Sunday 26 October ~
After Spurs lost limply to Stoke a week ago, Sky pundit Jamie Redknapp suggested that the dispirited squad needed “an English manager” to rouse them. The relentlessly eager Redknapp often gives the impression of saying the first thing that comes into his head but in this instance he may have had an inkling that his father would be getting a phone call. It comes as no surprise that Harry Redknapp’s appointment as Spurs manager has met with almost universal approval in today’s papers. Most football journalists seem to love Redknapp – while many of his colleagues treat reporters with varying degrees of suspicion, he’s affable, talkative and funny, a constant source of good copy.
In among the many phone calls he apparently made in the hours after his departure from Portsmouth around midnight on Saturday was a characteristic quip, reflecting on the £5 million compensation agreed with his former employers: “Pompey couldn’t sell a player in the window so we sell the manager.” There’s nothing wrong with a football manager cultivating the press and putting on a bit of a show - it’s infinitely preferable to the sort of witless aggression recently unleashed by Joe Kinnear.
But Redknapp’s uncomplicated bonhomie has not made him a widely respected figure outside of the sports departments of the national newspapers. The reason for this is encapsulated in a comment made today by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy: “It is right time for us to return to a traditional style of football management at our club.” Levy was referring to the fact that he will not be bringing in a replacement for the widely criticised Damien Comolli. In practice it means that Redknapp will be more directly involved in transfer dealings than his two immediate predecessors.
Redknapp has occasionally complained at being perceived as a “barrowboy” but he would have to concede that he enjoys the buying and selling of players, given that he has been involved in a huge number of transfer deals at every club that has employed him. He has said that this is a consequence of his usually having taken over struggling teams badly in need of new faces. But while he has had notable successes – taking Bournemouth to the second level for their time in their history and winning promotion and the FA Cup with Portsmouth - expansive spending policies have left his various clubs with huge debts.
This can probably be put down to recklessness, a gambler’s instinct that, it is true, has often paid off in terms of good results - although some critics have appeared to suggest that it is more than simple irresponsibility. In his book Broken Dreams journalist Tom Bower meticulously detailed the frenetic whirl of transactions that took place during Redknapp’s time in charge at West Ham. Redknapp threatened legal action over the book, which is yet to be forthcoming. He has also not followed through with the promised action over a seemingly innocuous appearance in a Panorama documentary about alleged corruption amongst football agents. He is, however, suing police who raided his home earlier this year in relation to an investigation into the business dealings of a players’ agent, Willie McKay. By the time that is cleared up we can expect to see Spurs comfortably clear of relegation danger if today's start is anything to go by. Having been largely inept in the transfer dealings in recent years they have at least appointed someone who knows the market inside out.