By Jack Briden,
In an era when it would seem that the job of being a football manager is about as safe as a Greek bank account, it feels almost strange that one man in particular is being fought over by both club and country. That man is Harry Redknapp, current manager of Tottenham Hotspur FC and bookie’s favourite to take over the infamous role of managing the England national team this summer.
With a career that has seen Redknapp lead Portsmouth to an FA Cup final victory in 2008, take Spurs to dizzying new heights, including their thrilling Champions league run last season, and win various individual accolades including a Premier League Manager of the Year award for the 2009-10 season, it comes as no surprise that ‘Arry, as he is affectionately known, has been linked to becoming Fabio Capello’s successor.
The thought of having a well respected English candidate at all will have England fans far and wide eager for a decision to be made before the European Championship tournament in Poland and the Ukraine in June. But this is not a job for the faint-hearted. Past managers to sit in the hot-seat have experienced a rocky relationship with the British press and English fans are none too forgiving either.
In a country that has spawned such greats as David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney, expectation is always going to be high. But great players cannot win trophies on their own. They need to be given direction from somewhere and a lot of pressure is applied to those given that responsibility. So the big question is whether or not Harry is capable of doing a job.
There is no doubt that he is liked by the public, and despite recent allegations of tax evasion that he was subsequently cleared of, his relationship with the press has always been positive. With that in mind, it would seem that if the current Spurs manager does turn out to be the successful candidate and Daniel Levy agrees to let the FA buy out the remainder of his contract, then Harry is pretty much set to fill Capello’s old shoes.
However, not everybody will be keen to see the arrival of Mr. Redknapp should he choose to take the England job at the end of the season. With Tottenham sitting reasonably comfortably in third spot in the Barclays Premier League and looking at an FA Cup quarter-final place should they beat Stevenage at White Hart Lane on Wednesday, many English Spurs fans will regard his departure as something bitter-sweet.
From an England supporter’s point of view, with him being such a strong man-manager (a quality that is almost certainly needed in the England changing room), Redknapp’s appointment would be ideal, but I would put my life savings on the fact that nearly every single Spurs fan would be sad to see him leave the North London club. Some have questioned whether his exit would cause a change in dynamic at Spurs which could arguably lead to them falling back into their old ways and struggling to qualify for the Champions League.
Yet, there have been some doubts as to whether he is ready to take the international stage. Jonathan Wilson, a writer for The Guardian wrote that he was unsure of Redknapp’s capabilities to take on greater oppositions. He said that the arrival of the Londoner would ‘inspire a short-term jolt of optimism… that may bring impressive results against lesser opposition’.
Wilson also argues that Spurs’ failure to beat the likes of both Manchester teams, who sit directly above them in the Premiership, and their poor form against Real Madrid in the Champions League last year, raises the alarm that maybe Harry is not cut out to beat the big teams on the big stage. Maybe that would be something for FA chairman David Bernstein to consider in his next meeting with the England board.
The next obvious question would then be who would fill the managerial role at Tottenham? Having a new status as a side that is capable of regularly competing for a Champions League place, Spurs will not settle for just anyone.
Murmurs of José Mourinho’s unsettled condition at Real Madrid and sightings of him looking for houses in London have sparked excitement amongst fans. But the recent sacking of Andre Villas Boas and the opening of a position at Stamford Bridge puts the possible arrival of ‘The Special One’ to White Hart Lane in some kind of doubt. From a managerial perspective, the end of the season looks as though it could be very interesting.