|So, the allegedly fractious
relationship between chairman Daniel Levy and manager Harry Redknapp
has come to an end and there was always going to be one who was
going to receive an unhappy ending.
By why has it come to this, as Tottenham
have been enjoying their best league form for a long time.
Well, let's look at some of the
evidence (some more hearsay and opinion than fact) ...
Perhaps Harry had set up his own downfall, with the qualification
for the Champions League two seasons back. With a tantalising
taste of feeding at Europe's top table, the expectation to go on and
be there every year was one that had crept in. Some more
realistic supporters realised that this might just be an occasional
invitation, but there is no doubt that there was the opportunity to
capitalise on the opening and make a move into the big time on a
This year, Harry was a little unlucky as he got fourth place, but
the winners are allowed to defend their trophy even if they finish
outside the top four and thus Spurs got bumped. Where Harry
fell down was our next point.
Spurs will always struggle to be a regular in the Champions League
because they are unable to attract the players who want £200,000 a
week in wages and they will go to Manchester United, Chelsea or
Manchester City. Even Arsenal cannot match that level of
We may have been punching above our weight for the last three
seasons, but that is the reality of it. Spurs are a top six
side, with aspirations to be in the top three.
Harry might have added to those ambitions, but
Not finishing third
With a place in the top three guaranteeing a passport through to the
group stages of the Champions League, it looked like Tottenham might
achieve that this year, having sat in that position for a lot of the
season. But the poor form through March and April saw Spurs
slip out of the top three and end up just about keeping the fourth
Injuries did affect team selection, but there was a run of games
where Spurs should have picked up points and that would have been
enough to secure third come the end of the campaign.
Losing points to the likes of Stoke City, Norwich City and QPR was
not in keeping with the way the team had played up to that point ...
and Harry can't put it all down to bad luck.
The England manager's job
When Fabio Capello walked out on England, the resounding favourite
to take over was Harry Redknapp. Knowing this, Daniel Levy set
about making sure that the club were protected should the FA come
calling and put in place an offer of a new contract, so that
adequate compensation would be coming to White Hart Lane if the
manager was to go.
But that call never came and like Brian Clough before him, the
people's (and players) favourite for the job was overlooked in
favour of Roy Hodgson.
Redknapp must have been gutted, as that would have taken him
virtually to retirement and would have saved him travelling from
Dorset to London on a regular basis.
It ahs been claimed in the papers that Levy was gutted when Redknapp
didn't get the England job, as it would have been the ideal solution
to his problem. A way out for the manager, no need to sack him
and a handsome pay out from the FA to bring in a new man.
Spurs took Harry on despite knowing about the court case hanging
over his head and they also helped him through his heart operation
last season. Not knowing if your manager would be at liberty
or fit enough to carry on fulfilling his duties, the club were right
But then when it came to some loyalty the other way, the shoe was on
the other foot it seemed.
Having come out and admitted that he would have taken the England
job had it been offered, Redknapp delivered a slap to Levy's face
that the chairman was never going to take kindly to. For all
the platitudes he trolled out to the media every time he was asked
about not getting the post (I would miss the day to day involvement,
I've got a fantastic job at Tottenham, They're a great group of
players, etc) , it now appears to have been a bit of an arrow to his
But why did they go for Hodgson ?
Of a similar vintage to Redknapp, he is more an FA man and perhaps
the FA took the view that he would be the man to have a better
overview of the whole project (i.e. running St. George's Park) than
just concentrating on the senior side. Oh, yes ... and he was
the cheaper option.
But maybe there were elements of Redknapp's way of working that they
didn't like. They had an insider in Trevor Brooking who knew
Harry and despite Brooking's comments about him not falling out with
Harry, the information he would have had access to on the former
West Ham team-mate would have painted a picture. Plus there
are other aspects of Redknapp's man-management that are out there
for all to see.
