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Redknapp gestures at Irish fans

The next couple of months will be crucial in the colourful career of the Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp. The Christmas fixtures will indicate whether his team can be genuine title challengers or fall away to join the pack of also-rans chasing the fourth Champions League place.

In January he is up in court facing charges of cheating the public revenue. He strenuously denies the allegation and will offer a robust defence, but it must be an unhelpful distraction from football.

The combination of pressures might have caused Redknapp some frustration at the Europa League tie against Shamrock Rovers, where Redknapp was accused of making an obscene gesture at Irish fans who were chanting rather unkindly about Redknapp’s legal problems. The manager was already frustrated at Tottenham’s exit from the competition. The team won 4-0 but results elsewhere meant they were eliminated.

"I didn't make any obscene gesture," he insisted after the match. "I've spent enough time in Ireland over the years to know what fantastic people live here – there's nowhere nicer in the world." He did stop short of saying that some of his best friends were Irishmen.

A recent health scare saw Redknapp take some time off for a minor heart operation, and Tottenham have suffered a stutter in league form since his return, with a contentious defeat at Stoke.

It is believed Redknapp still nurses ambitions of succeeding Fabio Capello as England manager. The next few months, on and off the pitch, could decide where his career is destined.

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