I can’t quite understand it – myself and most Arsenal fans are feeling pretty good this week with the news that Harry Redknapp has been sacked by Spurs. This is credit to a manager who has made our neighbours a genuine threat for the first time in what feels like forever. And yet, most Spurs fans are happy too!
Whatever you say about their end-of-season form, in most seasons 4th place would, and should, be seen as an absolute miracle for a club of Tottenham’s size. After taking them from bottom of the table to 8th in his first season, Harry then guided them to 4th, 5th, and 4th again – very respectable, and if not for a fluke Champions League win for Chelsea this year, they’d be enjoying Champions League football for only the second time.
This latest axing by the Spurs board (the 9th in Arsene Wenger’s time at Arsenal alone) reminds us once again just what this club is all about – delusions of grandeur. As soon as they get a sniff of the top four, they think they should be winning the title. This goes to their board and their fans.
Obviously the board are unhappy that the distraction of the England job seemed to turn Harry’s head, and this in turn led to their collapse in the league this season. Obviously if the manager is not 100% focused then there are bound to be problems, but as it turned out he didn’t get the England job, so that particular option was out of the window. Surely he would have been ready for next season? When questioned on his future he showed no sign of wanting to quit, in fact he wanted a new contract.
And in fairness to Spurs, they have to realise that theirs is not the most prestigious job in football; if their manager does well, he’s bound to attract the attention of the FA if England are without a boss. To sack him for showing an interest in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like that is crazy.
Yes, Redknapp had his weaknesses; some of his signings were strange, to say the least (Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen brought in in January then released at the end of the season) and he certainly let too many players leave on loan (Pienaar and Corluka), leaving their squad very thin for the run-in. Off the pitch, he had his tax evasion court case and was sometimes perceived as a bit of a dodgy character; he also had a bad record when it came to spending within his clubs’ means, leaving previous employers West Ham, Portsmouth, Bournemouth and Southampton in financial disaster after his time there.
However, Spurs can’t exactly afford to be picky; who exactly are they expecting to get who’d be any better? Some big names have been linked, like Rafael Benitez and Andre Villas-Boas, but are they really a step up? Benitez had a mixed time at Liverpool and more recently a very bad time with a team that had conquered all under Jose Mourinho just months earlier; AVB had a hard time at Chelsea, possibly because of how they run things more than anything else, but he’s certainly young and inexperienced in a league like this. Spurs fans have already turned their noses up at the mention of Everton’s David Moyes, who would be interesting, and certainly more the level they should be thinking about.
Overall, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a stupid move by the Tottenham board. Apart from one good season from Martin Jol in 2006 (who was also unfairly sacked, arguably) they have never reached the kind of heights reached under Harry. As well as league finishes, the style of their football has at times been brilliant, with the likes of Bale and Modric in particular becoming vastly improved players under his management. What will they make of Redknapp’s departure? And will successful loan signing Adebayor want to rush back to the Lane after the sacking of a man who made such a bold move in bringing him there in the first place?
While I must admit I admire Spurs’ ambition over the last few years – the unwillingness to simply be a mid-table side – this latest move is simply far too detached from reality to be a step forward. Chelsea, Liverpool and hopefully Arsenal will be much-improved next season and it’s rare that a new manager, even if he is the ‘right choice,’ will hit the ground running. Harry was the best they could hope for at this stage, and any of their fans rejoicing in this move are simply kidding themselves, and would do well to look into the not-so-distant past and where they were before his arrival.