Harry Redknapp is rarely out of the news these days.
The Spurs manager seems to be one of those characters that attract attention almost unwittingly. Surprisingly sacked by West Ham in 2001, after presiding over The Hammers second best ever premiership finish, Redknapp resurfaced at Portsmouth where he was manager for a little over three years before disagreements with owner Milan Mandaric led to his resignation. Redknapp then threw fuel into the fire by becoming manager of Pompey’s great rivals, Southampton. The move infuriated Pompey fans and Redknapps rather odd response was that he did not realise there was so much rivalry between the two South Coast clubs.
Barely a year later, in December 2005, Redknapp returned to Fratton Park for a successful spell which resulted in the clubs highest league finish since the 1950s and in 2008 they won the FA Cup for the first time since 1939. Even then Redknapp managed to turn success into the bizarre. Just 2 days before a ceremony awarding him the “Freedom of the City”, as a result of that cup win, Redknapp left Portsmouth to manage Spurs and since then has been relatively successful, guiding the team to the Champions League for the first time since 1961.
Hanging over Redknapp’s – and Spurs’ – head this season though is his impending court trial for failure to declare income and pay tax. That incident is another carry over from his time at Fratton Park.
As if the court date wasn’t enough, in the last month ‘Arry has been in the news three times – its almost as if his lack of activity in the transfer market has prompted him to look for ways of keeping Spurs in the news. Firstly, he put himself forward as Great Britain Olympic coach for the 2012 games football tournament. It will be the first time Britain have had a team in the Olympics since 1960 and it’s been agreed that they are represented by a solely English team. That team is a compromise as the Scottish, Welsh & Northern Irish FA’s refused to endorse a combined team. Then came the absurd….. Redknapp offered to find a home for the Russian donkey which was photographed parasailing. Spurs fans cringed at how their club was portrayed in the media and one can only guess what Roman Pavlyuchenko, Spurs disappointing Russian striker, thought. The headline writers had a field day.
This week though, Harry was spot on when he complained about the midweek international date just three days before the start of the premiership.
England are due to play Hungary in what can only be described as a complete waste of time. Englands last fixture was the shellacking at the hands of Germany on June 27. The team were in camp together from the end of the season until then and many have only just returned to their clubs after the shortest of close season breaks. Spurs have a large contingent of England players, some who went to the World Cup – Lennon, King, Dawson, Defoe & Crouch – and some who did not – Jenas, Huddlestone, Bentley and the perpetually injured Woodgate. How is Redknapp supposed to prepare his team for the opening day of the season when so many are away on international duty? Redknapp says he won’t get his players back until the Friday, having not had them at training for the whole week. On Saturday, Spurs kick off the Premiership with the first match of the season at home to Manchester City. It’s a huge match in the context of the season as both clubs are viewed as serious contenders for the championship. How can Redknapp seriously prepare his players for such a match when most of them are elsewhere? Now its true that Manchester City also have quite a large contingent of international players, many of whom are likely to be involved in midweek, so perhaps it evens out. But at the end of the day its likely that we will see two underprepared teams come day one of the season. Given the importance of the match, that’s not something that fans will want to see.
According to the FA, the fault lies with FIFA who designated the day as an international date. With this the last opportunity to try new faces before the upcoming Euro qualifiers in September, England had little choice but to arrange a match.
Really? And what new faces is Capello going to try, that he didn’t take to South Africa? And on what basis is he going to select them? He hasn’t seen any of them play since May. If they weren’t good enough then…..
It’s an absurd date for an international and Redknapp is right to complain.