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Football purist, realist and general sports fanatic. Interested in all aspects of the game, from all corners of the earth.

Monday, 19 January 2015

The Rotting Corpse of The Only Choice

"No why. Just here." - John Cage.

On the 8th of February, 2012, Harry Redknapp discovered what he was born to do in life. Just hours after successfully slipping away from a court case where he was accused of cheating the UK revenue system after receiving payments in a Monte Carlo based bank account from former Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric (if Ronseal did somewhat seedy financial dealings it would probably say that on the tin), news broke of Fabio Capello’s resignation as England manager. Fortune favours the bold.

Having hurdled over the obstacle of the Southwark Crown Court an innocent Harry was seen as the only candidate for the job. As England were going through the ‘indifference to foreigners’ stage of their managerial cycle, Redknapp, flying high with Tottenham, was regarded the ideal man to finally inject pride into the Three Lions.

Players were amongst the first to endorse the Londoner’s credentials; Wayne Rooney name-dropped him on Twitter while Rio Ferdinand called him his choice “by a distance”.

Alex Ferguson was in no doubt as to who was the best man for the job. “He has changed the fortunes of every club he has been at", said the Scot. Supporters of Portsmouth, now languishing in the bottom half of League Two, couldn’t argue with the factual accuracy of that statement.

While he initially insisted he couldn’t allow his focus to drift away from Spurs, Redknapp understandably admitted the role at the head of the national team was “the ultimate job for an Englishman”.

Equally as understandable was how he firmly believed the job was his; no other candidate was considered in the media. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers later spoke about how Redknapp “was obviously very confident - as was the nation - he was going to be offered the national team job”.

His hilarious, overt celebrations during his first game in the dugout after he was cleared, a 5-0 home victory over Newcastle, were as revealing as a resignation letter; his mind was on the England job, this was his farewell.

The FA hired Roy Hodgson as manager in May. Harry Redknapp the manager has been inching closer to death ever since.

The certainty he once fought to suppress was replaced by indignation.

"I wouldn't trust the FA to show me a good manager if their lives depended on it. This isn't about them giving the England job to me or Roy Hodgson, but English football being run by people who really haven't got a clue… Everyone said I was the people's choice, the only choice”.

Redknapp’s career since isn’t as much a career as a pilgrimage to a Nirvana of failure; a tumbleweed rolling across the desert, only the tumbleweed is in flames.

Immediately, everything he touched collapsed like a house of cards. Having bottled finishing above Arsenal for the first time in seventeen years, Spurs’ consolation prize of a Champions League spot was stolen by Chelsea’s Champions League success. Daniel Levy sacked him after Redknapp overplayed his hand while pushing for a new contract that summer.

His time at Queens Park Rangers has been littered with discontent in the stands. Fans raged when Redknapp waved to the Spurs’ faithful while losing 4-0 at the beginning of the season. His excuse was vintage ‘Arry; plead ignorance.

“I don’t know which punters are sitting up where, do I? Whether that’s the home fans or the away fans”.

The stadium was his home pitch for 4 years.

All great managers have the same brazen, grass-is-blue demeanor the QPR boss exudes. The difference between them and Redknapp however is they tend to display it when pressure comes onto their players; not themselves.

This is the reason Redknapp is never seen as a success or a failure; only a punchline.

On the field his nadir was QPR’s relegation in 2012. The London club’s demotion wasn’t even the most pathetic part of the ordeal; that belong to the insipid, flaccid goalless draw with Reading that sealed their fate. Both sides needed to win to maintain hope of staying in the division; neither could muster a goal.

His legacy will be seen in the transfer window, although the Londoner wont appreciate hearing that. He will be as synonymous with Transfer Deadline Day as the mischievous elfins surrounding reporters across the land.

Redknapp is a manager who in the past has selected two goalkeepers on the bench for an important league clash against Manchester City just days before the window shut; an attempt to draw even more money from the pocket of wealthy but equally inept chairman Tony Fernandes.

His search for the public’s pity (and transfer funds) is never-ending; this week he lamented that he only has two strikers at his disposal (Charlie Austin, Bobby Zamora, Mauro Zarate, Eduardo Vargas). The rest of his squad reads like a list of recycled goods; Rio Ferdinand, Richard Dunne, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Sandro.

What must puzzle ‘Arry is how it has come to this. He has changed very little over the last decade. He interacts with the press the same way; he’s as active in the market as ever. Redknapp is the same tactically nihilistic leader he was at White Hart Lane where transfer committee signings like Luka Modric and Gareth Bale elevated Spurs to the cusp of breaking into the Champions League.

Watching his demise, as sadistic as it sounds, is quite funny at times.

Redknapp wont see it that way. He must wonder why the best manager this generation of England players never had ended up at QPR. There is no why. He is just there.

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