The Prose and Convictions of Mr Harry Redknapp
by guest-blogger Tricky
There is still much debate about out manager, so much so that when looking into the ‘for and against’ arguments that rage on even today about our beloved / liked / tolerated manager I soon realised that this article might be a bit longer than anticipated.
Each one of these could start their own ’discussion’, but maybe they need to be considered as a ‘whole’ for once because everything would appear to be related – argument and counter, prosecution and defence.
And also because this is a debate that isn’t about to disappear any time soon (court case pending that is) it ended up being something akin to something more Shakespearian play, except there’s less eloquence, plot, intrigue or purpose and more football, and it’s about the same length. There’s also less men in tights and men playing women (with the exception of Sandra who will be played by Mr Darren Bent on this occasion).
So make yourself a cuppa / organise an impromptu ‘meeting’ / or simply just loaf like the rest of us for five minutes before starting this one (having another screen open and the ‘alt-tab’ function are worth remembering for those with PC’s who work in open plan offices) – don’t say I didn’t tell you!
Act 1 - Pro’s
Scene 1 ‘Is thou fit for purpose?’ – make no bones about it, since coming to White Hart Lane, he has made watching our team not only bearable but enjoyable at times, we play a decent passing game and Harry’s record since arrival isn’t too shabby in all competitions (inc replays) – P82 W44 D18 L20 with a win %age that currently puts him 3rd on the list of spurs all time managers. Results matter not just one or two games in isolation, but over the course of seasons and so far he’s got them, undeniably so.
But most importantly he stopped the rot (for those that weren’t aware, when he joined we had played 8 league games with only 2 points accumulated – something often understated).
Scene 2 ‘The merchant of players’ - He found a solution to the DM position, as wild and extravagant as it seemed at the time buying Wilson was perhaps the most influential deal he put together. And yes it was obvious, but then again other managers have failed to resolve ‘obvious problems’ before in the past.
So is he more astute in the market place? Well for me he certainly appears to be no worse than Mr Comolli. Other than Wilson we have added Kranjcar (at an absolute steal of a price), Defoe, Crouch, Bassong, Cudiccini, the twin Kyles, Gudjohnsen (who many questioned the need for him, right up until the point where we, err, needed him), and Kaboul (see comments for Gudjohnsen). Ok so he also bought back Robbie and Chimbonda – but maybe they were simply fit for purpose at the time, we were just lucky enough to not have to rely on them too much when it mattered. Just as importantly there’s not too many ‘Rasiaks’ or ‘Rebrov’ comparisons to be had, and he’s trimmed the squad in the process allowing us to save on operating costs leading up to the stadium redevelopment.
It also removed the need for the DOF role, which in turn (IMO) removed some of the ‘player power’ that seems to have had an undertone in recent years (especially in relation to footballers and agents speaking (in)directly to levy bypassing and undermining the manager), it also meant that the manager will now have a team that he has put together.
Scene 3 ‘Thou ist a true motivator, and inspiration amongst pretenders’ – Few can argue that since he arrived a number of players have improved, Modric is well and truly back on track, Lennon looks his old self again (but with a better end product). The Hudd I’ve always been biased towards his potential, but having been given the confidence of his manager he’s taken the mantle of '1st Choice' on well. Hell even Bentley is starting to look like he has re-paid some of the £15million that a lot (including me) had written off on his seemingly inevitable transfer.
And Super Pav has been nothing short of a revelation since ‘returning to the fold. Whether or not you like the way he has handled certain situations (see Act II below), or how much of it is down to him, the team as a whole have looked more talented and balanced than I have seen for a good few decades.
In particular the midfield of Lennon, Palacios, Huddlestone, Modric early on in the season was perhaps the most perfectly complimentary of attack, defence, pace, skill, passing and movement that I can recall since, well, actually I struggle to think of a combined four that I’ve seen that has been better in my 20-something years of following spurs.
Act II- Con’s
Scene 1 ‘Thou dost talketh too much, about so very little’ - well define ‘too much’, after all one of the criticisms of Ramos was that he didn’t talk to the press at all but sent out a forlorn looking Poyet who would have to justify the actions of his boss.
There is a general obligation by the club to send a representative to pre- and post-match interviews as there is much interest in the game and it is important to the club that these are conducted to gain interest. Harry (like or loathe) does represent a person of interest (be it for controversy or otherwise), right from the start in the manner of the appointment and the clubs respective position and even today as a manager of a club with aspirations, combined with our current lofty position there will no doubt be a lot of press coverage about both us as a club and how Harry as the manager will deal with that expectation and ambition.
Sure I cringe a lot of the time, and true the ‘2pf8g’ mantra did become a bit parody, but what would people rather – too much or not at all? As ’not at all’ probably means that the club was mid-table and our ability to influence anything of newsworthy note was of little appeal or consequence and I quite like the fact that our results have ‘consequence’ these days and for the right reason.
Scene 2 ‘Why doest thou write “tittle tattle” and such unworthy prose for the masses’ – There are two things wrong with having a column in the Sun for me; firstly his job is to manage the team, so what is he doing having a second job (even if he is more qualified to comment than most journo’s, I firmly believe that Managers should manage only whist gainfully employed) and secondly it also adds to the argument that everything he says sounds like it is a gift wrapped sound bite, because it does.
[I am for the sake of not being sidetracked ignoring that it’s also ‘the Sun’, owned by the ‘evil Murdoch empire’ aka “The Top 4’ loving, self agrandisation, ‘sign up now to Sky’ Empire”]
Scene 3 ‘It is unbecoming in your position, good sir, to critique those whom have been “shite” in public’ – Enter stage left Mrs Redknapp. So Sandra could have scored when Bent missed a sitter, and Harry came out and said as much, it was no less and certainly no more than any of us were thinking. Well boo hoo to Bent if he can’t take some criticism, I want players who can see they were poor and work hard to rectify it, not to go spouting unrequited love for another manager / club on twitter.
