How quickly things can change in football. Just 5 months ago Harry Redknapp was lapping up the applause as his Tottenham side thrashed Newcastle 5-0. A chorus of ‘We want you to stay’ was reverberating around White Hart Lane. This was in response to Redknapp being installed as the firm favourite to succeed the recently departed Fabio Capello as England manager. He was the nation’s choice for the job and nailed on favourite to take the hot seat. At this point, Harry had it all – sitting pretty in 3rd place with a significant lead over arch rivals Arsenal and he was a man in demand.
Fast forward 5 months and Redknapp has somehow managed to find himself axed from Spurs and having to watch Roy Hodgson doing the job he thought would be his.
There is split opinion among the Spurs faithful as to whether Levy has made the correct decision. I am firmly in the camp that this is the correct decision and we need a man who can take us forward, a man who is not all me, me, me and above all, a man who respects the club and its fans.
So where did it all go wrong for the manager who could seemingly do no wrong?
Redknapp’s End of Season Capitulation
Tottenham finished one point behind Arsenal. Shocking form after the Newcastle game cost us big time. Just 4 wins in the final 13 games of the season was astonishing. It is questionable whether Redknapp had his mind on the job, thinking that he was nailed on for the England position. While there were a run of tough games where we faced Arsenal and Everton away and Manchester United at home, the games that disappointed the most were the defeat at home to Norwich and the draw at home against Stoke – a game where we needed a last-minute equaliser from Van der Vaart.
Now we could look at the England job as a distraction but that would be failing to notice that Redknapp has previous. The season before, Tottenham were again looking good for a top 4 finish. Then came along the capitulation – this time finishing 6 points behind Arsenal with only 3 wins from the last 12. This run included poor performances and draws at home against West Ham, West Brom and Blackpool – with two of those 3 seasons finishing off the season relegated.
England job or not, Redknapp seems to have difficulty finishing a season strongly, instead rather limping to the finish line. This could be down to my next point…..
….or rather lack of it. Redknapp had his favourites. It seemed to be a case of first 11 or nothing. This lack of rotation has seen key players tire towards the end of the season and the season end on a whimper. The rotation policy was so appallingly bad that Harry ended up isolating a number of squad players that were perfectly capable of doing a job. Instead we saw players like Pienaar (who had a fantastic end to the season at Everton), Corluka and Pavlyuchenko leave the club. It got to the situation where the only right back we had was Walker –who ended up playing with a broken toe at the end of the season costing him his place in the England squad.
It has been well documented that Harry doesn’t do tactics. This is something that has been echoed by the players. Redknapp’s lack of tactical nous is astonishing and is clear in some of his decisions. I have gone into more detail on his tactical naivety in a previous post here.
The one decision that summed him up for me in the closing stages of the season was the game away to Villa. With the game poised at 1-1 and with Spurs getting well on top, and not sending on Defoe as an attacking option to win the game, he opted for Scot Parker to protect a point. Now that would not have been such a shocking decision – until you realise that a draw didn’t put us in any better position than a loss. We would still have been reliant on Arsenal dropping points in their final game. A win would have put 3rd place in our own hands. Every single Tottenham fan was screaming for Defoe to come on – it appears it was only Harry who couldn’t see it.
Flirtation with England
Harry wanted the England job. That was clear and he has even admitted so much. What is shocking is at the time he was saying how the players didn’t care about who the manager was. When he was struggling to get the contract he wanted after being neglected by England, he had a significant u-turn. All of a sudden players did care. They wanted him as the manager and the uncertainty of whether he would be around was unsettling. Make your mind up Harry…
If Redknapp had shown Levy and Tottenham the loyalty that they had shown him throughout his trial, he would have been rewarded with a lucrative contract. Instead he wouldn’t sign the 4 year contract on offer and hankered after the England job. Not being offered the England job put him in a difficult position when trying to negotiate a new contract.
Finally, it takes a brave man to cross Daniel Levy. This is a man that is ruthless. Harry was playing a brave game trying to negotiate a new contract through his chums in the press. Levy was probably expecting (as we all were) Redknapp to get the England job. When this didn’t happen he had a decision to make. I believe he has made the right one, but whoever the new man is he needs to be backed.
Levy can’t completely absolve himself from any blame for Tottenham failing to make the champions league. The two end of season collapses could have been avoided by strengthening in the January transfer windows. This didn’t happen for one reason or another. I would expect that he didn’t want to back Harry in the knowledge that he was likely to be off in the summer. He probably thought that a 10 point lead was probably enough to secure Champions League football. Oh how he was wrong….
I firmly believe the time is right for Redknapp to go. Exciting times are ahead with a new training complex in place and a new stadium on the horizon. It is time for a new manager to come in, someone who respects the club and its fans and someone who can take the club forward. Once the dust has settled and the pain of blowing a 10 point lead over Arsenal has subsided, I am sure I will be able to look back at the Redknapp era with fondness. He led us into the champions league for the first time and produced some of the best football I have seen in all my years that I have supported Spurs. However there will always be a lingering feeling of what could have been. We should have been in the Champions League 3 years running if it wasn’t for the end of season collapses.
Harry – you were brilliant at reminding us we’ve never had it as good but now maybe you will realise – neither had you!