Harry Redknapp

August 7, 2010

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.



The Poaching of Liverpool

August 2, 2008

Robbie Keane’s £20.3m transfer from Tottenham to Liverpool should have the alarm bells ringing throughout English football, for this transfer means so much more than simply one players move to another club for an exorbitant fee and exorbitant wages. It is confirmation that the “big four” really are in a league of their own, and can make and break rules, as they wish.

Despite their 11th place finish last season, their form over the previous two seasons and the Carling Cup Final win over Chelsea in March, have earmarked Spurs as the only realistic hope of any team breaking into the “big four” of the premiership. Spurs of course were dramatically robbed of fourth place in 2006 when David Dein, Arsenals chairman, decreed that Spurs should play their final league match with only three fit players. Spurs lost, finished fifth (Arsenal stealing 4th spot) and the chance was lost. Spurs repeated that placing in 2007 and under Juande Ramos Spurs are coming back.

But back to Keane. He was not “a” fans favourite at White Hart Lane, he was THE fans favourite. The jewel in the crown, he was the star player in a team developing a realistic challenge to break into the big league. He’s a player who can change the game with a goal from nothing. Who could forget his famous jig at Wembley after Spurs win over Chelsea? Or his reaction after Spurs 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal in the semi? Keane – who signed a FOUR year contract in March 2006 – hasn’t just left Spurs, he has gone to Liverpool – in premiership terms, the weakest of the “big four” – the very club that would feel most threatened by Spurs emergence as a force. It’s not rocket science to work out that if you keep selling your best players to your rivals then you will never be able to overtake them.

But why did Spurs sell?

Keane’s contract expires in 2010. Surely they didn’t have to sell? And that question and its answer tell the truth about the Champions League. Clearly Spurs felt that they had to sell. Daniel Levy Spurs Chairman…..”I have already made my opinion clear on the nature of this transaction. I don’t regard it as a transfer deal – that is something which happens between two clubs when they both agree to trade – this is very much an enforced sale, for which we have agreed a sum of £19m as compensation plus a potential further £1.3m in additional compensation.”

Additional compensation? Que? Compensation so that Spurs would withdraw their complaint to the Premier League against Liverpool’s illegal poaching of Keane.

Spurs have been forced to confront a harsh reality of modern day football. The reality that the Champions League (thank you, UEFA!) has generated so much money and power for its clubs, that they can pick and choose whichever players they want, when they want and for how much they want. The reality that clubs like Liverpool know they can break every rule they like and they won’t get punished.

It would be great if Spurs ultimately grabbed 4th spot – and the Champions League place this season ahead of Liverpool. But, now, it ain’t gonna happen. It won’t even be close.