Relationships with players
It has been rumoured recently that the way Harry deals with all his
players is not all smiles and laughter. Players who have left
the club have offered the opinion that if you are not in the team,
then you are side-lined not just from the team, but also from the
manager, with him not talking to you.
Managing a deep squad is not easy, as there will always be
disaffected players for one reason or another. And when
players can't get into the team because the manager is playing
players out of position, what must that tell them ?
It is the same in most clubs that managers have their favourites and
that some players will be played week in, week out regardless of
their form. However, in this day and age, it is a part of the
manager's job to relay this to players and ensure that all are ready
to come in and play their part when needed.
Niko Kranjcar is a prime example. Not chosen for the team, he
had few opportunities to play, but when he did come back into the
side, he looked disinterested and over-weight.
How has he handled the Jermain Defoe situation ? A player who
nearly ended up our top scorer despite not being a regular starter.
When we needed goals, why was he still on the bench ?
His side-lining of Steven Pienaar has backfired as the player had a
fine end to the season when he went on loan back to Everton.
Harry clearly didn't fancy him and you may read into it that he was
signed by Levy and was not the player that Redknapp wanted for the
left side of his midfield.
Remember his comment about Darren bent's miss that Harry's wife
Sandra could have scored ? Funny and one for the papers, but
it probably led to Bent leaving the club in the end. Yes, he
should have scored, but other players had missed equally good
chances too over the years.
You might have to ask the question about how many players were happy
at Tottenham despite all the good words that were attributed to them
about Harry's management.
Harry was much like a lot of managers who always need one more
player. But last season he did have to make do with free
agents, loans or low cost signings, with Scott Parker being the
biggest investment. Maybe that was because Levy didn't want to have
money spent when Redknapp wasn't going to be around ... either
taking the England job or not continuing as Spurs manager. Conversely, the players
Harry had brought in were
not always in line with the policy of the club to buy players who
would do a job and have a sell-on value, so the likes of Gallas, and
When Harry said he wanted Gary Cahill and Carlos Tevez in January,
he was perhaps being a little over-ambitious. No Champions
league football makes it harder to win over possible transfer
targets and there was no way that Tevez's demands would have fitted
into Tottenham's wage structure.
If he wanted Cahill, then the time to have gone for him would have
been at the start of the season.
With a lot of money spent on the side in previous years, the squad was always the best
there had ever been at the club, but it was players such as Gareth
Bale, Luka Modric and Jermain Defoe were already at the club when
Harry arrived. Kyle Walker, Jake Livermore and Steven Caulker
are the future of the club and their success has not solely been
down to Harry's management, as they have both got rave reviews while
off out on loan, although Harry was perhaps more willing to give Jake a
chance than the other two.
The club have a talented array of young players coming through and
perhaps the clogging up of the route to the first team by older
players is not the way that the future appears to the chairman.
The wage structure will always be an issue for a Tottenham manager.
It restricts who will be willing to come to N17 as a six figure
weekly salary is not on offer.
But that has not stopped the club flourishing and while we might not
have the world-class stars of other sides, it is the right blend of
players who complement each other that brings about a good team and
not always a collection of over-paid superstars.
With the UEFA Financial Fair Play rules set to kick in soon, clubs
will not be able to over-spend and therefore, the need for the new
stadium to increase revenue through accredited channels.
The cost of building the new ground is not included in this
valuation, but it will allow us to bring in more money through the
gates and this may allow the purse strings to be loosened for wages
... as might the Tottenham Hotspur share of the £3.06 billion TV
deal that will kick in the season after next.
But everything is relative and the money that the Chelskis, Man U's
and City's have to call on will always be more than ours, unless
there is a change in ownership.
And that can bring it's own problems.
With the fans doubting Redknapp's use of Bale and Lennon at QPR, it
was obvious that certain factions were not entirely satisfied with
the way he set up his teams. Fine when it worked, such as
Bale's rampaging through Norwich's defence away from home, but too
often, his use of Bale on the right or through the middle upset the
balance of the side and when the Welshman moved inside when we were
2-0 ahead at Highbury, it all went wrong from there.
