Redknapp hints Spurs paid a price
FOR THE first time Harry Redknapp has admitted his managerial team believe the Football Association’s 12-week process to find a new England manager has affected Tottenham Hotspur: “Some people will feel it has, people who work with me think it’s definitely had an effect but I don’t know really, I’m not sure,” he said.
Surveying the implosion that began soon after Fabio Capello resigned, Redknapp went no further than this. But one view of Spurs’ current situation is of a flux that may descend into chaos.
Gareth Bale says he could leave. Luka Modric, another A-list performer, will look again at his decision to stay after flirting with Chelsea last summer. The on-loan Emmanuel Adebayor’s likely return to Manchester City due to his €208,000-a-week wage heads another wave of player issues.
Redknapp and Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman, must be chuffed to pieces at an FA strategy that pushed back any approach until the back end of the season so as to protect club fortunes and looks to have ended with Roy Hodgson’s appointment – he is expected to be given the job today. Might the FA have been a little quicker? “It’s dragged on a bit, I suppose. That’s the only thing. Other than that I’ve got no problems,” Redknapp said.
“They choose whoever they want to choose. So I’m very lucky to be managing such a great club with great players . . . I haven’t spent the last six weeks thinking: ‘Oh my God, what’s the squad I’m going to take [to the Euros], what am I going [to do]?’ I’ve just been concentrating solely on Tottenham and that’s not changed.”
Capello went on February 8th, the same day Redknapp walked away from Southwark crown court a free man, found not guilty of tax evasion. Tottenham’s next game was the 5-0 caning of Newcastle United at home. That result now goes down as one of the falsest dawns in recent history. In the next 10 league games Redknapp’s team won twice, including Sunday’s 2-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers, to leave them clinging to the final Champions League berth ahead of Newcastle by goal difference, with three games remaining.
Last week Bale said, if there is no Champions League qualification, then “we’ll have to sit down and see what’s best for me”. To this prospect Redknapp said: “Well, that’s up [to him] – that’s up to Gareth and the chairman to discuss that. I think Tottenham need to strengthen, if we fell down anywhere in the end, it’s just that we didn’t have quite strong enough depth in the squad. It was difficult to leave too many of my top players out because I lost people like [Tom] Huddlestone and [Michael] Dawson who would have been very important.”
Levy is parsimonious, which leaves Redknapp unsure if he will be able to recruit. “I haven’t spoke to the chairman but he’s ambitious the same as I am,” he said. “I think he’ll want to strengthen the squad. Everybody’s started. Arsenal bought a player today [Lukas Podolski], Chelsea bought one yesterday [Marko Marin], so we’ll keep strengthening.”
To the uncertainties over Modric (whom Chelsea, Manchester United and City still covet), Bale and Adebayor can be added the unreliable fitness of Rafael van der Vaart, Brad Friedel’s advancing years (he is 41 this month) and the vultures who believe the new PFA Young Player of the Year, Kyle Walker, can also be picked off. All this leaves Redknapp entering the summer wondering if Spurs’ six months contesting the title with United and City is as good as it will ever get.
As Hodgson sat down with the FA yesterday to discuss becoming Capello’s successor, – he left after a “positive” four-hour meeting at Wembley – Redknapp dealt with the humiliation of not even being granted an interview by offering a magnanimous front. “I wish him all the best,” he said. “I don’t hold grudges.”
When Spurs’ form nose-dived contemporaneously with the FA’s dilly-dallying over Capello’s replacement, the joke went that Redknapp could end the process having lost two jobs: the one at White Hart Lane and the one at Wembley. He is safe in his club post. But what could be a long summer is about to begin.