Harry Redknapp: Past, Present and Future

Twenty nine years after beginning his managerial career in 1983, Harry Redknapp has come full circle after re-joining his first club in a voluntary advisory role. This serves as the perfect excuse to look back on Redknapp’s CV to date and asks what may lie in the future for the man who was overlooked by England and sacked by Tottenham during last season.


Those in the football industry all too often base the successes of a certain player / manager / club on how big their respective trophy cabinet is. Certainly this rule should not be a static measure of success or should not be used to rank managers in a certain order of ability. David Moyes is widely regarded as one of the finest managers in the Premier League and yet has not won a single piece of silverware with his Everton side. Sadly he is one of the very few who have managed to break free from traditional thought and have his talents universally recognised.


All too often people try to put other people into boxes: “winner”-“loser” being one of many used in the footballing community. Somehow those involved with football assume that rattling off a long list of silverware is a measure of success, which doesn’t bare any thought to relative budgets of clubs amongst other factors. While the winning of silverware is indeed a huge success and should be recognised and applauded, it should not be the defining characteristic of a good football manager.


As such a quick glance at Redknapp’s trophy cabinet does not suggest much: a Division Three title and a Football League trophy with Bournemouth followed by a Division One (Championship) title and an FA Cup with Portsmouth. Compared to the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho a pretty dire return. However Redknapp was not the first English manager to have won the Premier League Manager of the Season award for nothing. Redknapp led Tottenham into their first ever Champions League in its modern form and would have done so again with last season’s 4th place finish if it had not been for Chelsea’s heroics over Bayern Munich.


One of they key attributes a manager also needs that is not measured by silverware is the ability to strike gold in the transfer market time and again. At Spurs Redknapp built a side that played pure attacking football and deservedly received many plaudits from fans and pundits alike. However football can be a fickle mistress, and the man hotly tipped to step in as replacement to Fabio Capello in the England hot-seat finished the 2011/12 season sacked as Spurs manager.


Redknapp is also the man responsible for the arrival of one Paolo Di Canio, a forward of immaculate skill and ability. Despite his outbursts and flamboyant character Di Canio scored some of the greatest goals the Premier League has ever seen. His ability to bring the best out of troublesome or previously inconsistent players is known by many, but truly appreciated by few.


Admittedly Redknapp suffered an ill fated stint at Southampton but such blips are inevitable in any industry. Sir Alan Sugar has had his failures but that hasn’t stopped him becoming one of the most recognisable faces in Britain. In a similar vein Redknapp reacted to his failures and became a much improved football manager.


These days of course Redknapp is not a football manager but a Match of the Day pundit and advisor at Bournemouth. The mere presence of Redknapp around the club will surely impact positively on the players. And as a voluntary member of staff, have Bournemouth staged a late bid for summer signing of the season? Perhaps.


Only time will tell if Redknapp will return to our screens through his car window every transfer deadline day as he ducks and dives his way through the transfer market as a football manager once more. Certainly football is richer for Redknapp’s inclusion on the inside, his talents rather wasted as he looks from the outside with the rest of us.


Many have suggested that he is not, tactically speaking, an astute manager. Many use his refusal to rotate his Tottenham squad last season as evidence for such claims. However Redknapp cannot satisfy every player and surely playing your best team in a system they are comfortable with makes footballing sense. I seem to remember a certain Martin O’ Neill having major success with Aston Villa, even being widely tipped as potential Champions League qualifiers, and he did so by sticking with his best side game after game. The lowly position of Villa since his departure should serve as an indication that despite how long we play football manager for, the real deal is a greater challenge by far.


Redknapp’s CV deceives: he is truly a top class manager in every sense of the word. If we were right to place managers into boxes, then I would certainly file him alongside the likes of Martin O’Neill and David Moyes as superb examples that winning silverware is not the be-all and end-all of footballing honour and respect.


Tomos Llewellyn


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