Sunday will bring best out of them and we’ll get the bit of luck that you always need against the best teams."
Tottenham may be desperate to retain the trophy they claimed in such style last season, when they defeated Chelsea 2-1, but Redknapp has already warned his side that a repeat of their post-Wembley form last season, which saw them win just three matches under the stewardship of Juande Ramos, will not be tolerated.
Spurs can ill afford such a sequence this season as they struggle to keep clear of the relegation battle, but Redknapp believes the memories of last year will be enough to ensure a strong finish, regardless of the result against United.
"Our record after the last time we played in the final was incredible and we can’t afford to let that happen again," Redknapp added.
"Whatever the result on Sunday, we’ve got games against Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Chelsea and Aston Villa in quick succession and they’re very important."
"But hopefully we’ll cope – the form recently has been quite good. It’s been difficult to enjoy the week as having so many games we haven’t been able to relax.
"I was going to take them to Southend to walk them up the pier and have a bowl of jellied eels and ice cream, but we just haven’t had the time."