By Tony Attwood
LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 13: Fulham manager Martin Jol and Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp greet each other ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham at White Hart Lane on May 13, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
For a long time after it happened, Harry Redknapp claimed he did not know why he was sacked by West Ham. In 1999 WHU had had their second best ever season coming fifth in the Premier League and qualifying for the Intertoto. In 2000 West Ham won the Intertoto and qualified for the UEFA Cup – another step up. Then he left WHU one game before the end of the 2000/1 season he was sacked.
Parallels to today, perhaps.
At the time he said that he had just arranged a new four year contract, and had gone to see the chairman about transfer funds for the next season, but was sacked instead. In 2007 he gave a slightly different version saying that he had talked to a fanzine and said some things he should not have said.
After that it has not been all plain sailing. While Mr R. clearly can’t be blamed for everything, bad luck does follow him as Bournemouth, West Ham, Southampton, and Portsmouth (his clubs) have all had deep financial troubles. Interestingly, some of the fans of his ex-clubs don’t hold him in high esteem either.
Mr Redknapp has had his days in court too – and was found not guilty. In 2006, Panorama showed him seemingly tapping up Andy Todd. In 2007 there were questions about the gift to him of a racehorse called Double Fantasy which again came to nothing.
Next Mr Redknapp was arrested along with Peter Storrie and Milan Mandari?, on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting. It was openly known abroad, and hints were given in the UK that Storrie had, for reasons that have never been explained, been tried separately and earlier, and found not-guilty – thus making the rest of the trial something of a farce. That is not to say I suggest Mr Redknapp was guilty – rather that the organisation of the trial was utterly odd.
However in the trial Mr Redknapp did rely on the interesting evidence in court, notably that he was both dyscalculic and dyslexic – difficult disabilities for a football manager dealing in transfers. Indeed it is probably the only time a football manager has relied on such statements in his defence.
After the case he said he would take the police to court over his arrest. I don’t think he did, although the High Court ruled in May 2008 that the raid on Mr Redknapp’s house, even though accompanied by search warrants, was “wholly unacceptable,” and ordered the police to pay him £1000 compensation. A very rare turn of events.
But lets be clear: Harry Redknapp has delivered the most successful team at Tottenham in years with a 4th, 5th, 4th finish, and almost becoming the top London team for the first time since 1995. There was talk of this team being better than the 1991 cup winning team. But then…
On the morning of 8 February, Redknapp was acquitted of charges of tax evasion. That evening, Fabio Capello resigned as England manager. A Roy of the Rovers story with modern day scenarios. On 11 Feb Tottenham beat Newcastle 5-0. In the next game Tottenham went 2-0 up against Arsenal. I remember it. I was there.
I have read fans say that Arry can’t take Tottenham to the next level. That’s dangerous because getting above Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Newcastle and Arsenal involves not only Tottenham doing brilliantly, but also all of those clubs having an off-season. You may not have noticed it, but the standard goes up every year. Besides although Tottenham have a benefactor in the Virgin Islands, he doesn’t want to plough a fortune into the club. Rather he looks to me like a man who wants to sell it when it is in the Champions League. Maybe that is the clue.
Did Mr Leavey think that Mr Redknapp paid too much attention to England? Should Arry have said, “Thanks but no thanks,” rather than let it all roll? Come to that, was it a conspiracy by the FA to get their own back at him for something or other? (No, it wasn’t I am sure, but conspiracy theories are always fun.)
Was it the fall from 10 points clear of Chelsea and Arsenal on 11 Feb to fourth? Hell, shit happens. Everyone has bad runs, and Tottenham is not yet established as a regular top four team. It needs another year or two.
Did Arsenal sack Mr Wenger because we kept going out in the group stages of the Champions League? No, they listened, let him buy, and told him to get on with it.
So maybe it was Mr Redknapp’s mouth that cost him the job. He talked about the fact that discussions of his future was destabilising the squad. He seemingly wanted a contract to take him up to the age of 70. And he wanted a transfer fund. Lots of it.
And maybe that is it. Mr Wenger, as we know, often makes a profit in the transfer market, and last time I checked, he had done this through his long tenure. Indeed he did it almost from the start with his sensational purchase of Anelka for £250,000 and sale of him for £25m. Mr Redknapp doesn’t seem to do that, and indeed as far as I can see (and please correct me if I am wrong) does make a lot of purchases that are costly but not always successful. Mr Wenger does that too – but these are overcome by the profits he makes over and over again. Anyone remembers Overmars?
The problem is worse because like Arsenal a few years back, Tottenham need money now, and how, to build a stadium. As Mr Wenger found, it is a draining experience.
So maybe this is it. Mr Redknapp has made a loss in the transfer market, spoke openly of the smallness of his squad, while forgetting that some of his expensive purchases have not been playing in the first team, and demanding more money.
Or maybe it is this: he broke the great football rule of taking on Daniel Levy. Don’t talk about Mr Levy behind his back – particularly on TV and in the press. Don’t say you don’t know what’s going on. Do you ever hear other managers saying that? Yes, occasionally, but rarely at the top level. I can’t recall Mr Wenger ever mentioning the board. Sir Alex expresses great faith in his owners even when selling his very best player.
And don’t tell Mr Levy to “hurry up” and offer a new contract as he only has 12 months to go. Don’t go there. Mr Levy does not get pushed, and he does not explore corners. And while we are at it, don’t say at one point in the season we can be 1st and then say you are satisfied with 4th.
Yes I know Mr Wenger said “we could go all season unbeaten” and then lost a match (before actually doing it), but by then he had delivered an unbeaten away season, and a couple of doubles.
Oh, and don’t say things that might make your best players (Bale, Modric) think of leaving. Believe me as an Arsenal fan, I know what it feels like to lose great players. Brady, Stapleton, Henry, Overmars, Vieira, Cole, Fabregas. I hated leaving them, although Cole gave me reason also to want him to go personally – but as a footballer, I didn’t want any of that to happen.
Now with the manager going, what of Bale and Modric? And how quickly can some replacements be signed?
Mr Redknapp will presumably get his £3 million pay off, which will denude Tottenham’s coffers a little, just as the money is needed. Everton will want another £3m for their man.