Friday, June 15, 2012

Redknapp - From Prospective England Manager to Jobless

In four months Harry Redknapp has gone from being the hot favourite for the England manager's position to being jobless following his departure from Tottenham.  How could things have turned around so quickly?

Timetable for Redknapp's Demise at White Hart Lane
8th February:
When Harry Redknapp stood on the steps of Southwark Crown Court he was a relieved man having been cleared of all charges of tax evasion.  It had been a harrowing thirteen days for him as he juggled his responsibilities at Spurs with attendance at court.  All seemed well in his world - he had received the backing of the club throughout the trial and had been shown fantastic support by Spurs fans at White Hart Lane in the match against Wigan Athletic.  With Spurs third in the Premier League, seven points ahead of Chelsea in fourth and ten points clear of fifth placed Arsenal, everything looked good.

A few hours later, a decision would be made that was to turn his world around and would be part of the reason for his departure from Spurs four months later.  At the Football Association headquarters, following a meeting with Fabio Capello, the England manager's position became vacant and Redknapp was immediately installed as the 'people's and media's favourite'.  It was well known that Redknapp was keen to take the England position and it seemed to be only a matter of time before he would be approached.

Saturday, 11th February:
There was an out-pouring of emotional support for Harry Redknapp at White Hart Lane as fans put across the message that they didn't want him to leave for the England post.  The players responded in kind and Spurs put in one of their best performances of the season against Newcastle United.  Spurs were four ahead by half-time with Emmanuel Adebayor creating all of them.  He scored the fifth himself and it seemed that everything that Redknapp touched would turn to gold.  

Sunday, 19th February:
Following the previous week's euphoria, Spurs landed at Stevenage in the FA Cup with a bump and a scoreless draw.  In a less than satisfactory performance Spurs struggled against the Division One side, seeming to have no clear plan of attack, having focused solely on stopping the hard working lower League team.  As Redknapp admitted afterwards it wasn't a very good performance to put on his CV in front of the watching David Bernstein, the FA Chairman.

Sunday, 26th February: 
At approximately 2.04 pm at the Emirates as Emmanuel Adebayor scored from the penalty spot to give Spurs a two goal advantage in the north London derby, Spurs, in theory, were thirteen points clear of Arsenal and looked set to strengthen their hold on third place and the Champions League qualification that meant so much to the club and had been the number one priority for Harry Redknapp throughout the season.  Within nine minutes that had crumbled as Arsenal drew level and Spurs had no second half response as the home team went on to score three more goals.  The gap between third and fourth was now down to seven points.

Still, there was no decision regarding the England appointment as the Football Association made the apparently sensible option of delaying any announcement until nearer the end of the season to avoid unnecessary disruption at any club.  Stuart Pearce took the role on a temporary basis for the friendly against Holland.  Redknapp, however, was still regarded as favourite.

March, 2012:
Spurs went through the month without a Premier League win, losing at home to Manchester United, at Everton and drawing with Stoke City and at Chelsea.  In fact the home draw with Stoke saw them drop to fourth, a point behind their near neighbours.  Spurs' slump in form took them into a battle for fourth place when in mid-January they had been considered title contenders, only three points behind leaders Manchester City and level with United.

The FA Cup now acquired greater significance for Redknapp as he sought silverware to bring to the club.  Previously, he had always regarded the Cup competitions as a distraction and often fielded under-strength teams.  Stuttering progress was made to the semi-finals where Chelsea awaited.

The England position still remained on the cards with only passing mention of any other possible candidates, Roy Hodgson, in the media.  It still appeared to be Redknapp's with Tottenham making contingency plans for his departure.

1st April:
Spurs ended their run of defeats with success over Swansea at home - perhaps the team had turned the corner.

7th April:
Arsenal's defeat to QPR the previous weekend had given Spurs a lifeline and they briefly returned to third with a goalless draw at Sunderland but it was a particularly uninspiring performance as they were unable to break down the home side who had been set up to defend in depth and were content with a point from the outset.  It was a return to the days when Spurs simply ran out of ideas against a well organised, defensive orientated team.  The rumblings of discontent among fans were growing as they despaired at the team's loss of form and the manager's inability to turn it around and then Arsenal defeat Manchester City to reclaim fourth - nothing was going in Spurs' favour at this time.

9th April:
A home defeat to Norwich added to the general gloom around White Hart Lane - these sort of results happen to every team during a season but Spurs were totally outplayed by the visitors who deservedly took the three points.  Frustrations were increasing among fans with many venting their anger against the manager on message boards.  There was talk of players' meetings to try to sort out the problems and talk of their dissatisfaction with training routines, at lack of preparation and tactics.

15th April:
Another semi-final loss in the FA Cup, another 2 - 5 defeat as Spurs again crumbled to Chelsea who admittedly were aided by the referee's decision to award them the second crucial goal just after half time when the ball hadn't crossed the line.  The team that had been lauded earlier in the season for playing the best football since the 'Double' team were a pale shadow for their former selves.  Fans' dissatisfaction was growing by the day.

