The last third of Tottenham Hotspur’s season has seen a nation size shadow cast over the club: a shadow the size of England. In some ways England, has been there lurking all the time. Even before the season started, everyone knew that Fabio Capello would be gone after Euro 2012 with Harry Redknapp’s friends in the press touting him as the likely replacement.
There may have been sense in this: Tottenham had finished fourth and fifth and had a Champions League campaign behind them. Redknapp himself has rarely played down the link, claiming as far back as June 2010; “I’m English, who wouldn’t want to manage England? There’s not an Englishman – whether it’s me, Roy Hodgson or Sam Allardyce – who would turn the job down because it’s our country and we want to manage our country. No one is ever going to turn that job down. If you’re English you cannot not want to manage your country.”
The expectation by many may have been that Redknapp would complete the 2011/12 season at Spurs and move to the England role after the Euros. This may have influenced the summer 2011/January 2012 transfer windows. Spurs brought relatively few people in and some of those they did were loans or short term contracts. Again, if Daniel Levy thought his manager would be leaving, he may not invest large amounts in players that may not fit in with a new managers thinking.
Events changed on the 08th February with the catalyst yet another alleged incident featuring John Terry. The decision by The F.A to strip Terry of his captaincy led to Capello’s resignation. On the same day Redknapp had walked free from Southwark Crown Court having been found innocent of tax evasion charges. Kismet? The press, fellow managers, players seemed to be falling over themselves to anoint Redknapp as England’s next football king. What followed was a media frenzy, exasperated by The F.A statement that no appointment would be made until the end of the season.
The Tottenham slump started shortly after. The certainty that Redknapp was leaving, the uncertainty was when exactly. FA Board member, Phil Gartside, who arguably should have known better, stirred the fire in April suggesting Redknapp was the man for him. The slump only ended when Roy Hodgson was named the new man. A 12 week process, 12 weeks of uncertainty for Spurs.
No-one, when potentially faced with a major decision can put the issue out of their mind. There is always likely to be a loss of focus, a distraction, thoughts wandering. [Redknapp was occasionally caught in this, commenting on England and players]. The longer it continues the more the distraction grows. As a manger, this will filter down to your players. They will see your distraction, they will feel uncertain themselves. This translated itself to the pitch, to the bench.
The England job was not the only reason for the slump obviously, but brought a background issue to the forefront. The FA arguably in trying to do the right thing, damaged Tottenham’s season and failed to react when the situation became apparent. Hopefully, they will learn a lesson, but one too late for Tottenham.
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