Harry Redknapp: England’s ‘Special One’?

Opinion seems to be split on old ‘Arry Redknapp, a lot of people love him, but you always get a few that don’t. This isn’t just the fans you would think, i.e Southampton and West Ham fans, I have even heard Spurs fans refer to him as ‘that twitchy ****’, which is a strange outlook for such a seemingly likeable character, especially when he is the manager of your team. Most football fans seem to be screaming for Redknapp to be the next England manager and maybe he will be, despite Daniel Levy distancing Redknapp from such suggestions. 

Redknapp is a bit of a character; an old-school straight-talking Eastender, who likes a joke, hates technology and sees football like a fan. I remember asking him about twitter and he claimed not to know what it was, he said he didn’t even have a computer and has never sent an email! Give this man a phone to call people on and he is as happy as a pig in sh!t. It is this very unique personality that gives Harry Redknapp that ‘X-Factor’ and makes him one of the most highly regarded managers this country currently has. Redknapp has always been depicted as the ‘Del Boy’ of the football management world, known as a wheeler-dealer, a label that gets right up his nose! He has even been described as ‘Mike Bassett with a brain’, but then again that did come from an Arsenal fan and that Arsenal fan was Piers Morgan…nuff said.

We all know Harry has his downsides; the a rather worrying tax evasion court case heading his way in the New Year is one, whilst Harry has long been linked with receiving the odd ‘brown envelope’ over transfer deals here and there over the years. I remember speaking to one football agent who knows Harry well, who told me they thought Redknapp was a ‘fantastic coach, but a crook’. His business interests outside of football have come in to question, in August the actions of his property development company were described as putting ‘profit before people’s lives’ in a row over social housing. 

A far greater concern than a few councillors with their noses out of joint, is the tax evasion court case. Redknapp and Milan Mandaric face two charges of cheating the public revenue contrary to common law. If found guilty Redknapp could face an unlimited fine or prison sentence that will be at a judges discretion. This will affect his position in the running for England manager, the same way John Terry’s private life indiscretions have affected his position previously as England captain – good news for Spurs fans. 

Enough negative about Harry, because this is not what makes him special. As the unnamed football agent said, he is a fantastic coach and more so an even better man manager, which is what makes him such a stand-out candidate for England. The England managers position in my opinion is a poisoned challis; you could be the best coach in the world, but you don’t have the time for this to matter in international football, it is all about motivating the troops and when it comes to motivating, they don’t come any better than Harry. 

Redknapp seems to understand what makes people tick; he puts an arm round you and gives you a cuddle when you need it, he isn’t afraid to wobble his jowl’s at you in a fit of rage when you need a kick up the arse and he loves to tell players how good they are to give them the belief they need. He can motivate a player like no other and when he has players at his disposal with not only the ability, but the belief, then special things can happen – maybe like what we are seeing with Spurs this season.

Only last week Redknapp took the plaudits when his Spurs side were DEFEATED by Stoke (and a referee), simply because he showed he is not afraid to try new things as a half-time formation switch got Spurs back in to the game. To many, this show of tactical nouse only went to further his suitability for the England job, even if that does sound as over-the-top to you as it does to me. The thing that has really impressed me about Redknapp is how he had built the Spurs side in to an amazingly well-balanced team, they seem to fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw. He reignited the career of Gareth Bale and helped forge him in to one of the best wide players in the world. He has managed to control personalities like Van der Vaart and Adebayor and get the best out of them, he has made inspired signings like Friedel and Parker; Redknapp knows what Spurs need and has bought the feel-good factor back at Spurs. 

When you look at Harry’s managerial career, it isn’t that glamourous. He has managed Bournemouth, West Ham, Portsmouth twice, Southampton and Spurs and his best win percentage has been with Tottenham at 50%, with a career average of 40%. To put that in perspective; Alex Ferguson has a career average of 57%, Arsene Wenger 53%, Kenny Dalglish 54%, Jose Mourinho 68% and Fabio Capello 56% – in saying that, none of those managers have had a career anywhere as tough as Redknapp has had. 

Finally with Tottenham, Harry Redknapp has been able to be compared to such managerial names as he now has a platform worthy enough of showcasing his talents in full. He has done well in short spells at other clubs, but at Tottenham he has changed them in to title challengers, would he have been considered for England had he not managed Spurs? Well maybe, as Sam Allardyce was (managerial win percentage also 40%), but you get my point; Spurs has taken Harry to the next level as much as he has taken Spurs there. 

It will be interesting to see just how far Redknapp takes Spurs this season, he has managed expectations well throughout his time at Spurs and he is now confident Spurs can challenge for the title. He has already started tongues wagging after saying Spurs will be looking for that ‘special player’ in January, but his court case is kicking off on the 23rd of January which may dampen the mood. The start of 2012 will not on be big for Tottenham Hotspur in their quest for honours this season, it will be huge for Redknapp and the future of his managerial career. Triffic.

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