Redknapp playing his press card wasn't enough. Thank goodness...
By Dave Bowers
Wednesday 02 May 2012 09:42:00
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Before you read this, I admit it: I don’t like Harry Redknapp, I never have and, short of his dog paying off the balance of my mortgage, I can’t imagine I ever will. And I’m a Pompey fan – but that should not detract from the necessity of this polemic…

It’s been interesting to watch the collective outpouring of bitterness in the national football media now their choice has been sidelined in the quest for a new England manager.

It’s not just the humiliation that they clearly backed the wrong horse – though that’s hard enough for them to take – there’s also the suggestion that what the media wants isn’t always what’s best for the nation.

Of course, lovable rogue ‘Arry Redknapp will always find time to offer up a soundbite for the evening bulletin or tomorrow’s back page, often framed by a car window for added effect. And it’s this the media wanted – not somebody capable of winning international tournaments.

Like most of us they realise that whether it’s Redknapp, Roy Hodgson or even Jose Mourinho leading England into the Euros, we’re unlikely to progress beyond the last eight. We never do – that’s our level. It could be argued that Hodgson, with his proven ability to have lesser players punching above their weight, is the ideal man in that circumstance – England has an entire squad of ‘lesser’ players.

So what they really want is somebody who’ll give them a good line. There’s nothing that eases the national pain of a humbling home draw against Liechtenstein in a World Cup qualifier more than a glib one-liner delivered in the post-match press conference. And Redknapp’s good at that.

So good, in fact, that his ability to ‘flip-flop’ on events and his own views are largely ignored by the media. There are many examples of Redknapp stating one thing as fact one minute only to contradict the statement further down the line. But he did it with a wry sense of humour, so his duplicity is easy to overlook.

No sooner had news broken that Hodgson was to be interviewed for the post than ‘respected’ national football writers were on Twitter citing the Baggies boss’ apparent brittleness in face of hard questioning by the media (there they are again folks) during his brief and unsuccessful tenure at Liverpool.

‘Arry would never be like that, they said. Oh, that’s OK then. What English football needs more than anything is a man who can stand up to his management skills being analysed in public. Really? Well, they backed the wrong horse there too.

Only a few years ago the tabloids were full of pieces about Redknapp’s embarrassing tirade at a local reporter during his reign at Portsmouth. After a late substitution nearly turned the game – the home fans who had “never had it so good” according to their modest manager, had been baying for the change for some time – the wheeler and dealer was asked, quite politely, if he felt, retrospectively, the substitution might have been made earlier.

“What do you f***ing know? How much do you f***ing earn?” screamed the lovable East Ender to the bewildered hack in front of an equally astonished press pack. He went on to point out he probably earned more in expenses than the (well respected and long serving) reporter did in a year, before turning on his heels and flouncing off. Maybe HMRC should have used that as evidence…

That he’s actually not as well qualified as Hodgson in football terms has also been overlooked. Redknapp spends money like it’s going out of fashion – which at several of his previous clubs it very suddenly did. Yet for all that he’s won just one FA Cup, at Portsmouth, which as every football fan has recently decided was achieved only by cheating. Well, may be not cheating exactly. But certainly by playing by the rules of a very silly game in which clubs are only able to 'compete' by the financial equivalent of a building house of cards in a hurricane zone.

It has also been suggested that Sir Trevor Brooking, one of the panel of FA suits which will determine the identity of the new national team manager, has not forgiven Redknapp for the way he treated Billy Bonds when he, Redknapp, secured the West Ham manager’s position. It wasn’t the last time the cheerful Cockney would be accused of whispering in the ear of the powerful while wielding a knife in the back of somebody he called a friend.

But there remains one further element in this farce that has yet to be considered: the fact that Redknapp is not actually a very erudite thinker – and that may have been his downfall.

His obsession with the quip which he believes make everybody warm to him, has come back to bite him in the lower half of the table. The Football Association, which puts much emphasis on education in young players, could hardly consider employing a man who, in a court of law, claims to be barely able to read and write. In the history of Redknapp’s facile comments, this may be the one which truly settled his fate.

This, of course, brings us to Southwark Crown Court and HMRC’s ultimately futile attempts to pin the fault for the global economic crisis squarely at the door of Redknapp and his comical sidekick Milan Mandaric.

HMRC failed, but Redknapp was still in court. He’s also had a small walk-on part in a Panorama documentary and the FA is clearly concerned that might not be the end of it. When a bomb is ticking, it’s not advisable to bring it inside the house.

Still, the cheeky chappie can’t lose. He’ll remain at Spurs for a while where, depending on which paper you read, he’s either lost or galvanised the dressing room. He’ll renegotiate a contract which allows him a 10 per cent cut on any future sales before off-loading Gareth Bale to Inter Milan for £50m.

Then he’ll move on to another club he couldn’t possibly move to because the fans would never forgive him in the hope he’ll once again inherit a player like … well, Gareth Bale. As a parting gift he’ll tell the the former double-winning Spurs fans they had “never had it so good”.

That should continue to put a smile on both of his faces.

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