Although events of a rather more European flavour have rather dominated the sports news agenda this past couple of weeks there was a big domestic story last week as Harry Redknapp’s near four years as Spurs boss was ended.
As expected there has been much discussion in the press about the merits of the decision and most have decided it was wrong.
Conventional wisdom is that ‘Arry took Spurs from the bottom of the table an gave them Champions League football, and whilst the bare facts of the matter are that he did do that, but I just wonder if it was bad a decision as it is being made out to be.
Redknapp is almost unique amongst Premier League Managers that in the press (particularly the tabloid’s) he gets very little criticism. It is telling that the first interview about Redknapp’s sacking was given by Redknapp himself (as was the first interview when it was announced that Roy Hodgson had been given the England job.)
As so often, there was Redknapp, hanging out of his car window with a microphone in his face, telling the press pack pretty much whatever he wanted. That is the reason the press loves him. He is always good for a quote on any subject you like. Transfer deadline day, there he will be, telling you who Tottenham are going to buy and sell, or even worse telling anyone who listens that he wants this or that footballers as he’s a “good, good player.”
But equally perhaps Tottenham tired of this? Perhaps Tottenham want to do their business behind closed doors, not through open car windows? And this openness to discussion may have been a problem. It is worth remembering that a day before his sacking, while the rumours were flying around cyberspace that he was leaving Tottenham the former West Manager took to ESPN to inform them that he “wasn’t resigning.”
As well as friends on Fleet Street, Redknapp is also not short of people in the game who will fight his corner. Chief amongst these was Frank Lampard who came out in support of his uncle and said: “I feel really bad for Harry, especially as my biggest success in football turned out so unlucky for him.
"He deserved Champions League football. He and Spurs finished fourth. That's why I'm still shell-shocked by what's happened.
"I have some mates who are Spurs fans and they are desperately disappointed. They remember how they were rock-bottom when Harry came in. Then, all of a sudden, they're playing in the Champions League and competing at the top.
"He's done an amazing job. He did so well people were talking of him as a great choice for England and he deserved that recognition. He certainly didn't deserve to lose his job.”
But does that actually tell the whole story? Yes Spurs were bottom when Redknapp flitted from Portsmouth (and what good timing he showed in doing that!) to take over from the hapless Juande Ramos, but they should never have been, and although they did achieve a fourth placed finish this season, but could it not be argued that they should have achieved perhaps even more? His side were playing some scintillating football, were ten points clear of Arsenal and then imploded, rather spectacularly in 2012, barely scoring a goal – let alone winning a game – away from The Lane. He said the slump had nothing to do with his court case, and the speculation about the England job (a job which he openly touted for it seemed) but surely it is too much of a co-incidence.
So yes, it might ultimately have been Chelsea that robbed them of CL football and cost Redknapp his job, but their own performances didn’t exactly help matters.
That is not to say Harry is a bad manager, his teams play some lovely attacking football and he can spot a player – it was after all the former Spurs boss that plucked Gareth Bale (who was set to join Birmingham) out of Spurs reserves.
However while Redknapp is many things, he is not a winner. An FA Cup at Portsmouth (which has bankrupted the club) is the only major trophy he has to show for his career, and perhaps the Spurs board aren’t quite as stupid as they first appear in sacking him?
A couple of years ago the board of another Premier League team sacked a boss that everyone said had done a great job and was “unlucky.” That team was Newcastle, the boss was Chris Hughton and lets be honest, it hasn’t worked out too badly at St James’ Park has it?
The time to judge the decision is not now, but next May, so for now, the Hotspur hierarchy deserve the benefit of the doubt, whatever Harry Redknapp says in his next public utterance.