I’ve never been the biggest fan of Harry Redknapp on a personal level, although having never met the man, I guess my opinion is rather limited. What I mean though, is from the way he has conducted himself over a long career in management, I don’t think his heart is really in the right place. I wouldn’t want him managing my club anyway, and I’d be surprised if there weren’t a few Tottenham fans having second thoughts about him after what he has said today.
Sky Sports News reports that Harry has confirmed that should Spurs be relegated, he would walk away from the club that he only joined in October. There is no direct quote from Redknapp that contains the words ‘I’d leave if we’re relegated’ but the story’s opening paragraph makes it quite clear:
“Harry Redknapp has admitted he would walk away from Tottenham Hotspur if the club were relegated from the Premier League.”
– Sky Sports News.
To me this seems altogether ridiculous, and for Tottenham’s fans, surely unacceptable, given that Redknapp was appointed by Spurs with the express aim of keeping them in the Premiership, after what can only be described as a calamitous start to their season under Juande Ramos. Of course, they cannot demand that Harry stays with the club if the do go down, but given the circumstances of his arrival, one might think that he would have something of an obligation to remain with the club that he failed.
At the very least, if I were a Tottenham fan, I would want Redknapp to remain in charge at least for a season to have a crack at bringing Spurs straight back up from the Championship. Given that his job description probably went along the lines of “Doing all that is necessary to keep Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League”, Spurs fans would rightly feel let down if he both failed in that objective and then immediately jumped ship.
Indeed, for any manager with an ounce of ambition or pride, I would expect them to want to stay on and put right what went wrong, in their slipping to the Championship. I think it would be a matter of honour on Harry’s part if he were to say “Look, this isn’t where I want to be but I have to accept some responsibility for the situation and will do everything I can to put things right.” That would be an incredibly admirable thing to do. As it is though, Redknapp has as good as branded himself as a quitter.
Further than that though, he has also shown himself to be an incredibly selfish man. If Spurs are relegated at the end of the season, he will simply jump ship and look for a new top flight post, and he’s bound to be offered one, given his past acheivments, reputation, and the frequent availability of managerial positions in the Premier League. Indeed, he could probably sign a pre-contract with Newcastle (or, dare I even think it, Portsmouth) now.
It shows a tremendous disregard for the club and the fans of that club who have put so much faith in him. The fans, if their club gets relegated could not simply think, ‘right, well let’s all support Arsenal instead then’. It’s not that simple. Football demands that you make an investment to your club, and you stick with them. Obviously no one is expecting managers to be as loyal as fans, but given that he has a contract and a specific purpose, I think it would be incredibly poor form on his part to jump from a sinking ship.
It also leads one to question the reason for Redknapp to have joined Tottenham in the first place. It is fair to say that in Portsmouth, the cockney had found a club where he was comfortable. He was popular with the clubs fans and board, was in the process of building a very promising team and seemed to be very happy on the south coast. Still, when Tottenham came knocking, it was understandable that he could leave. He is a Londoner, and one can’t begrudge a man his home comforts, but also Tottenham are, in terms of history and tradition, a bigger club that Pompey.
Yet, now it looks like Redknapp may have abandoned Fratton Park for less acceptable reasons. If, as it seems, Redknapp cares not a jot for Spurs, and would be ready and willing to move on immediately should they slip out of England’s top league, then it looks as if Redknapp may in fact have been enticed there by money. It’s clear that Portsmouth are in financial trouble, and have had to sell off their stars, but it is just as clear that Tottenham are, and have been for some time, rather wealthy.
They continue to spend heavily in the transfer windows in an as yet fruitless attempt to buy success. It seems entirely probable to me then, that Harry Redknapp was drawn to White Hart lane, not out of a desire to build and establish successful team there, but by the dangling of the proverbial carrot. I feel certain that Redknapp will have been offered a hugely improved salary and tempted with a lucrative ‘Premier League Survival Bonus’, and that may well explain how the negotiations went so swimmingly and took so little time (if you remember back, Ramos was gone and Redknapp was in before you could say “Pavlyuchenko”).
Of course, Tottenham will have known back then that, should the tragic occur and they find themselves in the Championship, budgets would have to be cut, and the lucrative spending reigned in. I would therefore be relatively certain too, that Redknapp’s contract would contain a ‘Relegation Wage Reduction’ clause, and that may have played a large part in the comments made by him today. Because let’s face it, Premier League clubs will certainly pay larger salaries than a club recently relegated to the Championship.
Of course, Tottenham lie 12th in the table, four points clear of the relegation zone. It’s not an enormous cushion and they are by no means safe yet, but at this point I would confidently expect Spurs to avoid the drop. Their form has been up and down but generally, they’ve had a reasonably steady stream of points coming in, and the returning Robbie Keane has inspired their most recent performances. So it seems that Harry probably won’t be forced to jump ship after all. But is that going to keep Tottenham fans happy?
If I were a Spurs fan, I would not be best pleased with Harry’s comments. I think it shows rather a lack of commitment to the club and certainly shows him to be a rather selfish manager who appears to be in it for the personal game. What is it to him if Spurs continue to flirt with relegation, so long as the pat packets keep rolling in, fat and full? And if the worst comes to the worst, he can just leave, and find a new club to mooch off. No, if I were a Spurs fan I would want a manager with more ambition. A manager with a vision, a dream of building something great at Spurs.
They are a big club and they have a lot of money. It is the sort of club where, given the right manager, they could steadily establish themselves as a really top club in the English game, in a manner similar to which Everton and Aston Villa are currently doing. But with today’s comments, Redknapp has shown Spurs fans that he is not the right man for that job. He has shown them that he does not have the long term prospects of Tottenham on his list of priorities. That being the case, I would actually be thinking twice about whether I would want him to remain at my club at all, regardless of which league they are in next season.
Look out Harry, that big mouth of yours may have gotten you in trouble at last. You could have some irate Spurs fans on your heels, not to mention a chairman who is more than practiced at swinging the managerial axe. And despite my previous criticism’s of Daniel Levy’s somewhat ‘fluid’ managerial policies, I think that in light of Redknapp’s latest comments, he would be justified, and perhaps wise, to swing that axe once more.