Why England Would Be Wrong To Appoint Harry Redknapp
113 places separate England and Wales in the FIFA rankings. According to statistics, England are the fourth best team in the world; Wales 117. They looked a shadow of that when they came up against Gary Speed and co. playing out a lacklustre 1-0 win in…
113 places separate England and Wales in the FIFA rankings. According to statistics, England are the fourth best team in the world; Wales 117. They looked a shadow of that when they came up against Gary Speed and co. playing out a lacklustre 1-0 win in a match that the Dragons often outplayed the Three Lions.
An Ashley Young winner, 35 minutes into the game, was scant consolation in the first half with Wales keeping the ball effectively and, at times, utilising it efficiently. It could, and perhaps would, have been so much different had Robert Earnshaw managed to hit the target 15 minutes from time but instead of hitting the back of the net, the Cardiff City forward managed to miss from six-yards out when it was easier to score.
The performance, as disappointing and dreary as it was, still meant three points for England took them to within one point of qualification for Euro 2012, a draw against group rivals Montenegro next month will see them advance as group winners. In all fairness, looking at the group, England should be winning the group with relative ease so it is hardly surprising to see them leading the pack.
But, have they really looked like they deserve it? A good team wins their home games; a great team wins their away ones. England have done exactly the opposite in fact, picking up maximum points on the road but failing to obtain victories at home to Montenegro and Switzerland, both culminating in 0-0 and 2-2 draws, respectively. In the aftermath of the Wales encounter, much was made about the ‘curse of Wembley’ and the fear players have about performing in front of a home crowd.
And it was this result that saw current incumbent Fabio Capello heavily linked with an exit away from the national job with the FA’s patience reportedly worn all the way through with the Italian. Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp has been heavily linked with the role that Capello will step-down from next summer and many were calling for him to be given the role following the countries dismal display in South Africa last year.
However, while many feel he is the natural successor to the role, some believe his appointment may be a curse rather than a gift. Barring his stint at Southampton, Redknapp has always been able to get the best out of his players no matter what club he has been at. Tottenham offered him the opportunity to test his wits on the highest level, after at times overachieving at smaller teams. With Spurs, however, he was presented with the chance to take a team onto the next level along with his own managerial skills.
To say he has been a success with the North London side could be perceived as an understatement, staving off relegation after the much publicised ‘2 points from 8 games’ scenario before guiding them to a first top four finish in their history and a quarter-final finish in their maiden Champions League campaign. Ultimately, Spurs finished fifth that same year and now find themselves challenging in the Europa League.
This is where the cracks have begun to show. Redknapp, at the end of last season and after missing out on back-to-back fourth place finishes, claimed that this was ‘as good as it’s gonna get’ despite finishing one place higher less than 12 months previously. Many fans were left scratching their heads following the remarks and that is when the questions began to be asked. Was a fifth placed finish as good as it is going to get from now on? Surely, such statements will do little to convince the clubs top stars that their future is at White Hart Lane.
It is no surprise then that Luka Modric asked for a move away from the club after his remarks, especially since they showed a complete lack of ambition from the clubs perspective. This is where it started to go bad for Redknapp, he may be good as a man manager and a darling for the media but his choice of words would have hardly struck confidence into the hearts of the players. It’s shocking that maybe Gareth Bale or Rafael Van der Vaart didn’t ask to move following his statement seeing as they are players that would fancy their chances on the grandest of stages and deserve to be winning trophies, not settle for second place.
This leads me nicely on to my second point; Redknapp has already admitted that the entire Modric saga meant this season’s pre-season was the worst in his history of a manager. Naturally, when your best player wants to leave, it is going to affect any manager be them Sir Alex Ferguson or Roberto Martinez. But, by being the media sweetheart that he is, Redknapp continued to blow smoke from the Modric rumours at every possible opportunity despite chairman Daniel Levy attempting to dampen the flames in order for the player to focus on the football.
Reports of a falling out between the two may be a bit far-fetched but you can see where the rumours are coming from. If an employee was continuously undermining his boss with his ummming and aaaaahing over one player, the employer would be less than happy come the end of the day. But that is exactly what Redknapp continued to do over the course of the summer, often bringing all the added pressure upon himself and even though Levy may be putting up with it, for now, it is highly unlikely that David Bernstein, chairman of the FA, would put up with any such behaviour.
