The Progression of Harry Redknapp's Tottenham
There's little point in drafting up a 10,000 word War and Peace blog on Harry's tenure thus far and how best we progress into next season. I say no point because I have the Bill Murrays since the season ended, what with a distinct lack of newsworthy commentary (other than our shared meltdown of the Modric media circus) it's ground-hog day every day if every day is spent looking back at how it all ended.
Not a lot to chit chatter about until the window opens and the universe sucks itself into oblivion whilst we all watch on in agonising slow mo.
In the previous end of season articles (all linked below) I more or less stated what we all know has to be done.
Keep the spine of the side together.
Sign a forward(s).
Patch up other areas and let the deadwood go.
Hardly rocket science. More on the transfer window and the theoretical blueprint for success in the next article.
So what of Harry and his (our) team?
There will always be fragmented opinions on the 'miracle' Harry performed when he arrived. Yes, we were in a mess, but he only proved that back to basics man management was enough to get the players out of their disillusioned state and work as a unit. He stuck men in their rightful positions and got the best out of them. No complexities with the chalkboard. No language barrier. Plenty of mayo and Ketchup. We played for each other, in support for each other and with pride.
Sure, it wasn't the Houdini act Harry wants us to believe it was. But credit to him. You can hardly be critical. From the depths to the heavens. The desire to get into the CL and the manner we fought for it was like nothing we've seen at the Lane for years and years.
Okay, so it's never perfect. When is it? Much like it isn't at any club. Sure, we have a right to want more and shouldn't anchor ourselves just because it wasn't too long ago that we struggled with upwards direction. Ambition - it's imperative in the stands and in the mind sets of the players. Perhaps, the job of the manager is made easier if he was to manage expectations without the ambiguity and bloated contradictions.
Never them, always us. That's how it should be.
We'll always have our team under the microscope. We (the fans) always believe we know best and we also know it better than someone who has just a little more hands on experience at it. Get on twitter to see the evidence.
There's always been an element of circumstance and luck (Gareth Bale, almost loaned out/sold on). But on the flip side, as an example, he worked wonders with BAE. When he returned from injury to left-back, the new-born Bale discovered a brave new world on the left flank. The Rafa signing perhaps highlighting the erratic opportunistic nature of the transfer window and the knock-on effect which was positive and negative with hindsight. Perhaps reactive management isn't the best template to work from, but it's got us stable for the moment.
We still lack that bullying nature, that killer instinct and that fabled cutting edge. We didn't do too badly considering our handicap, but not doing too badly amounts to 5th and not 4th or higher.
We did attack Europe, defending with naivety at times, but that was more down to the fragile mentality of our players who had to grow and mature very quickly. Which we did. Individual lapses of concentration proved costly. But the dismantlement of Inter at home and the patient counter-attacking in the San Siro against Milan, a joy. We finished top of a supposed difficult group and did so scoring goals for fun.
Back in the league, we ended another couple of hoodoos.
We still find ourselves questioning formation and tactics. The van der Vaart conundrum and Redknapp's favouritism to what he thinks is best, the reason behind the lack of cohesiveness that damaged our points total. Far too many games at home drawn. A fine line between 4th and anything below it.
Last season we were underneath the bed sheets with lady luck. This season, we were alone, eyes shut and hands free dreaming about her. You make your own luck and we were far too often apologetic in our body language, never seductive and playful.
The over elaborated expansive play paradoxical at times with the one dimensional hoof.
The disappointment exists because we know we lost out on fourth when others were not exactly a millions light years ahead of us. They simply grinded out more results.
But much like the CL was a journey of self-discovery, the experience of handling both Europe's elite competition and the bread and butter of the league will serve us well as yet another building block of our progression.
The team has to unite once more. All the ingredients are there. Just need to spice it up with some seasoning and not look to over-cook it.
I'm beginning to think perhaps Harry's ego has been left a little bruised. He refuses to accept responsibility publicly, hiding behind sound-bites proclaiming our 'best season ever'. Telling us we haven't had it so good. It's how he works the PR. He's a self-promoter, always has been. He's at a big club which means he has to live up to the expectations he has actually carved out for us by bringing stability and performing at a higher standard - one that equates to the players we possess and potential.
He's mis-managed that a little. Too many sound-bites clogging things up. Too much on the defensive.
I personally think no matter when he leaves, if the club is left in a position not too dissimilar to the 2010 season (or the one that's just ended) it will be deemed a success. In terms of there being a foundation for someone else to hit the ground running. Spurs can not afford the overhaul ilk of transition we became accustomed to through-out the 90's and the early parts of the last decade. Although we were never falling down from a higher step, just constantly tripping over the first one.
Have we ever had it so good?
Truth is, we haven't. Well, we have, but not for a long time and only in terms of being able to look ahead and agree we can challenge for a place in the CL. Hopefully winning a cup isn't completely dismissed as an objective as it was this past season.
We are fragile (the fans), having had a taste of the top tier anything less feels like its a relegation of stature. It's emotional, slowly transcending from pretenders to contenders. We're in a state of positive flux, as are the teams around us (some arguably touching on the negative but hardly in crisis). Our perception of what is progression and what is stagnation is dependent on you and thus varies from one fan to the next.
So what are we contending? Depends on how Harry spurs us into the summer and the start of the 2012 season with support from chairman.
We are in good health. We need to tighten up and we need to rediscover that hunger. There is no need to look for inspiration because it's there already.
The top four.
Don't bother knocking, just kick the door down.
'Seasons End' articles: