Everyone loves Harry Redknapp. Everyone except me, that is. Personally, I’m crushingly disappointed by how far, and how fast, we’ve gone backwards from this time last year. In the Premier League, we’ve picked up a hatful fewer points, and scored a hatful fewer goals. And, over the season, we’ve lost at home to Wigan and drawn at home with West Ham, West Brom, Blackpool and Sunderland, and conceded four not only to Real Madrid and Inter Milan but also to Arsenal, Fulham and Bolton.
As a result, we’ll finish sixth this season compared to fourth last season, and we won’t qualify for either of the European competitions. And all this despite the fact that on paper our squad is a) stronger than last year’s, and b) arguably both bigger and better than almost all the teams finishing above us.
But none of that explains why I don’t love Harry Redknapp.
The reason I don’t love Harry Redknapp is that he doesn’t seem to have noticed any of this. In countless end-of-season TV interviews, he professes himself absolutely delighted with the way the season has gone. It’s been a great season, he says, in which we’ve played great football and been a pleasure to watch.
Not from Block E, row 13, seat 117 we haven’t. It’s been frustrating and infuriating beyond all measure watching the talent and creativity of our brilliant midfield undermined time and again by our preposterous goalkeeper, our slow and square defence and our universally goal-shy strike-force. And if there’s one thing even more infuriating and frustrating than all that, it’s hearing the manager say that he’s delighted with it all.
To succeed at the very highest level, I now feel sure that Harry has exactly the same failing as another good Spurs manager, Martin Jol, just three years ago: he’s too nice, too easily satisfied, not hungry enough, not bothered enough. Both of these eminently decent blokes build teams in their own image: likeable, entertaining, talented and always bound to lose out to teams that want it more.
There’s no single formula to instil that hunger. Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Roberto Mancini and the rest of them make demands on their teams in different ways. But none of them would ever say they were even remotely delighted with a season in which their teams went backwards as rapidly as we’ve done this season, and that’s why I’m founding my Harry-must-go movement.
And finally, of course, there’s an analogy between football and real life, as there always is. Why do I feel quite so strongly about this? Why does it bother me quite so much? Well, we’re talking about a team that I’ve been following for a few days over 50 years now, of course. But also, in one of the gloomier corners of my mind, I suppose it’s true to say that I can’t help thinking of a certain individual not unadjacent to myself as the Harry Redknapp of financial marketing.