Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp, who is first in line for the vacant manager's post at the head of the English national team, has written off local rival Chelsea's chances of winning the Champions League this season, despite holding a 1-0 lead over defending champions Barcelona, from the first leg of the two teams' semi-final tie.
The 65 year old Englishman admitted, in a report by the Guardian, he would like to see Chelsea reach the Champions League final, if only so they may be distracted from their league games. The Blues are fighting Spurs, Newcastle and Arsenal for the final two Champions League qualifying spots for next season. Redknapp earlier saw his men thumped 1-5 by the Blues in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
"I'll be rooting for Chelsea [against Barcelona]," said Redknapp, adding, "From our point of view, if we keep Chelsea in it and they've got a Champions League final to prepare for as well [as the Premier League and the FA Cup final], then they've got a lot on their plate, haven't they?"
There is another reason why Redknapp will not want his rivals to win the Champions League this season.
If the Blues do, against all odds, lift the trophy, they will automatically qualify for next season's tournament even if they finish outside the top four places in their league. This means the team in fourth position (presently Spurs) will not be given a ticket to the Champions League - there can only be a maximum of four teams from England. Therefore, Spurs will have to be content with a Europa League spot.
Nonetheless Redknapp feels this will never happen because, according to him, Chelsea, even if they knock out Barcelona, will have no chance against Real Madrid or Bayern Munich in the finals.
"I think they can beat Barcelona. They were fortunate the other night and defended with their lives but you wouldn't put it past Chelsea scoring in Barcelona. Barça are open to concede. If Chelsea get an away goal, then it's game on. But if they beat Barcelona, I still couldn't see them beating Real Madrid," he added.
"I think Real will beat Bayern but even if they [Chelsea] were to play Bayern, that would be a difficult game with Bayern being at home in Munich. So I still couldn't see them winning it. But I'd like them to be in it because they'd surely have to have one eye on the final," he added.
The more important thing for Redknapp and Spurs, apart from contemplating Chelsea's Champions League performance, will be to ensure the Blues, who are in the sixth position and just two points behind them and Newcastle, do not overtake them in the league.
Redknapp feels that if Spurs win four of five remaining matches - against Queen Park Rangers, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Aston Villa and Fulham - they will easily qualify for the Champions League next season.
However, it will be easier said than done. Spurs have been on a run of poor results in the recent past, including an embarrassing 1-2 loss, at home, to Norwich City.