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Harry's programme notes

Posted on 26 February 2009  - 12:00

As part of our build-up to home matches we publish Harry Redknapp's exclusive column from our official matchday programme.

Harry's programme notes

As part of our build-up to home matches we publish Harry Redknapp's exclusive column from our official matchday programme.

You can buy individual copies of the programme online by CLICKING HERE...

HARRY'S NOTES v SHAKHTAR DONETSK, UEFA CUP, FEBRUARY 26

Monday's win against Hull City was a massive result.

It puts us in a much better position in the league table and pulls those teams around the 30-point mark, who looked to be getting away from us, back into the thick of things.

Hull made it difficult for us in the first half - they got in our faces, worked their socks off and were always a big threat from set plays. In the second half though we came out and upped the pace. We got the ball down, passed it well and created some terrific chances. I felt we were good value for the three points in the end.

I was also pleased with the way we performed against Arsenal last time out at White Hart Lane. All our display lacked on the day was a goal that would have given us the win.

Arsenal played with 10 men for 60 minutes but even when it was 11 v 11 I felt we were the better team.

It is never easy against 10 men when the match is goalless. Had we been one up they would have been forced to come out and look to open up the game but, at 0-0, they were able to put bodies behind the ball.

We pushed forward in greater numbers in the final 15 minutes, which was when Arsenal began to pose a real threat with their ability on the counter attack. They are unbeaten in 12 league games and you could see why. Against 10 men you expect to win but I still took away a lot of positives.

Tonight we welcome Shakhtar Donetsk to White Hart Lane for the second leg of our UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie.

Our fixture schedule at this point leaves us in the middle of a run of five games in 12 days. It is a crazy schedule when you consider we have a cup final in less than 72 hours from now.

It could be something of a juggling act when you consider who is eligible for each competition. It is important that we keep everyone fit, sharp and select the teams that are capable of winning the games for us.

Everyone wants to be in Europe and we have given it our all in every round. We want to win every game and remain in each competition. The Premier League is all-consuming for us at the moment, but we are not about to pack away our passports for the rest of the campaign without a fight.

Harry's notes

We have got some fantastic prospects coming through at Academy level - they are top of their league and into the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup against Arsenal. If they are good enough they can stand on their own two feet and play at any level. Just look at Everton, they have got several kids in their team and are performing well.

I have always believed in playing youngsters if they are good enough and this has been a theme throughout my managerial career - there are a number of current top internationals performing regularly in the Champions League who I handed debuts to at the beginning of their careers. Dean Parrett is only 17 but he made his First Team debut last Thursday and I was really pleased with him, he didn't look out of place at all. If other youngsters can come in and equip themselves just as well it will be a great experience for them.

We know we face a tough task in overturning a two-goal deficit from the first leg last week. I was pleased with our performance in the first 80 minutes. We defended well and looked comfortable. I thought we may have even nicked a goal on the break but instead we were punished from a free-kick.

Shakhtar are a seasoned Champions League outfit. They possess great attacking full-backs as well as some fantastic Brazilian players in the midfield. In Mircea Lucescu they have a terrific coach who helped them overcome Barcelona at the Nou Camp earlier on this season as well as leading against them at home going into the closing stages before conceding twice late on.

With three fixtures scheduled, this week was always going to be a tough one. We have made a great start to it with victory on Monday and with home advantage in front of our terrific supporters we will be looking to ensure we head to Wembley on Sunday on the back of another positive result this evening.

Enjoy the game.