Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughHow Good is Harry Redknapp - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough How Good is Harry Redknapp - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

How Good is Harry Redknapp

Spurs fans should be laughing their head off.  Facing relegation as their ship was unsteadily steered by forgotten Spaniard Juande Ramos, the Tottenham board opted to appoint football’s answer to Derek Trotter in a bid to stave off the daunting prospect of Championship football.  Two and a half years into his tenure with the Lilywhites, and good ol’ ‘arry seems to have done a mighty fine job.  Champions League football was secured last season at the expense of the financial muscle of Manchester City; their squad is amongst the strongest in the Premier League, and they look certain to progress through to the quarter finals of the world’s best club competition by beating the mighty AC Milan.

Yet there are grumbles.  A housemate of mine is a regular at White Hart Lane on a Saturday, and he thinks Harry has to go, with their Champions League success a mere adhesive papering over deep dark cracks in the Tottenham armoury.  While I’m usually quick to dismiss this criticism as typical rants of the angry fan, deeper analysis does reveal that perhaps Harry isn’t the miracle worker he’s been portrayed as.

Just look at their squad.  If you want a centre half, take your pick from Ledley King, William Gallas, Sebastien Bassong, Jonathan Woodgate, Michael Dawson, Younes Kaboul or Bogani Khumalo.  Here you have seven fully fledged international players, six of whom have extensive experience of the hustle and bustle of the Premier League.  You compare these to the far shakier boys at the heart of Arsenal’s defence, such as the hapless Sebastien Squillaci and Johan Djourou, then you realise how good Harry Redknapp has it.  All Spurs’ defensive reinforcements would waltz into Arsenal’s team, while Mr Squillaci would have to be content with being Tottenham’s 8th choice.

Steven Pienaar, Niko Kranjcar, Aaron Lennon, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale are those in contention for wide berths, without forgetting youngsters Danny Rose and Andros Townsend, or the on-loan David Bentley and Giovani dos Santos.  Up top, take your pick from Peter Crouch, Jermaine Defoe or Roman Pavlyuchenko, with former £20million man Robbie Keane now shunted out on loan to Birmingham.  You compare this to any squad in England’s top division, and Tottenham look bloody good.

The fact is, even before Harry came in, Tottenham should have been a good side, looking at the immensely talented playing staff they had at their disposal.  What Harry has done, in two and a half of years of thorough and intuitive instruction, is to get a group of good players playing well; pay me a million pounds a year and I’m pretty sure I could do that.  Looking at the changes in personnel Harry has made since he arrived in October 2008, the one area for criticism I’d offer is not the players Harry has brought in, but those he has let go. 

Kevin Prince-Boateng looked a real talent at last summer’s World Cup, yet Tottenham’s boss was willing to sell him for peanuts.  Adel Taarabt, who has been best the best player in the Championship this year without ever getting out of second gear, is another with obvious talent who was deemed surplus to requirements by Mr Redknapp.  Giovani dos Santos days seem numbered, yet in an all too fleeting loan spell with Ipswich Town some two years ago, he looked sensational.  Then there was Darren Bent, whose confidence was savaged by Redknapp’s frankly cruel and disrespectful jibes.  It’s worth pointing out that Bent has outscored current Spurs favourite Peter Crouch in every Premier League season.

For a man who prides himself on good man-management, these are all examples of ill-judged and vindictive attacks on visibly-talented footballers who could have undoubtedly added to Tottenham’s squad if they’d been properly managed.  Tactics also aren’t Harry’s speciality, with his side’s inability to hold onto a lead costing them numerous points this season.  This weekend’s draw at Wolves was another example of the confusion that grips him when he’s faced with a winning position: protecting a 3-2 advantage, he threw on the notoriously neglectful Aaron Lennon, left Jermaine Defoe up front on his own and hoped for the best.  Steven Fletcher’s goal three minutes before the end was just reward for a Wolves team that took control of the game after Redknapp’s crazy substitution.

Let me make one thing clear: I don’t think Harry Redknapp is a bad manager.  He’s done a good job with Tottenham, just as he did a good job with Portsmouth before.  However, there needs to be a greater sense of perspective when talking about his achievements in apparently transferring Tottenham from basement dwellers to title contenders.  He inherited a good squad, and while he has invested in it to good effect, he’s spent £87.5million in the process.  That level of investment added to the gifted but underachieving set of players that were already there should guarantee a decent collection of footballers.

Yet there are bad points to him that can’t be neglected.  A consistent inability to hold onto leads away from home has cost his side throughout this year, and he has a ruthless and unforgiving side to his personality that has cost Tottenham a wealth of talented players.  That’s without mentioning his ignorance to Tottenham’s flourishing youth policy, with the likes of Kyle Walker, Jake Livermore and Kyle Naughton farmed out on loan rather than given their chance.  Given it was Harry that scrapped Tottenham’s reserve side, this dismissive attitude isn’t that much of a surprise.  

Harry is what he is.  He’s sensible in the transfer market, media savvy and has an unrivalled ability to get good value for good players.  He has his limitations, like all football managers.  Outsiders like me would do well to listen to those loyal fans who point these failings out. 

Jon Vale

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