Premier League

Redknapp: My toughest test yet

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Mon, 26 Nov 2012 10:38:00

A look ahead to the midweek action in the German Bundesliga, with Freiburg up against Bayern Munich.

The final whistle on the 13th round of Bundesliga matches may have just sounded, yet the clubs are already preparing for the next matchday this midweek with much movement likely behind the top five.

Freiburg moved up to sixth in the table with a 3-0 win over Stuttgart and they host leaders Bayern Munich on Wednesday, aware that they must keep up their present form or risk dropping as many as six places.

"This just shows how the Bundesliga is," said Stuttgart coach Bruno Labbadia after his side's defeat in the Black Forest prevented them from moving into sixth spot, and left them instead in 12th.

"You just can't lower your guard for a second, and Freiburg took full advantage."

Only six points separate Freiburg in sixth from Nurnberg in 15th as nine clubs continue to jostle for position, and to know whether they could be challenging for places in Europe this season or fighting a long, hard battle against relegation.

The latter is looking increasingly the case for Hoffenheim after their defeat at home to Bayer Leverkusen and their coach Markus Babbel's job is on the line when they travel to Nurnberg in the last midweek fixture to kick off this Wednesday.

"I know how the business works," the former Stuttgart and Hertha Berlin coach said.

Behind Hoffenheim, Greuther Furth and Augsburg both have tricky away games as they search for only their second wins of the season.

Furth head to Hannover on Tuesday while Augsburg, who were only five minutes away from beating Borussia Monchengladbach, make the short trip to Stuttgart on Wednesday.

At the top of the table, Borussia Dortmund host Fortuna Dusseldorf, Schalke travel to Hamburg and Eintracht Frankfurt are involved in a local derby with Mainz, all on Tuesday night.

Elsewhere, Borussia Monchengladbach host Wolfsburg and Werder Bremen tackle Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday night.

Having only managed a total of 53 minutes in four substitute appearances for Stoke so far since his signing as a free agent back in September, Owen insists he has recovered from a hamstring injury.

He said: "I'm back in full training. The physios and the medical team were up at the stadium for Saturday's match. So I trained there.

"They made me run up every stairway at the ground. It was a hard old session."

Stoke boss Tony Pulis says Owen has an outside chance of being fit to face his former club Newcastle on Wednesday but he is more likely to return against West Brom on Saturday.

The former Tottenham boss has taken over a side rooted to the foot of the table, with just four points from 13 games and without a win all season.

He has saved Portsmouth from relegation and took a Tottenham side from bottom of the table to the Champions League the following season.

Be he said: "We mustn't kid ourselves, this is much tougher that those two jobs in my opinion, but I'm optimistic we can pull it off.

"I want to be successful here, really badly. I want to keep this team in the Premier League. If the players try as hard as I am going to try we'll be successful."

Redknapp confirmed a deal was being done to bring in long-time assistants Joe Jordan and Kevin Bond to assist him.

And he warned the players he would not tolerate a lack of effort.

"We've got to do better to give ourselves any chance of getting out of this mess," he said.

"I need 11 people with ability to put effort in. If they don't they're not going to play and I'll get 11 people who do. I've got no time for people who lose the ball and stand their with hands in the air."

On the team spirit, he added: "The lads I met yesterday were all upbeat.

"They've got to realise they are in this position because they haven't really performed to their capabilities and they've got to do better.

"The players have to take responsibility for performances, they've got to up their performance level and get us out of trouble."

Redknapp accepted there would be no "wholesale spending" in the transfer window after the club recruited extensively during the summer, but admitted they were very short up front.

Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson are both long-term injury victims and the new boss said: "We are not overloaded with strikers here. That's certainly an area we are short in."

On the possibility of bring in David Beckham, he said: "I got a lovely text from David the other night, just wishing me well here.

"To have him at any football club would be a great influence on the club, but we've not discussed anything."

Redknapp insisted there would be no personality clashes with Adel Taarabt, whom he sold while manager of Tottenham.

"He wasn't a player I wanted to sell," he said. "He couldn't get in the team at Tottenham.

"I always felt he had the ability to become a top player. I've got to get the best out of him."

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