Also, when the team were crying out for goals against teams who we
played in that dodgy spell, he stuck with Adebayor and Saha, when
Defoe is often likely to get a goal out of nothing.
The way we played some of the away games (and a few at home) with
just Adebayor up front, played into the hands of some of our
opponents, allowing them more freedom to attack us instead of
concentrating on defending against a rampant Spurs side attacking on
The football that Harry produced with the team was very good and
played to the strengths of the side, but you always had the feeling
that there was a hint of over-cautiousness (for example, the City
away game last season), when we cold have gone for it, not without a
defensive plan, but the first half was very sterile and going a goal
up against them might have brought about a very different outcome.
Lacking the killer instinct in games we should have won and with the
manager not making point winning substitutions were another source
of frustration. Aston Villa away, when we were down to ten
men, but still pushing the home team back into their last third,
when Harry decided to make a change and brought on Parker for van
der Vaart in the 89th minute, with Defoe and Saha sitting on the
bench. Yes, one point is better than none, but this was
against a side whose own fans were demonstrating against their
manager and were having the worst home record in their history.
Redknapp instilled more consistency in the side, but there were
still games where we just didn't turn up (Norwich at home) and those
points counted come mid-May.
A new agent
Harry Redknapp's change of agent to Paul Stretford, a more "in your
face" agent according to some sources, was probably heading for a
confrontation with Daniel Levy over details of a new contract.
If it was to be his last as a manager, perhaps Harry thought he
needed someone strong to fight his corner ... or perhaps he knew
that his bargaining power had waned with the failure to finish
Whatever the reason, he might have been asking too much in a three
of four year deal, although he revealed that was not the case and
has since come out and said that thinks he would have been dismissed
even if Spurs had got into the Champions League.
So, if he was expecting it, then why did it come as a shock to him ?
The reasons behind the outcome of the meeting will only be clear
after a period of time has passed, but if the sort of patter out out
to the Press was tried with Levy, I doubt it will have cut little
Having been a master negotiator with player sales, I cannot imagine
that his approach for contracts is much different and while he seems
a cold, calculating chairman, he appears to do what is best for the
Whether this turns out to be so, that will be for hindsight to cast
a view on, but maybe there are other issues that we are not party to
that could have swayed Levy's decision.
New contract and affect on players
Interesting Harry took the alternative view on why Daniel Levy
should hurry up and give him a new deal.
Having told the world that the speculation over him becoming the
England manager had not affected his players, he suddenly decided
that the uncertainty over a new contract for him would unsettle
players who might decide to leave if he is not the manager any more.
Is this a genuine belief that the team are so reliant on him that
they will not be able to function without him ? And how did
they manage to perform while he was recuperating from his heart
surgery and while he was going through his court case ?
Sometimes, you wonder if Harry is starting to believe his own
(mostly self-generated) publicity.
Yes, he did a good job at Spurs and there will be few who can doubt
that on the evidence of our league placing, that he didn't do a good
job, but perhaps the punching above our weight had lead to the
expectation of third place and the eventual drop off might have
caused some (at a high level) to doubt Harry's ability to "take us
to the next level".
Use of the media
The Press boys love Harry. Always willing to give a sound-bite
and a columnist for the Sun, he is the media's darling. That
was why he had a lot of support to be the new England manager, as
the journos knew he would be media-friendly.
And his statements to the Press were always positive on the face of
it, but then, you found that little niggly comments were coming out
among them, leaving me, as a Spurs fan, uncertain as to how well
things were going behind the scene. The comments about their
relationship, such as "I suppose anyone who's working with Daniel
would make an odd couple" hinted that all was not right between
them, but then you have to get on with people you don't like at work
at all levels. Except Levy doesn't have to.
