Tottenham Club Focus – Is Redknapp reputation as a man manager deserved?

Earlier this month Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp decided to talk about “problem” striker Mario Balotelli in an interview with The Sun entitled “I know how to handle problem stars”. Redknapp compared the situation to his own handling of Emmanuel Adebayor, who arrived at Spurs with a reputation for being difficult, telling the paper how he had managed to get the best out of the Togolese striker.

Redknapp has been lauded by the press as a man manager, this being his major attribute [over say tactical ability]. There have been various ex-players such as David James, Kanu and Stuart Pearce willing to attest to this. Even current players such as Rafael van der Vaart have praised his laid back management style, stating; “Harry is better than Jose”, seemingly partly on the basis that there are no boring tactical speeches. [again in an interview with The Sun]

Is Redknapp’s reputation deserved? Apparently so, on the basis of how widespread his man management strength has been reported in the press. Look a little closer and perhaps this could be open to question. From the Spurs squad at the start of season there have been 10 players who have between them made just two starts in the Premier League. Of these, the four with most league experience [except the injured Tom Huddlestone] are gone, one sold and three on loan. All could have played an important role this season, but all left frustrated with a lack of playing time. They are not the only ones. Why? If Redknapp managed their expectations to be part of the squad, to get game time but it may be limited, would the problem have arisen? Maybe not, as long as this expectation was then followed through.

Has the treatment of Giovani dos Santos shown great man management? His performances in tournaments such as The Gold Cup have been scintillating yet for Spurs he hardly plays, Redknapp publicly stating that he questioned Giovani’s professionalism. If a manager has a problem with a player, this should surely be resolved behind closed doors, everything kept within the club, such as with David Moyes regarding Royston Drenthe. However, there are too many comments made about players to the media. Did Luka Modric appreciate Redknapp just coming out and saying his head would be turned by Manchester City? Why say this – Modric has acted completely professionally since the failed bid by Chelsea. Similarly, why would Adebayor appreciate being linked in article about problem players?

“Even my missus Sandra could have scored that one” – Darren Bent stated that the humiliation from this comment was the reason behind his request to leave Spurs. Redknapp may have been frustrated by Bent’s miss, but there are maybe more diplomatic ways to say so. Where was Bent’s arm around the shoulder then? When Alan Hutton left Spurs, he was particularly scathing on Redknapp: “There were so many people in that squad that felt unwanted and I’ve never experienced that before anywhere I’ve been. Does Redknapp’s reported man management technique stretch to players outside the first eleven?

Spurs face a fight for the top four, and can still get third but have to turn around a poor run. Will this be the biggest test of Redknapp’s ability to get the best out of his players? Maybe, hopefully for Spurs fans he can.

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