Redknapp revels in nine goal romp at right end

LONDON - Harry Redknapp began his managerial career watching his Bournemouth side lose 9-0 in the snow.

On Sunday the trauma of that frosty day 27 years ago was swept aside as his sparkling Tottenham Hotspur team thrashed Wigan Athletic 9-1.

With Spurs racking up the second-biggest Premier League win after Manchester United's 9-0 thrashing of Ipswich Town at Old Trafford in 1995, Redknapp recalled his baptism of fire in December 1982.

"I've been on the wrong end of a nine but not the right end," he told reporters. "My first game with Bournemouth away to Lincoln we got beat 9-0. Nearly every game in the country was off that day and they were top of the league. The pitch was white and rock hard.

"They had rubber pimple studs on their boots but we were so poor we had long nylon studs and our players were falling over as they came out for a kick around and I thought, 'We're in trouble here'."

There were few signs of Wigan being in such dire straits after a fairly drab first half at White Hart Lane had seen the home side score once through a Peter Crouch header. But after the break the floodgates opened with Jermain Defoe's five-goal haul lighting up the stormy north London skies.

"We got after them from the first whistle in the second half," said Redknapp. "We scored some great goals. The finishing was fantastic... and (Wigan goalkeeper) Chris Kirkland made some good saves today." WORKED HARD

Defoe, who became only the fourth Tottenham player to score five goals in a match after Ted Harper, Alfie Stokes and Les Allen, had tested Kirkland in the first half when he forced the keeper to tip the ball onto the bar. It was just a taste of things to come.

"It's about time he got 20 goals in a season given the way he can finish. The last couple of days in training you could see it coming," added Redknapp. "Yesterday and the day before he looked so sharp."

England striker Defoe revealed he felt different before the match and had even changed his boots.

"I have worked hard in training and was looking forward to the game because I was away with England. I had a funny feeling. Adidas gave me a pair of green boots before the game and (coach) Clive Allen said, 'You can't wear those' so I wore pinkish silver ones instead."

The change seemed to work with Defoe on fire against a hapless Wigan defence as he became the third player to score five in a Premier League match after Alan Shearer and Andy Cole. His hat-trick in seven minutes was also the league's second fastest after Robbie Fowler's for Liverpool against Arsenal in 1994.

"He is an amazing finisher," added Redknapp. "He's sharp around the box. You give him half a chance and it's in the back of the net. He has been doing that since he was 14. We took him to West Ham and he was just a goalscoring machine."

Asked if Defoe was the best English striker in the game, Redknapp said: "Wayne Rooney is the complete all-round player in my opinion (but Defoe) is the best finisher. I'm sure he will go to the World Cup. He has got stronger. He did a lot of work in the off-season. He's not a little lightweight anymore."