Harry Redknapp is still confident Tottenham will be playing Champions League football next year despite the damaging 2-2 draw with West Brom.
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Redknapp’s men looked set to earn the win that would have taken them ahead of fourth-place Manchester City when Jermain Defoe scored his 100th Spurs goal with 25 minutes left to put the hosts 2-1 up at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
However, a superb lob from Baggies substitute Simon Cox meant that the Londoners had to settle for a point that seriously damages their hopes of dining at Europe’s top table for a second successive year.
City will move four points clear in the Premier League if they beat lowly Blackburn on Monday night and Redknapp has the headache of a tough run-in that includes matches against their Chelsea and Liverpool.
The Tottenham boss was nevertheless optimistic about his side’s chances.
"It’s going to be difficult but it’s still all to play for," said Redknapp, who admits he is struggling to come to terms with the increased expectations thrust upon him because of this year’s remarkable run in the competition.
"I find it hard that now everyone expects us to be in the Champions League," he added.
"Tottenham had never been in it before until this season and suddenly it is like ‘we have to be in the Champions League’.
"Manchester City have gone out and spent God knows what to get above us. Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea are there every year, Liverpool will be there next year. It’s difficult to get fourth. It has been a great season but it’s not over yet."
Victories over both Milan giants and a glamour quarter-final tie against Real Madrid have provided the White Hart Lane faithful with some memorable nights this year, but competing for both domestic and European honours is beginning to take its toll on the players.
They looked tired as they tried to summon the energy required to find the winning goal after Cox looped a brilliant 20-yard shot over Heurelho Gomes with nine minutes left.
Redknapp admits his side’s route to Europe last year was much easier.
"What was a big help to us last year was that we did not have the extra fixtures in Europe," he said.
"That helped us qualify for the Champions League last season but I think there’s still nothing between City and Tottenham at the top. We are only talking about a point’s difference.
"This is the closest we have ever got to Arsenal and Chelsea. I think we can compete with the top clubs every year. I think there is a championship in this club, not just a Champions League place.
"It will need a bit of investment but the nucleus is there."
Peter Odemwingie’s 13th goal of the season gave the Baggies the lead before Roman Pavlyuchenko equalised in the 27th minute with a well taken strike that flew in off Scott Carson’s far post.
Cox has struggled to make an impact since he signed from Swindon two years ago but Redknapp thinks the 23-year-old should savour his first Premier League goal.
"It was a world-class strike," Redknapp said.
"Before that, there was no panic. We even looked like we were going to score again.
Redknapp’s misery was furthered by an injury to Benoit Assou-Ekotto in the build-up to West Brom’s opener.
"I think Benoit tore his hamstring running back," added Redknapp, who revealed he did not know how long the left-back would be out for.
A delighted Roy Hodgson has now taken 13 points from his eight matches in charge to propel the West Midlanders to the brink of safety.
"It was a splendid result to come back from 2-1 down," Hodgson said.
"It’s given us what looks to be an important point given the way other results have gone.
"It has taken us to a psychological point at least, which is 40 [points]. A lot of people would say that is enough [to save us from relegation] but I think we might need a point or two more."