Tottenham Club Focus: Should Redknapp speak less in public?

Tottenham Hotspurs’ fans may acknowledge the improvement in the team since Harry Redknapp took over in October 2008. From the relegation zone to Champions League quarter final and consecutive top five finishes in the English Premier League in the space of 31 months is impressive. However, while fans recognise a debt to Redknapp, there appears to be growing criticism of the manager since missing out on a Champions League place. He may not have helped himself by calling fans who queried the poor run of form, idiots. Spurs fans may well point out that they supported the club long before he was manager and will do so well after he has gone. In other words, they care what happens and feel they have every right to raise questions.

Perhaps Redknapp’s contradictions are causing most concern among the fathful. On the Luka Modric transfer he has stated that the Croatian must be kept, that he would like to build a team around him, that letting him go would show a lack of ambition, but then says he understands why Modric wants to leave and hopes he can be “tempted” to stay. Modric may not feel the recent targeting of Beckham and Joe Cole by Redknapp would constitute building a team around him. Nor may he be convinced of Spurs ambitions when, in recent interviews, Redknapp conceded Spurs cannot finish above the two Manchester clubs or Chelsea and that United have done the best business and look good for the title. Perhaps the manager should be reminded of the quote by Spurs legend, Bill Nicholson: “It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low. And we of Spurs have set our sights very high, so high in fact that even failure will have in it an echo of glory.”

Last season Spurs played some attractive football but 10 points out of a possible 30 against the bottom five clubs, and the run of poor form from February to May, cost them dearly.

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In March, Redknapp commented on his preparation to fight the HMRC tax evasion case against him, scheduled for July: “It has been difficult to concentrate on the job at times, but I’ve managed to do it.” A month later he said he was unconcerned by Spurs’ poor form. How distracted had Redknapp been by the HMRC, talk of the Chelsea and England jobs and particularly his media commitments and quotes? Would Sir Alex or Wenger be so publicly diverted from team matters?

Redknapp has been accused of tactical naivety at times and, while his changes turned some games around, arguably his tactics led to Spurs being in a poor position to begin with. There has also been criticism of his lack of squad rotation. This has led to dissatisfaction with the fringe players and could undermine the claim that his strength is motivating players. Surely he has built up enough credit with Spurs, but with tough fixtures early in the season any continuation in poor form may bring added pressure and criticism, especially if Redknapp continues to fulfil non-team matters. Perhaps Levy should insist on no outside media obligations.

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