Referring back to my previous point on the Modric saga leaving a lasting effect on pre-season, evident on the Manchester United a City results, if one player doesn’t fancy playing at the time, it clearly shows that in can affect the whole dressing room. Redknapp failed to control the situation in a way that better managers would have done. When it comes to England, he is going to be dealing with a dressing room full of players that find it difficult to perform at home and if he can’t get one player with his head on the game, how is he going to get a team of 30 or so players with the same problem, and an ego to match, to perform to the expectation of an entire nation?
Managing a Spurs side with sky high expectations are one thing but when the press and fans are on your back 24/7, it is a lot harder than managing a side that were ranked as the 11th best side in Europe last year in comparison to a nation that is 4th in the world. Does Redknapp have the mental capacity to handle the heightened expectations from club football to international football? I doubt it, he struggled to keep the want-away Modric happy at Spurs and his latest remarks regarding Rafael Van der Vaart, who was angry at not being included in the club’s Europa League squad this side of 2011, are unlikely to improve the relationship between the two.
Van der Vaart can be considered an influential, yet outspoken, member of the Spurs squad, something Spurs seems to lack which can be identified as a good thing. However, with England, he is going to have to put up with serial Tweeter Rio Ferdinand, who will happily share his thoughts on the social networking sites, while the likes of Ashley Cole, Wayne Rooney and John Terry or only happy to discuss their thoughts on the England camp to the press, something Redknapp may not have been used to in his past experiences as a manager. If he wants to succeed as the national team boss, he has to nip those who speak out of term in the bud but, not in the same way he did with Van der Vaart heaping the pressure onto the player and keeping the spotlight firmly off his back.
This pressure will only worsen the performances at Wembley where the players seem afraid to showcase their abilities to the full potential and instead of thriving off the fans; they appear to cower away from them. This is something that Redknapp is genuinely good at making him a great man manager, his ability to get the best out of the worst players is a talent that surely stands him in good stead for the role. However, as I previously mentioned, club football and national football are two completely different ball games and the Spurs manager runs the massive risk of it causing an opposite effect on the England players.
A risk of divide in the England dressing room that Redknapp may be unable to control comes in the next point; tactically, he isn’t great. The Spurs manager is great at turning fortunes around at club level. With Portsmouth, he turned them from relegation candidates to FA Cup winners and with Spurs, they were bottom when he took over before guiding them to a respectable 8th followed by a 4th place finish. But, now he is rubbing shoulders with the big boys of the Premier League, he doesn’t know where to turn next.
When the cards are stacked against him, Redknapp is a mastermind at turning a tie back in his favour which usually involves the inclusion of an attack-minded midfielder or striker. It worked when Spurs were in the hunt for 4th place in 2010 and luckily for the former Portsmouth manager, Roman Pavlyuchenko just happened to find his scoring boots at the right time. However, last season showed fans the real Redknapp and his inability to manage at the top level and take the club one-step forward.
In reality, Spurs took a sideways step compared to the giant leap they took the year before and following the top four finish, fans understandably wanted more from the team. When they were under-performing, they got on the players back only for Redknapp to lambast the fans who criticised the squad and call them ‘idiots’. Gobsmacked Spurs fans were left flabbergasted about the choice of words from the manager and instead of criticising the squad, the White Hart Lane faithful chose to vent their frustration on the manager.
Perhaps a ploy by Redknapp to help shoulder the pressure that was being heaped on the players but the worst thing to do as a manager, or player for that fact, is to criticise the fans. Rooney was on the receiving end of abuse from the England supporters following the 0-0 draw with Algeria at the World Cup last year by saying “Nice to hear your own fans booing you, you football ‘supporters’” to the camera while walking off the pitch to a chorus of boos. If Redknapp were to take the same approach with the fans, the repercussions would be even worse than that of Rooney as his sarcastic post-match comments.
Finally, an apparent impending court case for Redknapp will likely hinder his chances of becoming the new England manager but the above reasons are easily enough as to why Redknapp shouldn’t be the man to take the reins from Capello when his contract expires next summer. But, he still sits as overwhelming 4/5 favourite to succeed the Italian following the Euro 2012 tournament and chances are, with his Spurs contract expiring next summer, Levy is unlikely to stand in his way should the FA come knocking on the White Hart Lane door in the foreseeable future.
Submitted by Football Friends
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