And the much maligned handling of Pav? The problem with closed doors is that they are exactly that, the only people who saw Pav in training are the team and the staff for the majority of the time, and in this situation we have no Russian twitter to follow to fill us in, only interpretations and agents talking to press. So maybe it was as much to do with Pav having to know that he was going nowhere that bucked him up to make the best of what appeared to be a poor situation. Then again, maybe it was however wrong of Harry to even respond to questions about Pav’s situation at the club.
Thing is, I ‘heart’ Pav, for the player he is, and almost shed a tear when Pav ‘heart’-ed the fans after the Fulham game, but is his agent is as culpable under the circumstances in running to the press every five minute forcing Harry to comment in Jan?
So the difference between the two situations for me is the outcome, as the manager was consistent in what he said ‘train hard and play well when you get the chance’, maybe the players’ attitudes have as much to answer for as the manager at times.
Scene 4 ‘Thou hast the tactical wariness of a poached halibut, good fellow’ – It can be said that the only difference between a good decision and a bad one is often ‘time’. So if he does / doesn’t make a change that does / doesn’t influence the outcome then he is tactically astute / naive accordingly. The difference is that we as fans and the media have the benefit of adding ‘hindsight’ into the mix and therefore you (the fan) have the benefit of an argument either way, managers don’t have such a luxury, they have to make’ judgements’.
Scene 5 ‘Why didst thy forsake a fellow to the outreaches of the seaside colony, leaving us bereft of options?’– now let’s be honest here, I like O’hara, I think he still has a bright future ahead of him, but in order to achieve that he needed to play 1st team games regularly in order to improve. Was he going to get ahead of Hudd and Wilson? Well no, you could even argue he wasn’t at the time ahead of Jenas in the pecking order, add to that we didn’t need the same squad size as we haven’t been involved in European football this season. So what do you do? Get him somewhere to get games for a season and bring him back when you need him the following season when European football is back on the table? Plus in Modric and Krancjar you have two players who have the ability to play central mid. So all in all it made sense to me to have loaned him out and it still does to be honest.
Scene 6 ‘I demand my pounds, messers three’ – And so we have the pending court cases for Redknapp, Storrie and Mandaric, where of course there is ‘no smoke without fire’, isn’t there? It is difficult one to argue against because as much as we’d like to think that the law of our great nation is ‘innocent until proven guilty’, the fact is that the media have replaced this requirement with its own ‘opinions’ on the matter. It’s also difficult to defend because on the face of it someone must be guilty even if of incompetence between the three of them.
And even if cleared, it’s the one thing that will never go away, Harry started his management career in an era when the ‘day of the brown envelope’ probably (or perhaps ‘possibly’ for legal reasons) did exist. So regardless of the outcome of the result of the court case it will forever follow him around and consequently there are those that will (perhaps illogically considering the nature of our own Dear Mr Levy) suggest that current transfers and other aspects of his management (other than winning) are related to pure financial gain.
Scene 7 ‘My kingdom for a seat’– So Harry doesn’t stand up sometime. Is this not simply a case of reading too much ‘context’ into situations, have we started believing what we read, in the press and also indeed on blogs, as to what his reaction to anything in particular means? With analysing everything to the Nth degree there’s always a danger of bias by any one person (I’m aware of the fact that it also includes me). Not sure here on this particular facet, maybe one of his lackies (see below) is there to do that for him.
Scene 8 ‘You sir, surround yourself with nomads and vagabonds’ – ‘Jobs for the boys’? Well, err yes it would appear so, but on the evidence so far they aren’t doing too shabby a job. OK we don’t have to like them, but if they can improve the players then that’s surely all they have to do. I, like many others, would rather have Lineker working with Defoe than Ferdinand, but then again as Defoe is already on 17 goals for the season in the league maybe I shouldn’t complain too much.
Scene 9 ‘Why dist thou appear in those ‘Wii’ adverts?’ – yeah, well, I can’t defend the un-defendable really can I?
Act 3 - Epilogue (much ado about nothing)
NB. This is the bit you can ignore and go straight to comment as it is only my opinion.
A fellow spurs acquaintance of mine refers to Harry as ‘limited’ and I would not disagree. He does have his limitations and, for me, is not the long term future for THFC, as he will not be around long term (5 - 10 years) to build up a squad. We already know this because Harry’s not getting any younger and he already has his retirement home on Sandbanks with the kids and grandchildren nearby, and his Wii of course. So if he passes it over to the next ‘caretaker’ with a more balanced squad and in better shape than when he arrived then that’s fine by me and thanks for the memories.
However, it should be recognised that Harry has been and continues to be ‘fit for purpose’, coming off the back of a period whereby stability was what was required by the club. He has more than adequately provided that basis for improvement. His record in both the league and Cups stacks up well since arriving, if anything he has got a bit lucky on a few occasions as consequently has perhaps over-performed. But as one of many adages goes ‘sometimes in football you don’t have to be a good manager, just a lucky one.
The problem he will have to face now is dealing with an elevated sense of ‘expectation’ of ‘us' the fans and financiers of THFC. Our team are currently 4th in the league and in the semi of the FA cup. Do I think we will win the cup and finish in our current position? Well this has already been well covered, and so I have to stick with my previous position, no I can see us getting to the final and losing and then finishing 5th or 6th, but would dearly love to be proven wrong.
So what if we do finish without any cup, but do get European football next season with a top 6 finish? Well, I for one would have taken that at the start of the season, and so the benefit of ‘time’ and ‘hindsight’ strikes again it would seem...