21st April:
Spurs had been provided with another opportunity to close the gap on third as Arsenal lost to Wigan Athletic and then drew with Chelsea but they dropped to fifth after a single goal defeat against relegation threatened QPR as Newcastle United moved above them.  It was another poor performance and left fans infuriated at the use of Gareth Bale on the right and Aaron Lennon on the left.  It again led to cries of " Gareth Bale - He plays on the left" and "Aaron Lennon - He plays on the right".

Even at this stage the press was still predicting that Redknapp would soon be announced as the next England manager.

1st May:
The Football Association announced that Roy Hodgson had been given a four year contract as England manager and that he had been their preferred candidate and the only person who had been interviewed.  Redknapp accepted the news graciously, as always, but must have felt great disappointment as he knew it was his last opportunity to manage his country, a position he had set his heart on.

Tottenham had been resigned to losing him and some had suggested, even before the FA's announcement, that regardless of what happened over the England position that Redknapp would be leaving Spurs in the summer.  Spurs' season had taken a dramatic turn as soon as the departure of Fabio Capello was announced with many feeling that the constant media questions about England had been a distraction for Redknapp.

With four matches to go Spurs needed maximum points to have any chance of playing Champions League football next season.  They defeated Blackburnn Rovers at the end of April and the win over Bolton Wanderers was a display more akin to their early season form.  They then needed to win at Villa Park, their fourth successive match against a team concerned about possible relegation.

6th May:
A win would see Spurs move into third with a Champions League place in their own hands.  Spurs were the better team but Aston Villa defended as if their Premier League lives depended on it, which they did.  in a rare home attack, Villa went ahead when a shot deflected off William Gallas and looped over Brad Friedel.  A goal down at half-time, Spurs then went down to ten men when Danny Rose was sent off.  They regrouped to equalise with just under half and hour remaining but Redknapp appeared indecisive on the touchline, looking to bring on Jermain Defoe, then deciding against it and once he knew that Newcastle had lost, he appeared to settle for a point, leaving Spurs dependent on other results going in their favour on the last day of the season.  Redknapp's acceptance of a draw against a poor Villa team seemed a very negative approach at such a crucial part of the season, when many other managers would have gone all out for the three points.

13th May:
Spurs won their final match against Fulham but Arsenal defeated Roy Hodgson's West Bromwich, courtesy of two goals gifted by former Tottenham goalkeeper, Marton Fulop.  Arsenal claimed third and for this season fourth did not guarantee Spurs Champions League football due to Chelsea's late season revival taking them to the final of this season's competition.

19th May:
Bayern Munich conceded a late equaliser, missed an extra time penalty and as Didier Drogba scored the crucial penalty in the shoot-out Chelsea claimed England's fourth Champions League place as holders, demoting Spurs to the Europa League, a competition for which Redknapp showed such disdain that he consistently sent out weakened teams and regularly talked it down in the press.

Spurs' season which at it's mid-point had the potential to become of the most memorable in recent times, had tailed off alarmingly and disappointingly.  Redknapp appeared to have lost the support of a section of supporters, there had been talk of disquiet among the players and the Board seemed less than enthusiastic about extending his contract.

For some time, Daniel Levy had been in America due to family commitments and there seemed to be little news coming out of White Hart Lane.  There were matters to be decided over current and potential players and Harry Redknapp's contract which had only one year to run.  It was thought that he had been offered a rolling contract but that didn't satisfy his needs and there were rumours that Chelsea were interested in taking him as manager ahead of Roberto Di Matteo.

June, 2012:
On the day of the funeral of Daniel Levy's mother, Harry Redknapp made media comments about the need for Tottenham to sort out his contract.  He raised the issue of the uncertainty for the players next season, knowing that the manager was in the last year of his contract having previously stated that the speculation over the England position had no effect on players, 'They don't care who's manager'.

10th June:
For the first time, a story appeared in the press that all was not well at Tottenham concerning the manager's contract and the uneasy relationship between manager and Chairman.  Discussions were due to take place and if not resolved could lead to Redknapp leaving the club.

12th June:
Following rumours circulating on Twitter that Harry Redknapp had resigned, Redknapp, himself, came out and made a very strong denial that he had resigned having a year to run on his contract, describing such comments as 'scandalous'.

13th June:
The meeting between Harry Redknapp and Daniel Levy did not reach agreement over the contract and news broke that the manager would be leaving Tottenham after three and a half years as manager.

14th June:
Tottenham issued a statement on their website at 3.37am to confirm what everyone already knew by announcing that Harry Redknapp would be leaving his post as manager of  Tottenham Hotspur. 

Many Spurs supporters were not surprised at the developments, aware that it had been a possibility for some time.  In the wider football world there was shock that a manager who had twice taken Spurs to fourth in three seasons had been removed.

A few hours later, Roy Hodgson who had beaten Redknapp to the England post and whose team's defeat in the final match of the season had seen Spurs miss out on Champions League football, spoke of his disappointment that Redknapp had departed Tottenham.

In four short months, Redknapp had gone from potential England manager, a position he openly craved, to an unemployed manager albeit with a handsome severance package to soften the blow.  The only question that remains is, Will Harry be back in football before or after Tottenham appoint his replacement?  Only time will tell.


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