The progression regression of Harry Redknapp's Tottenham - Part IV
Our chairman famously said that he did not expect Champions League every season. The reasoning was that the competitiveness of the league would see teams share qualification. I can't believe for a second he'll be happy to miss out this year. Not just because of the importance of the money generated from gaining a top four place but also because we've had it in our hands and dropped it and appear disinterested to pick it up again. New stadium and retaining our best players along with attracting new players can sometimes be reliant on qualifying for the CL. But then we've only been in it the once and I'm sure if we miss out we'll still end up signing new heroes to appease the faithful. The risk is losing out if another monopoly is created but (IMO) that is looking unlikely. Chelsea and Arsenal will improve next season - but so will we. It's whether we have it in us to best the both of them that remains to be seen.
We can't be doing with more cheap and cheerful makeshift stop gaps. We need that sexy world class striker we've been lusting after for years and we need to be balls deep in it. We have to show the same strength again when it comes to clubs sniffing around our players. Regardless of whether Bale is wanted by X team or not, the tabloids will no doubt kick up a storm to populate their pages over the summer (although the Euro's might distract them a little bit and give us a moments peace).
Bale won't be sold. Can't see Levy allowing it to happen this summer. Luka on the other hand? Refer to what I wrote earlier.
Centre-back, right-winger, midfielder, striker (or two). There are plenty of incoming signings we need. Get it done early. Which means get the new manager in early. If this drags across the summer, kicking and screaming, it won't make comfortable viewing. Every window we say the same thing, and we get nothing until the very end and then we end up with something which always seems to feel like a stretch. This isn't about asking for the moon on a stick. We've seen the consequence of squad depth (lack of) this season and the cost of it.
I just want to clarify again. Yes, we've rotated. Yes, on paper we do look strong and arguably far stronger than most. But we are set up to play one way and one way only and the rotation of certain players is not always the strongest of option available to us but the only option. And when key players are either missing or not rested, it eats away at the team in a detrimental fashion that the manager has failed to get his head round and fix.
Our first eleven? Brilliant. Take one player out, we start to struggle a little. If your argument is the players coming in are good enough then it comes back to structure, instructions and the gaffer. If the gaffer and the chairman don't see eye to eye on transfer targets, it's never going to end well.
As important as CL qualification is to grow stronger for a title push, we should still be able to compete for other competitions instead of deciding they don't matter. Even as a supporter of Spurs, I've done just that this season. I now look at Athletic Bilbao with green-eyed envy.
Everything has been an afterthought this season in comparison to the league and yet we've still managed to shag that up. If you don't agree and we do have depth then why do we look like extras in The Walking Dead?
Our previous manager lost the dressing room. We had a strong squad of players but no team in the true sense of the word. No unity and belief. The players did not want to play for their manager. It had gone from stale to rotten. As for the present day? Shades of Ramos, then? How ironic that Harry has managed to birth the very same thing he saved us from.
What Redknapp has achieved should not be scoffed but we have to be honest and admit he doesn't seem to have the concentration/focus/knowledge/love to guide us shrewdly to the next level. The level we're at has seen him attain stability. That's a good thing. The next level is hardly a mountain climb away. Yet this mole hill looks it.
Levy might have you think that Redknapp was someone he had looked at before, in the past, but the reality is probably nearer to being an appointment of a trouble-shooter. A fixer. Someone to get the team away from the bottom three and playing to expectations (based on players at the club). Harry has always been that for some of us. A tad detached. There's Harry standing and next to him, Spurs...an abstract object (as someone elegantly wrote on Twitter recently) he will use to his advantage until a more shiny object presents itself.
He succeeded in not only attaining stability but also pushing us onwards and beyond what we expected from a manager that had never managed a club this big before. This made people sit up and think that Harry had been waiting for Spurs all his life, that finally he was proving what he can do if he has top tier quality in his possession. We shared humble pie. We still had reservations, we still disliked some of his characteristics and habits. All part of the Redknapp brand package - we knew what he was like, it was no surprise. The small print is in a large font when it comes to understanding what makes Harry Harry.
