Focus on Tottenham

Redknapp exit completes fall

June 14, 2012
By Kevin Palmer
(Archive)

A mere four months have passed since Harry Redknapp was the darling of the English nation and an apparent certainty to be the next manager of his country, yet his fall from grace has been confirmed: he has been ruthlessly sacked by Tottenham.

Harry Redknapp coaching staff v Arsenal
GettyImagesIt all came crashing down for Harry Redknapp against Arsenal

The football grapevine has been creaking for weeks with rumours that Redknapp was destined for summer exit from White Hart Lane, so few in the game were surprised when the smoke developed into a smouldering inferno on Wednesday night.

Taken to the brink of the Promised Land by a manager who revelled amid the wave of euphoria surrounding him when the going was good, Redknapp's inability to get his hands dirty when the tide turned against him may well have cost him the England job. Now it may have seen him run out of English football for good. The post-mortem on Redknapp's three-and-a-half-year reign at White Hart Lane can begin in earnest.

While some will argue that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has been harsh in sacking a manager who revived a team that had hit rock bottom before his arrival in October 2008, it became the inevitable outcome after another season of unwanted Europa League football was inked into Tottenham's diary.

Misfortune may have ultimately cost Tottenham a place in next season's Champions League qualifying round, as Chelsea's triumph in Munich dealt their London rivals a devastating hammer blow, yet Levy and a majority of Spurs fans believe such an unpalatable twist of fate should never have befallen them in a season when so many cards were stacked in Redknapp's favour.

Liverpool's lamentable efforts under the misguidance of deposed boss Kenny Dalglish, Chelsea's disastrous first half of the season that led to the demise of coach Andre Villa-Boas and the inconsistency of the worst Arsenal team pieced together by Arsene Wenger during his time at the club opened a gaping door for Tottenham to return to the Champions League.

Those of us who were present for Tottenham's scintillating 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle in mid-February were duped into believing Redknapp had built a team finally capable of pulling a club synonymous with false dawns into the winning circle at last but, alas, their unwanted tag as the Premier League's nearly men was not to be shed.

When the wheels began to fall off their season, the manager paid a reported £4 million a year to steady their ship was incapable of finding the remedy and, even though opinions may differ on the reasons Redknapp was not able to revive his side when they fell to their knees, few Spurs fans will lament his exit.

An unconvincing tactician, Redknapp's rabble-rousing abilities appeared to wane in the final two months of the season, with his excuses for his side's inability to make the most of their dominant position in the race for a top-three finish becoming increasingly excruciating.

Redknapp's persistently feeble argument that "bad luck" was the only problem with his team as they failed to get positive results against Everton, Stoke and QPR was wafer-thin, while his disastrous decision to select an out-of-touch Jermain Defoe in an ill-fated 4-4-2 formation for the crucial home defeat against Norwich was the final straw for many of his critics.

His constant reminders to those of us who regularly attend his press briefings that Tottenham's wage bill is lower than their rivals' and that their spending power in the transfer market is modest compared to Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester's big two was valid, but a side featuring the world-class talent of Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart proved they could outsmart most in the Premier League until their season fell off the rails in all too familiar fashion.

The symmetry between their demise in the 2011-12 season and the campaign just gone was alarming, and yet Redknapp seemed very tetchy when anyone dared to suggest his team's inability to finish a season on a high was down to his training ground failings.

However, the facts do not lie. A run of just one Premier League win from ten games between February 22 and May 10 was followed up by a sequence that saw Tottenham claim a solitary victory in a slump that began with their season-defining 5-2 thrashing against Arsenal on February 26. Throw in their 5-1 FA Cup semi-final humiliation at the hands of Chelsea in April and you have a chain of events that pushed Redknapp to the brink.

Did the Spurs hierarchy question why Redknapp's side did not have the staying power to last a full season? Maybe they questioned his training methods and the fitness of players who seemed incapable of maintaining their impressive early season form at the business end of the season.

Rumours that star names were opening questioning the training methods of their manager and his ludicrously vast coaching staff including Joe Jordan, Kevin Bond, Clive Allen, Les Ferdinand, Tony Parks and Tim Sherwood refused to disperse, but it was his eagerness to talk up his chances of landing the England job that seems to have been the final straw for Levy.

Harry Redknapp
GettyImagesHarry Redknapp was considered favourite for the England job before it went to Roy Hodgson

Having backed his manager to the hilt in his successful battle to clear his name over tax-fraud charges, a betrayed Levy was shocked by his manager's desperation to land the vacant England job, and now he has paid the ultimate price for eyeing up a tastier option just days after his employers had put their reputation on the line in their support of their key employee.

If this maverick accepts a king's ransom to play out his final days as a coach in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, as the rumours suggest he might, the critics who lambast him as a man motivated more by money than glory will believe their vision of this affable if unproven coach has been justified.

As for Tottenham, their latest agonisingly frustrating aborted brush with glory has claimed yet another high-profile manager and, if Everton boss David Moyes is to be the next in line to work for the demanding Levy, he will know that nothing less than Champions League qualification in a season when the opposition are set to improve dramatically will suffice.

Not for the first time, Tottenham have missed their golden chance to join the game's elite and they may have to wait a long time to get another opportunity as good as the one Redknapp failed to grasp.