Tottenham Hotspur: Are 'Arry and Spurs wheels falling off?
In the afternoon, Redknapp – or ‘Arry as he is affectionately known in the London media -was acquitted from the accusations levelled at him in a court of law. Just hours later, under the pretence of being outraged at John Terry’s removal at captain (yet probably thinking ‘you know what, this just isn’t worth it’) one Fabio Capello resigned from his post as England manager, leaving behind the rest of his £6 million a year contract and opening the doors for a new boss to be installed.
Without giving too much away as ever, Redknapp refused to rule himself out of the running for the job. As usual, the old lines of ‘it’s a prestigious job, you couldn’t turn it down’ were trotted out and the large majority of us football fans rolled our eyes, had a cup of tea and wanted the FA to get the bloody hell on with it so the vacated post could be filled. Little time passed before ‘Arry was smiling again; this time off the back of a 5-0 demolition job, where his terrific Tottenham side gutted, boiled and served up Alan Pardew’s Toon side with a cool bottle of Chianti to wash them down with.
Everything was rosy; everything was falling into place and the Media were collectively trying to pin down the massive bulge that had erected in their trousers at the prospect of Redknapp guiding England through Euro 2012.
And ‘was’ is the vital word here my friends. For two and a bit months down the line, Tottenham – once high flying in third – are now fifth and look to be without a leg to stand on. Now, call me a pessimistic nihilist, but I haven’t seen too much criticism of Redknapp, have you? Indeed, the Sun – a newspaper which Redknapp conveniently ‘writes’ a column for – have put Redknapp and Spurs’ torrid evaporation down to a vicious fixture list, the brilliance of other managers and of course, the unfair association with Harry to the yet-to-be-filled England position.
The former two excuses are so null and void that if you couldn’t debunk them then you have no right to watch football, so I’ll focus on the latter reason. Surely if Redknapp is having his head turned by another job, then that is damnation rather than a pardon?
This is the Premier League. He’s fighting for Champions League places. One must have their focus entirely on the domestic ball and certainly not allow complacency to creep into their job; and most certainly not complacency fuelled by the possibility of being offered a ‘dream’ position. It seems as though any criticism of Harry is waved away and any condemnation falls on deaf ears. Many have remarked how the race for fourth will go down to the wire, but the crushing realisation for Spurs fans is that third should be well and truly sewn up; and with a fancy kind of a thread, too.
Tottenham were 13 points ahead of Arsenal at one stage and St Totteringham’s day was set to be abolished. Tottenham were playing exhilarating football at a thunderous pace. Two and a-bit months later and they trail Arsenal by six points with a game in hand and Newcastle by three points. The squad playing QPR looked tired and ravaged by ailment for which Redknapp – who is often mawkishly lauded as the best man-manager in the game – has no cure.
Of course, allowing decent back-up players such as Pienaar and Corluka to leave certainly didn’t aid matters and neither did bringing in the ravaged-with-injury Nelsen from Blackburn. Then there’s the rather pressing problem of playing Gareth Bale and Modric in unfamiliar positions, while David Bentley, Niko Kranjcar, Alan Hutton and even the frustrated Jermain Defoe may have something to say about the notion that Redknapp is a confidence man.
Spurs, like so many times before, are bottling it at the final stretch. Harry simply must shoulder some of the blame. Is this what England need? Nervy players being governed by a man who seems to have lost the plot at the most vital stage of the season? A man whose side becomes more vapid with every passing game? Is Redknapp simply feeling the inevitable come down after having such an easy ride as the darling of the media?
Maybe. Of course, Redknapp has done a great job with Tottenham. He has achieved Champions League qualification and inspired some awe-inducing displays. But his achievements are so often twisted in a ridiculous concoction of heavy praise and vacant criticism – incidentally creating expectations which the garrulous man himself finds it hard to live up to. How many excuses can be made until the excuses run out? Will it be the fans expectations that are too high this time? Or just silly media talk? Or will he bombastically saunter from a press conference claiming Europa League football was Spurs' aim all along? Why is it fair that Redknapp is immune to criticism when other managers would feel the full force of the media’s jingoistic and melodramatic backlash?
At this rate, why should Redknapp be picked when Alan Pardew is achieving such great success with a Newcastle side that have spent less than Tottenham and who have maintained a consistent run of form? I refuse to believe that England need an English manager – those who call for just passion and devotion are simply blinkered. Our national team needs tactics, intellect and proven experience – all things which, say, the now engaged Guus Hiddink possessed. But if an English manager is to be appointed, then begrudgingly I must accept it. And surely Pardew has outshone Redknapp this term? Surely it’s his ‘wheeling dealing’, actual tactical nous and man management skills that are defeating Redknapp’s?
For all the tales of golf tournaments with journalists, the bare bones image Arry likes to play on and the exalted and glorified success he enjoys, the man from London’s wheeler deals are rolling away. Will the media turn on Harry? Will he be revealed as a pawn in the papers game of chess like so many others are revealed to be? Has Redknapp bottled it? Either way, he is faltering at the most significant period in his football career to date. The vacant England job may just appear to be a harder challenge for Harry if he does eventually take over having been partially found out. How deleterious an effect could this capitulation have on his time with England if he does accept the position so likely to be offered to him?
The last thing England need is an out-of-form manager boosted by media myopia, guiding us to face the likes of France. Can Redknapp sort it out? The horror of a miserable summer for Spurs rest upon it.
Redknapp is a good – not great – manager veiled behind a barrage of media piss and wind. The wheels are clearly falling off; with just three games left to improve Tottenham’s form, even the most devoted Redknapp follower may have reservations about his ability to screw them back on again.
Calling all Spurs fans. Do you agree with Jack? Why is Harry beyond criticism? Should he really be considered for the England job if he fails to capture a top four place with Spurs? Should he have left White Hart Lane as soon as Capello walked? How will you feel if you miss out on the Champions League? Whatever your view we'd love to hear from you.