TEAMtalk guest Matt Stead blasts Harry Redknapp and picks out several shortcomings which suggest he may not be the right man for England.
Three months is a long time in football. Three months ago Champions League and FA Cup finalists Chelsea were an aging team on the verge of capitulation instigated from within. Three months ago Manchester City had a three-point gap at the Premier League's summit and were looking in imperious form in the title-race. Three months ago Wayne Rooney's hairdresser was on the verge of redundancy!
Fast forward three months and these scenarios have all undergone a dramatic reversal. However, the most dramatic must be the recent demise of Tottenham and Harry Redknapp.
Hark back to January. Spurs, the perennial 'nearly' team, were apparently embroiled in a pulsating three-way tussle for the Premier League title. Harbouring the explosive and much-coveted talents of Welsh wing wizard Gareth Bale, the efficient workmanlike ethos of midfield general Scott Parker, the elegant simplicity of playmaker Luka Modric and the rejuvenated and irrepressible Emmanuel Adebayor, Redknapp had built a team of genuine title-contenders.
They had seemingly become everyone's favourite team, playing the magnificent, free-flowing attacking football that this country as a whole seems to crave.
Fast forward once more, and you'll see a club in relative turmoil. Joint on points at the top of the league in January has now become a 24-point gulf three months later. But how is such a collapse possible?
The culprit seems to be the very man who supposedly instigated the rise: Redknapp himself.
An insipid and deserved 1-0 loss at London rivals QPR at the weekend has continued a miserable run of form for the White Hart Lane outfit. After thrashing Champions League rivals Newcastle 5-0 in February, the nine games and possible 27 points following have generated a return of just six. Newcastle, in the same period, have bounced back to win 20 points from a possible 27, opening a three-point gap over Spurs in the chase for the final Champions League spot.
It's not just Newcastle. Arsenal have also blasted past their North London rivals so convincingly that a small cluster of fans are beginning to tire of Redknapp and are voicing their discontent. Even Chelsea, notwithstanding their excellent cup form have endured one of their worst league seasons in recent memory. Regardless, they lie just one point behind Spurs.
The deflated performance and non-existent tactics at Loftus Road has culminated in the pressure rising at the feet of Redknapp. For many of us, this run of results has merely strengthened a well-held belief; that Redknapp is a very-limited and rather overrated manager.
His advantages are undeniable. A propensity for an excellent and often cheap buy in the transfer market (which England could not benefit from), a hugely respected man-management style (though Darren Bent and Roman Pavlyuchenko could compile a list of players who would beg to differ) and a revered history in the game (with just one trophy and two promotions to show for it).
But his limitations are clear. If recent reports are to be believed, even his own players are beginning to tire of his well-chronicled struggle with tactics, while an embarrassing capitulation in the FA Cup against arch-rivals Chelsea ended any hopes of just a second trophy in over 30 years of management.
For months at the start of this season, Spurs and Redknapp were riding on the crest of a wave of media hype. As Mark Holmes alluded to in his excellent Monday Moan column this week, players such as Parker have seemingly become world-class overnight. Redknapp was the main beneficiary of this media love-in, as he was installed as the red-hot favourite for the next England manager.
It may be very easy to say with hindsight, but Redknapp's lack of tactics, his stubbornness and his inability to form a plan B is costing both him and Spurs. The question must be asked as to why Redknapp is so overwhelmingly the favourite for the England job. His renowned man-management and confidence instilling style can only go so far; without at least a semblance of tactics there will always be a limitation to a team, as is all to evident now Redknapp has his back against the wall.
With the aforementioned talents of the likes of Bale, Parker, Modric and Adebayor, do Spurs really warrant a place of 15th in the form guide over the last six games? As soon as the pressure started to build and the results started to dry up, Redknapp has proved incapable of injecting confidence and hunger into the team. The players must take a chunk of the blame, but the buck must stop with the manager.
Clearly, managing an in-form and confident team is the easy part of football management. The test comes when the confidence drops and the results evaporate. So far, Redknapp is failing the test miserably, and there are few signs left that he'll pass.
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