What we're left with looking back at the past and present day is a distortion. He's a good coach, a very decent manager but the lack of extra dimensions to his football planning has left him cruelly exposed. Again. Last season and this season has plenty of damning evidence. As for that gap? Choke.
It doesn't help that he disassociates himself often with the club and the fans. The fact he never makes any sense when he talks, contradicting and changing ambitions based on the last game. One moment we have depth and don't need any players, the next he bemoans lack of depth. He tells the media what he thinks the media want to hear. It's all very basic and obvious. When it's going well, he'll bask in it. When it isn't, he'll look to blame or scratch the head. Or praise the opponents.
In terms of transfers, he has done some good (on the cheap) but Levy is usually the one signing the bigger name players. Harry is for the short-term. It has worked (Parker, Friedel) but equally so it hasn't (lack of rotation).
The biggest mistake made, the one that has probably cost us dearly is the failure to draw a line under the England job. That's when he lost the dressing room. Forget about the 'In the Know' exclusives and whispers. Doesn't take a lot to have it figured out by witnessing the body language of both players and manager. The lack of deceive commitment has failed us. Had that not happened, say if Fabio was still in charge of the national team, even with his (HR) tactical failings he'd have probably got us that 3rd spot or at the very least made 4th comfortable. But he switched off because he losses concentration and can't stay away from all the lavish attention the press send his way. Even now he isn't being criticised to the extent any other manager would be having thrown so much away so easily.
Top 4 was the objective at the start of the season even though many didn't expect or fancy us to achieve that (what with the manner of last season's poor run of form towards the end). But thanks to the quality of other clubs dropping significantly its now looking a wasted campaign.
Not sure what he'll be able to offer England. So many of the reprehensible players that make watching England grating are the very same ones he never stops talking about. The tabloids will continue to love him though. That's probably what matters most to him/them.
Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham? This will never be Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham. He might have the statistics to back him up but he has lacked the grace and measure. Yet he's still the best coach we've had for a long time. Although the true testament to this is the standard the next manager is able to attain with (more or less) the same squad plus new additions. Managing might be easier than it's being made to look. Or not, we'll soon find out.
There were moments though when you just thought, maybe, just maybe. Then he tells us, "I don't remember people like Martin Peters getting rotated, and they played in ankle-deep mud in those days", which is admittance that fatigue is not something he concerns himself with in modern day football because back in the day nobody suffered from it. I guess that means what? It's down to tactics? Anyone in the press want to ask him? Walter Mitty, anyone?
He's hardly endeared himself to the fans (you might have noticed). Although during the court case and just after it we sang for him. He applauded us and his words were heartfelt in appreciation for the support shown by the fans and the club. But then that was ruined from within with special thanks to the FA and John Terry. A job that he might not even be offered now thanks to the distraction it's had on his current one. Unless of course he knows he's got it. Which would explain things equally well.
Everyone should be grateful for that stability, he proved many wrong. But we need someone younger and modern and committed. Someone for the long term. Someone that wants to be part of the club beyond a cheap soundbite. The players appear mystified and confused. Redknapp has exhausted his chest of ideas, flat out. There's nothing to grab hold of.
If Harry isn't into us anymore, then best we get on the phone to the FA, agree compensation and let him go. In fact, I don't even care if the FA pass him by for the job. He hasn't stopped to consider us, so why not honour him with the same gratitude?
More importantly, we need unity in the stands.
The sentiment in '...and we of Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory' is being ignored.
The need for success, it can be ugly and discomforting, removing the enjoyment and love for the football itself. Turning fans bitter and twisting perceptions, pulling us further away from what it should truly be all about.
Above all else, we are Tottenham. Get behind the team, sing your hearts out and support them with everything you've got. This emotive stuff, it actually works wonders.
Love the shirt.