Scales: Spurs & Reds on track
Following a comfortable 2-0 win over Everton at White Hart Lane, an in-form and resurgent Tottenham are hot on the heels of the Manchester clubs at the top of the league. After just one loss in 18 games, the North Londoners are equal on points with Manchester United in second, with Manchester City, who are four points ahead, now in their sights. Former Spurs defender Scales believes that his old club has found the perfect formula to have them challenge for the title, as he told Sky Sports News Radio Breakfast.
"Absolutely. I didn't think they'd close the gap this soon in January, but the results over the Christmas period and the form that Spurs have been in has meant that they've closed the gap," he said. "They're now level with Manchester United and they've got a squad of players who are really starting to believe in themselves.
"They're out of the Europa League so they've got a focus on the title that they can look to capitalise on, and they've got the likes of (Jake) Livermore coming in and being outstanding yesterday in the centre of midfield alongside (Luka) Modric when (Scott) Parker was missing. (Michael) Dawson was back in alongside (Younes) Kaboul when you'd think (Ledley) King would be a huge loss, so the strength in depth is clearly there.
"They've coped brilliantly and have got the players there that can really win games but defensively they're doing very well as well.
"They've really got themselves in a great position and are now to be considered with the two Manchester clubs at the top."
Spurs were bottom when they swapped Juande Ramos for Harry Redknapp in late October 2008, but the Englishman has overseen a resurgence of epic proportions at the club, with Scales particularly impressed at the strength of the squad that Redknapp has assembled.
"It speaks volumes for Harry and everything he's done since he's gone there. We saw where the club were when he took over. He's brought players such as (Emmanuel) Adebayor in on loan - which City must be regretting to some degree - while getting the best out of Modric after keeping him out of Chelsea's clutches last summer was a masterstroke. And then there's (Gareth) Bale and (Aaron) Lennon, who are doing brilliantly.
"They look a well-balanced, exciting team and are playing the best football in the Premier League. For me, the biggest thing is that Spurs have to have a belief that they can win the title. The pressure is on City now, and the momentum is with Spurs."
The January 22 clash between City and Spurs now looks like being decisive in deciding the outcome of the Premier League trophy. But despite City's recent indifferent form, Scales feels Spurs must be cautious of a backlash.
"It is obviously going to be a key game in the run-in," he added. "City have lost four out of the last eight with a big defeat last night. But the manner of the defeats and the fact they're missing key players such as Yaya Toure, (Vincent) Kompany and David Silva, has meant that they've not quite looked like the same team. Spurs are going to go into that game very confident, but we know City are a formidable team at home so it will be difficult."
Scales joined Tottenham from Liverpool and the ex-Reds defender thinks that Dalglish has done an impressive job since his return to the club last January, pinpointing Wednesday night's 1-0 win against City taking them a step closer to ending their six-year trophy wait.
Scaldes added on Sky Sports News Radio: "It's crucial. It's not since 2006 at the Millenium Stadium that they've picked up a trophy. They've not even been to the new Wembley so it's a long time since they've won a trophy.
"It's the next stage of the development for the club. Kenny's come in and turned things around very well in a year, and the team have a belief.
"I still think they're three of four players short to become an exceptional side, so there's still a lot of work to do.
"Getting a trophy would be a massive boost for the club and for those players, and it would attract other players to realise that Liverpool really are making great strides."
With Liverpool striker Andy Carroll having his every move scrutinised following a £35 million move last January, Scales feels that although the England international has "bags of talent", the club may soon have to cut their losses for the benefit of the team.
"It's a difficult one with Andy Carroll. His form has been very poor and his fitness when he first came to the club wasn't right. Liverpool's style of play doesn't quite suit his game. It's almost like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole at the moment, but he's got to get his head and his fitness right, and a little bit more time is needed.
"Maybe there does come a point where you've got to think about the future of the club and the style that they're playing as that's of foremost importance as opposed to one player. I'm sure they're assessing that and looking at the long term future of Andy. He's got bags of talent but he's got to start to prove it."