The question is why? Chairman Daniel Levy has always backed his managers in the market and Harry Redknapp has been portrayed as a wheeler-dealer by the media when it comes to transfers. This may have some merit. During his managerial career Redknapp has signed 176 players at an average of just over £2m, perhaps understandable considering at the majority of clubs he has had to operate on limited finances. Within this – and allowing for inflation – only three of Redknapp’s purchases have cost more than £9m, Jermaine Defoe, Robbie Keane and Wilson Palacios.
Redknapp has moved up the managerial ladder until reaching Spurs, arguably another level for Harry altogether. Finances are sound and the long term aim is not survival – except on his arrival – but titles and trophies. This is a different type of pressure – the weight of expectation.
Perhaps this pressure is getting to Redknapp, the difference in backing your judgement on a player to the tune of several million pounds than there is to the tune of £15-20m or more. However, this may well be what Tottenham need to go to the next level. Spurs have good players, but Luka Modric and Gareth Bale are not Redknapp signings. Rafael van der Vaart may be deemed a Levy signing. Do they need a manager unafraid to make the big call in the transfer market? Some of Redknapp’s signings, such as Crouch, Defoe, Kaboul, Kranjcar and the rumours of Joe Cole and Scott Parker may indicate a manager operating within a comfort zone – players he already knows well. Steven Pienaar may be a typical Redknapp signing – a £3m bargain. Similarly, fans may have expected the goalkeeping issue to be resolved by the signing of a Shay Given or Maarten Stekelenburg. Instead, Redknapp signed 40-year-old Brad Friedel on a free. Old habits?
In January, Spurs looked to be close to signing Luis Suarez before he went to Liverpool. Redknapp blamed his scouts, claiming they advised the striker was not up to scratch. Suarez’s 81 goals in 108 games perhaps spoke for itself. Maybe the manager was uncertain about backing himself in having to break Spurs’ transfer record. To date none of the transfer rumours with a fee of over £15m have materialized.
In his career Redknapp has made some quality signings and, particularly at West Ham United, brought through good young players. Redknapp also gave Bale his break when many wanted him sold. Arguably, he can spot potential. Perhaps he needs to trust his own judgement and make the big calls.