If this is what a modern day Tottenham Hotspur ‘crisis’ has become, I’ll take them all day long. They’re a damn sight less depressing than they used to be. In short, we’ve released a manager from his contract for failing to finish third (or higher) in the league, and ultimately costing us a second season in the lucrative Champions League. The tabloid press, armchair fans of all clubs and gooners alike have gone collectively bats**t. We, Tottenham fans, haven’t. “He’s as bad the Venky’s” they say, “kiss goodbye to your best players” they claim, “in Levy we trust” I retort. Are we really being lambasted for having ambition? Brilliant, I for one invite it. This summer was always going to be one of make or break for Tottenham, we have reached the proverbial glass ceiling, we need investment in the squad, not much, but in important positions. We have £40m worth of new training facilities to reap the rewards from, to set an infrastructure through. Sorry, I digress, focus is required, we’re a crisis club after all. So who is this piece for? What is this all about? In reality, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s a rallying cry to pessimistic yids, maybe it’s a lesson in reality for the aforementioned gloating fans of other clubs, some of both probably.
It all started so well; he came, he saw, he got more than 2 points from 8 games. The players were allowed to eat ketchup again and we didn’t get relegated. We started the next season as we finished the last, claiming fourth spot for the first time in the Premier League, earning us a place in the group stages of the Champions League should we teach Young Boys a lesson. We breathed fresh air into Europe that season, beating both teams from Milan, winning our group and finally running out of steam in our quarter-final against Real Madrid. Again, our league season came down to single Peter Crouch goal away at the Etihad, this time however, in the wrong goal, ensuring our fifth place finish and Europa League football. In his final season at the Lane, we again managed to finish fourth in the league, matching our previous best, but missing out on Champions League football. Most importantly, Redknapp oversaw three North-London derby wins, some glorious comebacks in a 3-3 and a 4-4, which is by far and away the best run of form I’ve seen us have against the scum in my lifetime. For all his work at the club, the results, the football, the occasional quote and the overwhelming success, a heartfelt thank you.
If anyone believes that this decision was made on entirely footballing grounds, they have a few more things to live and learn about the man that Harry Redknapp is.
But, that said, with reality replacing romanticism, he could have, and perhaps should have, achieved so much more. Too many times did we hear him say after a disappointing loss or draw that “it was just one of those days”, or how he “couldn’t have asked anymore from the players”. Too many times could dropped points be attributed to tactical ineptitude and lack of a plan b, and sadly sometimes, telling substitutes to “just go and f**king run about a bit” just didn’t cut it. Too many times did we see Gareth Bale waste himself through the middle, rather than using his abilities down the wing to play to his strengths. Too many times did we see the same team played through exhaustion, rotation apparently not a policy, even with players such as Sandro, Dos Santos, Defoe and Kranjkar sat on the bench. Too many players we saw allowed to go on loan, leaving our squad thin and options limited. Too many times Redknapp told us that a club “like Tottenham couldn’t ask for anymore” and how the fans were “idiots” for expecting more from him. Too many times did we hear him contradict the club precedent on transfer dealings, he was too often the “every player has his price” to Levy’s “f**k off Chelsea, gobble my goo”. Too many times did he make fanciful eyes at other clubs, the FA, and at his friends in the media. Too many times was the breaking news on Sky Sports that betting had been suspended on Redknapp’s departure, too often were we found questioning his loyalty. One too many court cases, one too many scummy agents signed with a history of underhand contract negotiation tactics, two too many Nintendo adverts and far too many interviews conducted from the driving seat of his car. If anyone believes that this decision was made on entirely footballing grounds, they have a few more things to live and learn about the man that Harry Redknapp is. But it could have been oh so different for him, offered a contract extension after his court case acquittal, he wasn’t interested in the slightest. But the second Hodgson was appointed England manager, Redknapp was suddenly interested in that extension again, funny that.
So why was he sacked? As my non-Spurs mate text me earlier “it all stinks a bit to me, he took you from the bottom of the table to the Champions League”. Well yes, he did. To fully explain, I feel an analogy is needed; we the fans, are the children, Redknapp the father, and Tottenham the mother, here we go: As parents, they seem brilliant. We’re only 4 years old, and from the second we were born they did a great job. But then it slowly dawned on us, Mum always hugged us, told us she loved us, did her best for us when the c**ty foreign kid moved in next door started trying it on with us and so on, but Dad never did any of that. I can’t remember him ever saying he loved us, telling us how well we’d done, denying that he wished the taller prettier kid down the road wasn’t his instead. But that doesn’t matter, he’s our Dad, and he’s doing a good job. But then, we start to notice that he’s coming home later from work every night, Mum doesn’t look at him the same way she used to, she wanted to renew their wedding vows but he said he had other things to do. Then he gets in trouble with the law, taxes they say, but Mum doesn’t mind, she’s there in the court everyday, giving her full support, and when he’s acquitted, for a brief second, it looked like the spark was back, but that night, the woman that Dad thought was the fittest Mum in playground broke up with her Italian boyfriend and said she was single, and suddenly we saw Dad’s eyes start to wander and Mum distance herself. He started paying less attention, all those fun times we were having were gone, he didn’t seem to have any time for us anymore and to make it worse the d**khead neighbour beat the s**t out of us one night and Dad didn’t know how to help. But then, he seemed to start trying a bit more again, I heard Mum on the phone to her friends saying it was just because the fit Mum had started to go out with someone new, and Dad had apparently come grovelling, offering to renew their vows again. He even got Mum a present, and promised to take her to all the nice places in Europe like they had the year before, but apparently he’d not paid the proper deposit and someone else was, rightly or wrongly, allowed their tickets. Dad said he’d done all he could, but Mum said he should’ve been able to get the better package if he’d paid more attention, which wouldn’t have needed a deposit, but that was now sold out so they had to settle for the consolation package, to all the places not as nice as the ones they could have gone to. Mum opened her eyes, and I think she realised they were other guys out there making moves for her, able to do a better job than perhaps Dad was doing, show her more love and ambition. She soon asked Dad to move out and filed the divorce papers. All Dad’s friends in the pub said mean things about Mum, and the kids at school didn’t seem to understand either, they all thought Dad was great and we should’ve been happy with what he was doing. But Mum said to ignore them, they didn’t know the whole truth about Dad, only some of it, she said to ignore the k**bhead down the road who was laughing at us for Dad moving out, she said they were sad and pathetic, who may have lived in a nice house, but it was hollow and soulless, and no-one would want to live a life like them. I understood, I even felt sorry for them. Hopefully that makes more sense to people who didn’t see it before, and hopefully they’ll now think twice before questioning Levy and the Tottenham fans that aren’t too upset or surprised by Harry’s exit. I wouldn’t put money on it though.
So to the future, onwards and upwards, who’s next? What’s next? Progression or failure? Are we finally embodying Bill Nich’s famous words, are we finally aiming high, refusing to succeed aiming low? I really do hope so. With the right manager, the right signings, the odd bit of selling on of deadwood and Levy at his best, we’ve got more than a chance to build on what we’ve achieved under Redknapp. I can’t promise success, I can’t pretend to say that I’m not slightly uneasy about the way we’re going to progress, but I will say this; no one man will ever be bigger than the club, and as long as I live, if there’s a club in London N17 playing football the right way in glorious lilywhite, no matter the league, no matter the owner, no matter the playing staff, they will always have my support.