The progression regression of Harry Redknapp's Tottenham - Part II
Momentum and Mental Strength...dressing room lost?
Our form, aside from the opening two games of the season, was sensational. Here was a Spurs side winning consistently home and away and if we came unstuck (Stoke away) we bounced back. It's all very muddled currently. It’s a combination of ineptness and a devastating disappearance of belief.
The court case will have distracted everyone at the club. It would have taken a lot out of the manager and regardless of what the players have said in the past, its birthed uncertainty. Our form began to display signs of degradation around the same time. We kept winning games but the victories were not always convincing, although it’s always good to claim a win when you’re not playing well because that’s the sign of champions. Enter another variable. The media. Everyone was appreciative of Spurs. The pundits, other managers and even opposing fans. It’s how it works. Much like Harry Redknapp, everyone is reactive to what is happening at the time, so naturally everyone rated Spurs and talked us up.
I have no idea what Harry is like in the dressing room and whether enough was done to keep us grounded. Equally so, not sure Parker is one for the rousing speeches at Spurs. Easier done at a club like West Ham where he was infinitely better than the quality of players surrounding him. We have no Roy Keane type figure. King is a leader by virtue of his football (and his football has not been great this season). Did we start to believe in the hype? If so, surely the experienced players in our squad took responsibility? From the looks of it they either they haven’t or it was beyond their influence.
The City game destroyed us. An inch away from winning it and in the blink of an eye we lost it. There’s no doubt there is a lot to be said for experience (take a look at United and Ferguson). But we reverted back to the fragile Spurs of old when as opposed to the past when we didn’t have the players to back it up, we do this time and yet somehow we’ve still managed to p*ss it all away.
To compound things further, Harry’s tactics started to have a clear detrimental effect - as witnessed at the Emirates. Our first major run of form that was underwhelming saw us play okay in some of the games, but we were powder-puff up front and lethargic at the back. We lacked that much needed leadership at the first sign of trouble. There was no team reaction. With every game we waited in anticipation of there being a battle cry, a want and desire to reclaim some pride. But it hasn’t been forthcoming. The semi-final was the concluding cluster of catastrophe which has summed up the second part of the season with the QPR game an encore of hurt.
D Wolves 1-1 - Dropped points
L Man City 3-2 - Toe to toe, could have been 3-2 to us, wasn't, footballing Gods say 'no'
W Wigan 3-1 - A response
D Liverpool 0-0 - A stutter
L Arsenal 5-2 - A capitulation aided by naivety and a distinct lack of belief
L Man Utd 3-1 - Mugged by a patient experienced side that knew just how to pick us off on the break
L Everton 1-0 - Woeful first half followed by a clueless second which entailed just 'attacking' them with no game plan
D Stoke 1-1 - Dropped points
D Chelsea 0-0 - Congested the midfield then took a stranglehold of the game. Should have won. Since then we've gone to pieces, they've got two Cup finals
W Swansea 3-1 - An anomaly that had us believing again
D Sunderland 0-0 - Could not break down a team that just sat back and defended
L Norwich 2-1 - Pathetic display
L QPR 1-0 - Equally gutless, shapeless
Add to it the Chelsea 5-1 for good (bad) measure.
The drop in form crept into our game prior to the City game but that match at the Eastlands felt like a boxer coming off the floor from a technical knock-out to then win the remaining rounds only to lose the fight thanks to a late flurry of punches giving them a split decision. It was demoralising. If that game robbed us of our belief and that the Gods were against us, we deserved nothing from a game that meant everything when it come to visiting Arsenal. Here we witnessed a strange selection and an absolute joke of a choke. Unlike anything we’ve seen recently in league meetings against them. It was an unequivocal surrender. Tactically shambolic. Players switched off too.
We were ‘okay’ against Utd. This found myself (and one or two of you) thinking we simply had to find a moment in a game to rejuvenate ourselves. Confidence comes from winning but if you feel hard done by and you come through it against the odds it can inspire that spirit and fight once more and with it will return momentum. Except, with each passing game it never happened. Aside from the Swansea win where Harry actually showed some astuteness and away to Chelsea in the league the rest have been near diabolical. Nothing has changed sufficiently enough to warrant that all it will take is such a moment.
We look like a side that has lost sight of the grand prize and have given up. There hasn’t been enough coaching or hands on management to aid with navigating the players through this. And the players, for them to react in this way by not reacting. It has the touch of the Ramos about it. Now that’s irony we could do without. Has the dressing room been lost? Yes. Lack of decisiveness and commitment from the manager whilst he flirted with all concerned regarding the England job has impacted team morale and has deflected Harry’s thoughts away from Spurs to the FA headquarters. He hasn’t given us his full intention, so why would his players do the same? A teacher that sits at the front of the classroom, playing guitar and singing a sonnet to himself is hardly to going to capture the attention of his students who are too busy throwing conkers out the window.
The players haven’t exactly covered themselves with glory either but as witnessed under Ramos, good players can turn to bad players because of lack discipline and focus and belief in the man in charge.
Whatever happens on the training pitch isn’t good enough either. Forget set pieces and corners. This has been a problem for years (next man in can fix it - ha!). The lack of planning and preparation for each opponent seems to be non-existent. i.e. Let them cope with us. If they cope with us, break them down. If we can’t break them down, make sure you mention it in the post-match interview that we couldn’t break them down.
Who knows what might have happened had John Terry not allegedly said what he said to Anton Ferdinand. He should have gone. Instead Fabio did and the rest (Harry for England) fell into and then out of place (Spurs).
Fact is Harry Redknapp has already left Spurs. He left the moment the England job became available. The issue is not that the job has distracted Harry, it's the fact that Harry has allowed it to. Not sure what has been said by Levy on this matter in-house, but it would have been good for the club and the manager to have released a statement immediately off the back of the rumours to draw a line under it. They didn't. Harry whored himself as Harry does. It's impacted us but it's not the only reason. It does however illustrate the undying loyalty he has to himself.
Regardless of the 'outside of Spurs distractions', they mask the real problem. Harry hasn’t got the edge and he bottled it. We’ve got a manager who can control his own destiny when it’s going well but is limp when adapting to the occasion of elevated expectation and fixing problems of his own creation. Players, teams...they need instructions. They simply can’t completely rely on running around and kicking the ball forwards. As good as we can be when it flows, we’re not exactly reinventing push and run.