Hutton: Spurs still in title race despite ‘disappointing’ United draw

ALAN Hutton maintains that Tottenham are still in the title race, despite their failure to close the gap on Manchester United at White Hart Lane yesterday.

Harry Redknapp stated before the game that Spurs needed to beat the leaders to stay in contention, but saw his side rebuffed by a resilient United outfit, who played the final 20 minutes with 10 men after Rafael Da Silva’s dismissal.

Hutton concedes that the Lilywhites missed a big opportunity in the battle for the Premier League crown on Sunday, but the Scottish full-back believes that it is too early to wave the white flag.

“We really wanted the three points but picking up a point against one of the best teams in the league, you can’t really complain about that,” he said.

“Of course we’re still in the title race, we’re not too far out of touch. We just need to put a run together and then see what happens. All of the other teams are dropping points as well so we’re still there.

“I guess you have to be happy with a point but, with them going down to 10 men and us pushing forward, we obviously wanted to win so we’re slightly disappointed as well.

“I think that’s a sign of how far we’ve come. We’ve done really well recently and we don’t really fear any team so to get a draw at home is slightly disappointing, but we’ll still take the point.

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“Not too many sides stop United scoring, so that’s probably another plus point that we can take out of it, so we’re doing well.”

The popular view across the country is that United are weaker this season than they have been for many years, and are currently top of the league by default, because of the inconsistency of their rivals.

Hutton disagrees, but he admits that Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are unlikely to maintain their unbeaten record in the league to the end of the campaign.

“That’s always the sign of champions, when they’re not playing at their best and they’re still picking up points and winning games. They’ve not been beaten so you could argue that they’re doing really well at the moment,” he said.

“I think throughout the years they’ve always been well organised and with that talent that can win games, and now I don’t see them being any different. They’re the same - they’re very organised with that little bit extra, that little bit of talent that can win a game.

“They’re definitely up there with the best sides we’ve played this season. We’ve played a lot of good teams. Chelsea were hard to play against when they came here, but they’re definitely up there, they’re a top quality side.”

“At the moment they’re probably the favourites for the title, they kind of stand out. They’ve not been beaten, so you’d have to put your money on them at the moment.

“But it’s going to be tough for them to stay unbeaten all season. There’s going to be some massive games coming up for them so it’s going to be a hard thing to do.”

While Spurs still see themselves as title contenders, they are also aware that the race for the top four is hotting up.

Redknapp’s side find themselves in fifth place today, and Ferguson stated over the weekend that he cannot see both Tottenham and Manchester City qualifying for the Champions League.

“I suppose that’s his opinion,” said Hutton. “You never know, the league’s so strong this year and all teams are taking points off even the top teams, so we’re just going to have to wait and find out.

“In the last couple of weeks it’s been Chelsea who have been outside the top four, not us. There’s so many strong teams, even below us. You only have to look at the likes of Blackpool, who are flying high and doing really well. They’ve taken points off a lot of big teams so it’s going to be really interesting.

“Of course we can still finish in the top four, I don’t see why not. We don’t fear anyone, not matter where we go or who we play.”