So Harry Redknapp departs with my sincere gratitude but no tears. Tottenham Hotspur goes on, first, last and everything, as ever it will be. Those good players are still Spurs players. Daniel Levy is in charge, and he always was.
As news of Harry’s dismissal leaked out last night, the social media debate raged over the rights and wrongs. Much of it focussed on the end of last season – basically, 4th/5th/4th versus ten points clear of Arsenal. Spurs fan, author Adam Powley lamented on twitter: “before theinterweb did football fans of the same club endlessly argue the same arguments over and over and over again?”
It is and always was something more fundamental. It’s about the future of our club. In this regard, Redknapp gets all the publicity, Levy holds all the cards. The two seem never to have got on especially well but I doubt that matters unduly. In football and in any business personal relationships are of secondary importance to the main goal, success. My view has always been that Levy made Redknapp a better manager because he reined in his excesses by seeking medium to long-term value in any purchases. Our success is based on a steady stream of young players and players for whom Spurs is a genuine step up the ladder. Redknapp complemented them by finding value in experience – Parker and Van der Vaart the best examples, Adebayor on loan, Pienaar at £2m – which turned us into one of the best sides in the country and for a precious, magical time title contenders.
The media concentrates on the players wheeler-dealer ‘arry was not permitted to buy but the primary issue here is the value to the club of the manager. Redknapp took his eye off the ball at the end of last season. The England job was a profound distraction whatever Redknapp claims to the contrary and I strongly believe the court case took much more out of him than anyone is willing to acknowledge. People assumed it’s over, now he can move on: rubbish. That’s not how the human mind works. Relief is the overriding emotion. Mind and body relax and although it feels good, it dulls the senses. Football managers have to be on top form all the time. They have no chance, no room, to relax, yet this phase of letting go then rebuilding and planning ahead has to be worked through from beginning to end. Inconveniently for us, unavoidably for Redknapp, that coincided with the climax to our season. His decisions were consistently poor and by the time he was ready, our time had passed. I doubt he had a full understanding of what was happening to him.
Now he’s looking to the future and he’s restless. He wanted assurances more permanent than either a three/four year or 12 month rolling contract allow, the shark agent no doubt whispering in his ear how much other clubs will pay for his restorative powers. Levy however is made of different stuff. Levy sorts out the club’s future whilst sitting shiva for his late mother. He has no time for those who are distracted. He kept a grip. Eye on the ball, eye on the prize.
Levy saw weakness and fatally it tipped the balance. Redknapp has accomplished a hell of a lot for this club but that’s in the past. Levy showed sentiment as he grieved. In business, he’s as cold as ice. He calculated the future to Tottenham Hotspur of a man who inspired the side to the quarter finals of the Champions league, whose players dazzled the league. Value. Redknapp wants more money but he’s 65 and his powers may be on the wane. When the going was tough, he didn’t get going. It’s not about the odd hundred thou, it’s tying Spurs into compensation of anywhere between £4m and £12m if it doesn’t work out, never mind the cash for Harry’s pals in the dugout. Not worth it, on balance. Harsh, perhaps not fair, but on balance, correct.
My view? Covered in the post before this one. Just scroll down a bit, it’s OK. Not a Harry lover but I supported another year provided Redknapp had but a single thought on his mind – the glory of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. If he was focussed and motivated, he should carry on. I don’t think he is. If another season managing this group of wonderful players for a great club at £4m a year is not sufficient ambition, then he should go elsewhere.
He won’t care a jot but he goes with my abiding thanks. The best football for over thirty years, the shimmering brilliance of a flowing, attacking, passing game – he did that, and to me whilst I won’t forget the dross, the missed opportunities, those memories burn brighter. Praising his achievements isn’t to say that someone else won’t be able to do it better. And dross and missed opportunites I can deal with. I’m a Spurs fan.
Consistency is what we crave, a man to stick by us, maybe someone who pays more attention to the heritage of this club that is held is trust by us, the fans. Daniel, we’re looking to you, because everything at this club, you make it happen. You’re better with balance sheets than you are with managers, so be careful. Be honest, Redknapp was a short-term appointment that in fact has endured remarkably well.
Tread warily. The media will be after you, because you’ve done down their mate. Two seasons running, we collapse at the end of the season, not a murmur. The players were tired, act of god rather than being Harry’s fault. Now, one slip and they’ll be on us. A start to the season where we are, heaven forfend, outside the CL places, and it will be a crisis, mark my words. So be careful and do your best. Don’t waste this squad. We’re counting on you.