Redknapp departure best for everyone
With all the speculation surrounding Harry Redknapp’s apparent destiny for England’s top job, it would almost certainly have been impossible for the 65-year-old not to believe that he was on a fast track to Euro 2012. With the nation behind him, the pundits behind him and, crucially, all of “Fleet Street” behind him, the FA’s decision seemed to have been made. A done deal.
But the FA does not share the same popularity as Redknapp. Indeed, it has a proven track record of making distinctly unpopular decisions. This time, however, they may even have outdone themselves. It isn’t necessarily the decision to employ Roy Hodgson as England manager. Roy is popular because he isn’t overly dislikeable; plus, of course, he’s English.
No, it is the way in which the FA went after Redknapp while it coveted Hodgson. Nobody can deny that Tottenham’s terrible run of form at a crucial time of the season was in no small part connected to the unsettling of their manager and the plague of uncertainty that swept through the squad thereafter. Was he going? Or not? And the points were just frittered away.
That aside, I have been told by more than one player at the club that one decision in particular last season angered Daniel Levy, the club chairman, beyond redemption. After Norwich City had held Arsenal 3-3 at the Emirates Stadium, Tottenham needed to beat Aston Villa to all but secure third spot.
With the score at 1-1, Rednapp made a change. But instead of the extra striker that was needed to grab a vital winner, he threw on Scott Parker and played for the draw. A few people have told me that there were strong words in the Tottenham camp after that incident and that relations between manager and chairman were never quite the same again.
There is no question that Redknapp is a talented manager but at the very highest level, which Spurs are undoubtedly aiming for, Manchester City have shown that having a collection of the world’s finest players is still only good enough to get a team over the line on goal difference.
Chelsea, who finished sixth, won the Champions League and put paid to Tottenham’s hopes of qualifying for the competition – despite their creditable fourth-place finish – for the second time in three seasons. With margins that tight and competition that fierce, Spurs can’t afford misjudgements like the one made by Redknapp at Villa Park.
With rumours rife of a takeover by a Qatari investment fund next season, and planning grants for stadium redevelopment now secure, the margin for error will be even slimmer. Perhaps the decision that Harry should leave is best for everybody connected with Tottenham.
Redknapp put the North London club back to within touching distance of the big time … and his departure may prove to be the catalyst that keeps them there.