Monday, April 30, 2012

Redknapp to Miss Out as England Manager

After three months of intensive speculation and scrutiny where every match was viewed as an extended audition for the England manager's post, the Football Association have announced that they have been granted permission by West Bromwich Albion to interview their manager, Roy Hodgson, for the England position.

So Harry Redknapp, the 'Darling of the Media', the 'people's Champion' and the players' favourite appears to have missed out on his 'dream' appointment and what he often described as an opportunity he would find difficult to turn down.  Harry Redknapp has become like Brian Clough in the 1970s, the manager everyone wanted in charge of England but the Football Association thought otherwise.

It seemed to be no co-incidence, back in February, that the Football Association arranged their crucial meeting with their former manager, Fabio Capello, for late in the day when Harry Redknbapp's court case would come to a conclusion.  Having failed to reach agreement with Capello over the John Terry captaincy issue, the manager's departure and the clamour from the media, players and public placed Redknapp in yet another spotlight with him the overwhelming favourite to take over the reins in time to lead the England team in this summer's Euro Championships in Poland and Ukraine.

The Football Association in what was seen as an attempt to avoid disrupting a club in mid-season waited in making any approach for the appointment and put Stuart Pearce in temporary charge.  There were, however, only two names thought likely to be under consideration - Harry Redknapp and Roy Hodgson.  Such was the focus on Redknapp that his every move and decision at Tottenham was questioned with regard to the England position.

Distraction to the Tottenham Season?
As time passed, Redknapp's position and his famed man-management skills started to take a hammering as the Spurs' form dipped and people queried his tactics and team selections.  Since the departure of Capello, Spurs' win over Blackburn Rovers was only their third success in eleven Premier League matches and there have been some unflattering results along the way.  Everything was great as Spurs thrashed Newcastle United in the immediate aftermath of the court case but then they failed to overcome League 1 team Stevenage in the FA Cup, needing a replay to progress.  Having taken a two goal lead before half-time against Arsenal, Spurs conceded twice before the interval and in the second half were unable to stem the flow against a revitalised home team.  This was followed by a 3 - 1 defeat against a lack-lustre Manchester United at White Hart Lane and so the results continued to slip and Spurs who in mid-February had seemed assured of a Champions League place had slipped to sixth ahead of the Blackburn match.  They also were humiliated in the FA Cup semi-final when Chelsea scored five at Wembley.  None of these results looked good on any hypothetical application for the England position.  Along with the results question arose concerning tactics, the preparation for matches, January transfer dealings at the club and player rotation which culminated in rumours of player dissatisfaction.  As time passed, the situation worsened for Redknapp with the possibility of managing England in the summer an obvious distraction for him and the club.

The West Ham Connection
While Harry Redknapp was considered to be the FA's favoured choice with their Chairman, David Bernstein, frequently photographed attending Spurs' matches or present at games which Redknapp was at as part of his Tottenham duties, there was no official comment on the position but it was known that there was one dissenting voice within the heriarchy at the Football Association, Sir Trevor Brooking.  From his time at West Ham United, he is no supporter of Harry Redknapp and may have been voicing disquiet at such an appointment and even, perhaps, favouring Roy Hodgson.  

The Long Drawn Out Process
The result of this lengthy process is that Roy Hodgson will probably become the new England manager in the not too distant future.  This appointment suits the FA as the cheaper option as Hodgson is out of contract at West Bromwich Albion in the summer with no compensation to be paid.  Tottenham would, however, have required payment for the release of Redknapp from his contract and Daniel Levy is well known for his difficult and protracted negotiations.

Spurs disappointing run since February would appear to have gone against Redknapp while Hodgson's difficulties at Liverpool have been overlooked.  Redknapp would have brought flair to an England team while Hodgson will provide a well organised team,  as he has done at Fulham and West Bromwich but will the experienced international players respond to this in the same way as a club side?  Hodgson's experience of international football and tournament play may have given him an advantage over Redknapp but if he doesn't bring some semblance of success to the team in the Euro2012, there will be complaints all round.

What of Tottenham?
Uncertainty has been the key-word at Tottenham for the past number of months.  It was considered almost a certainty that Redknapp would be off and tentative plans would have been put in place for his replacement.  There has been constant media speculation around players at the club - Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Kyle Walker would be on many clubs wanted list, while Aaron Lennon, Younes Kaboul, Sandro and Rafael Van der Vaart would attract interest if uncertainty continues at the club and especially if they fail to qualify for next season's Champions League competition.

Other players within the squad are nearing the end of their careers through age or with injury issues - both goalkeepers, Brad Friedel and Carlo Cudicini, are veterans while Ledley King and William Gallas both have injury issues and can not be relied on to play regularly.  The January transfer signings, Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen were only short-term options and have no future at the club.  Emmanuel Adebayor will probably be off as Spurs can not match his wage demands and Jermain Defoe is unhappy about his restricted opportunities.  There could be considerable scope for change at White Hart Lane during the summer but will Harry Redknapp be there to oversee it?  There have been suggestions that even if he didn't get the England post, that he would be on his way out in the summer - only time will tell.

The protracted period of waiting to replace Capello has worked well for the Football Association but Tottenham have come out of the process badly.  Their manager has been distracted or to put it into Redknapp footballing speak, 'he had his head turned' by the thought of managing his country and Spurs' season has fallen away as a consequence.  From a potential title challenge they slipped through the certainty of a third place finish and a guaranteed Champions League place to scrapping to hold fourth and the possibility of qualification as long as Chelsea fail to win the trophy next month.  

With three matches to go, Harry Redknapp and Spurs know what they need to do - set aside all distractions that have come about through speculation on the England manager's position and players' future plans and concentrate on winning the games at Bolton and Aston Villa and winning the final game of the season against Fulham at White Hart Lane.  


1 comment:

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