Levy is not one to go running to the press when things are good or
things are bad. He keeps his own counsel and makes his
decisions as "a very clever businessman" as Harry puts it.
Whether those business decisions pay off are always something that
time will tell, with Santini and Ramos being the down side, with
Harry and Martin Jol being the up side.
Maybe Daniel will have learned from his mistakes, while Harry needs
to do the same that he has made through the pages of the newspapers
and lenses of TV cameras.
Who is it all about ?
While there was often grudging admiration paid to what Daniel Levy
has done for the club, you always felt that what had happened was
more down to Harry Redknapp.
Sure, he was due the credit for moulding a bunch of players who had
fallen out with their coach, taking them from having "two points
from eight games" (as we were constantly reminded) to the fringes of
a top six finish and then into the Champions League. Nobody
can gainsay that Harry did well for us. But that was his job.
A lot of his time became the Harry Redknapp Show, with his view on
all and sundry taking precedence over anything else to do with
We all knew he travelled up from Poole on a regular basis, but he
knew where Tottenham was when he took the job. And does he not
think that normal people don't travel as far or as often for a job ?
The comments about poor performances referring back to other games
and how the team had played and how the fans were not appreciative
also upset a number of supporters.
Promoting how good Harry Redknapp wasn't always what Spurs
supporters wanted to hear from Harry Redknapp. His profile was
raised by managing Spurs and the club benefitted from his work with
the team. Whether his work with the team did not achieve the
target set for him last season (however unlucky in not qualifying
for the Champions League), it didn't seem to be Redknapp's fault.
Losing the precious third place when it looked for a fleeting moment
that we might actually challenge higher than that, may well be what
cost Harry his position, but a failure to acknowledge his part in
his own downfall might be what he might be more remembered for.
So now we have to look forward to a new
era and will it be David Moyes (no thanks), Roberto Martinez
(interesting but no top club experience), Laurent Blanc (touted for
the Man U job eventually), Andres Villas-Boas (at Chelsea at the
wrong time and could be an interesting appointment, but again
untested in PL), Ralf Rangnick (former Schalke boss who left because
he was exhausted managing a top club), Rafa Benitez (no thanks),
Fabio Capello (we got rid of Ramos because he couldn't speak
English, so why take on another manager with communication issues ?)
or Frank de Boer (another interesting option). Ideally,
perhaps Harry should have stayed for another year and then we could
have gone for Guardiola ;0)
Having missed out on who the papers claim would have been favourite
for the job - Brendan Rodgers - Spurs are then playing catch up.
Did Levy wait until some of the top jobs had been filled so Harry
had no options to jump straight into ? Maybe I am looking at
it too cynically and it was all just about timing.
But the structure seems about to change back to a head coach and a
Director of Football, with Tim Sherwood touted as the latter, having
control over the signing of young players and the youth set-up at
the club, with a mandate to bring in young players yet to reach
their prime and to develop our own youth team players through to the
Some of the candidates mentioned will be used to working such a
system, but Martinez turned down the Liverpool job as he wanted
control from top to bottom of the club.
Taking the decision to part ways with Redknapp was a brave one and
sometimes brave decisions pay off.
With the club looking at moving to their new training centre soon
and the works starting on the new ground at Northumberland Park this
summer, it is an exciting time for everyone involved with Spurs, but
with 56,000 seats to fill, it will need to be a change that pays
off, so it brings success, capacity crowds and most importantly, the
income to challenge at the top on a consistent basis.
Redknapp will be forever remembered as
the manager who took Spurs into the Champions League for the first
time and produced three good finishes in the Premier League with
some excellent football, but are the Spurs fans and board wrong to
want more ? Yes, we were perhaps doing better than expected
against teams with more financial pulling power, but we could have
Spurs had been in the top ten, but pushing on into the top four has
been "the next level" that is always being talked about and "the
next level" after that is top three or title challengers.
Will this change take us there ?
Or will it be another step back in our progress as has happened in
the past ?