Redknapp Is Not The Man For England

In Football on September 14, 2011 at 11:48 am

We’ve already seen the damage that can be done when managers are talked into jobs by their friends in the media. The most recent example was Roy Hodgson’s move to Liverpool. A mediocre, journeyman gaffer suddenly talked up as manager of the year for a lower mid-table finish and getting thumped in the UEFA Europa League final and then given the reigns of power at a big club he should never have been at.

Now it seems the same thing is poised to happen with England. Despite it being a long way off, the successor for Capello’s departure seems to have already been decided. But should Harry Redknapp, known to his friends as simply ‘Arry, really be given the most difficult job in world football? Here’s some reasons why it will likely be an unmitigated disaster.

Wheeling & Dealing

When you’re an international manager you can’t simply take to the transfer market, signing every African midfielder that’s available in an attempt to rejuvenate an already swollen squad. You have to work with what is there, which for the most part will be the same old names that have been there for the past decade or so. It’s doubtless that someone who revels in their image being the equivalent of a used car salesman will find this mundane reality particularly stimulating.

Can a man whose instinct told him to look abroad when he was managing a team with one of the best young squads in Britain – West Ham – really be the man to help assemble a consistent England squad? Will the temptation to tinker and pick some wild selections prove too great? Just who would be the UK equivalent of Marco Boogers and Florin Raducioiu anyway? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Wild Excuses

He’s always got one, hasn’t he? And to be fair, England fans are sick of hearing them from a string of manager’s that simply can’t put their hands up and say they are out of their depth. Already he’s been at it this season having the audacity to claim that having one player in his squad “tapped up” is the reason for a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of a superior Man City. Then after agreeing to sell vast swathes of his squad players before the transfer deadline he then bemoans what a small squad he actually has, setting up future excuses as they may be required.

Of course, by having friends in the media, these outbursts are glossed over as him simply being plain speaking. However, will people want to hear about the “lack of available players” or “congested domestic schedule” after crashing out of the qualifiers for an international tournament? Doubtful. We’ve heard it all before.

Antiquated Tactics

Everyone would agree that football has come a long way in the last thirty or forty years. The modern game is as much about tactics as it is about having the playing staff, the proof of this being numerous in the new breed of football manager typified by Mourinho. Do England then really want a manager who thinks it’s all as simple as having a couple of quick wingers, a large centre forward to aim crosses at and a small, rapid striker to feed balls through to? Don’t forget the combative midfielder.

While such dull and often trotted out truisms such as “you can’t beat pace in the premier league” are all well and good, do we really want to see England relying on the same game plan it had before it finally decided that maybe foreign coaches were the way to go? Tottenham may well be labelled an attacking side and an entertaining one to watch but that is more down to the staff they have in the ranks (emerging talent such as Bale who was being touted as heading on loan to Birmingham back in 2009, the mercurial talent of Modric) rather than any genuine tactical innovation.

By his own admission they’ve suffered due to not being able to field their big players – in the international world where injuries and suspensions define whole tournaments, a genuine general is going to be required for success.

Blind Loyalty

Everyone knows Ledley King has no knees. I don’t mean “no knees” in the same way a fat bloater huffing and puffing around the Sunday league pitch has no knees. I actually mean he has no knees. If he plays one game, he’s invariably out for three… If he makes training at the start of the week, he’s resting by the end of it.

I know all this because Harry Redknapp never stops talking about it. We get it. It’s a real tragedy. Ledley King isn’t the first talented player to have limitations put on his career by physical problems and he won’t be the last. The real question though has to be why, knowing that he has no knees, Redknapp has made no real effort to replace him. Why does he allow him to remain on the payroll? Why doesn’t he just cut his losses? Why doesn’t he put the arm round the shoulder and tell him it’s time for retirement but not to worry as he can coach the kids, who do have knees?

It’s because Ledley “is a great lad”, which is probably true. Still, you want a manager to make the tough decisions. If I worked in a call centre and had no vocal chords, great lad or not, I’d expect the gaffer to tell me I should probably go and flip burgers instead.

Taking injury prone players to international events because they’re great lads is a surefire recipe for disaster and not one I trust Redknapp to steer clear of.

Old Grudges

While on the one hand he’ll be loyal to players who can’t play, it’s a fact that Redknapp has also has some pretty unsavoury run-ins with his fellow managers. Always one for the dodgy deal, several managers have accused Redknapp of unsettling players and has left whole clubs cursing the day he had dealings with them.

Given that the relationship between the national manager and those at club level has to be one of give and take, can Redknapp smooth over some of the past transgressions in order to ensure that he can have those players free for a friendly, or take someone recovering from injury into a competition?

Would he even want to is another question. He can be every bit as cantankerous as you’d expect a human Bagpuss lookalike to be. Old arguments would likely lead to the standpoint of cutting off his nose to spite his weathered face.

Self Interest

Whatever anyone says about the England manager’s job, it being labelled as a poison chalice for anyone who takes it could not be truer. Whether it’s the comedic ineptitude of Graham Taylor, the emotional fragility of Kevin Keegan or the voodoo fixated Glenn Hoddle, the scrutiny and pressure makes fools of them all. Look at the fate of Steve McClaren, once touted as the best modern coach England had produced, now reduced to impersonating the Dutch and managing Forest.

Ultimately no job in football carries a heavier penalty for failure, which is all well and good, yet Redknapp always seems to emerge from even the worst of situations looking immaculate and this is largely down to him always acting based on his own self interest. His track record within club football points to a manager who persuades chairmen to part with vast sums of money, presides over a period of success and then, the minute the peak has reached, plots his next big money move to a new home to repeat the cycle again.

Given that managing England is likely to be his last job in football, is it not entirely likely that when the going gets tough, Redknapp will walk out just as his country could really use him? And that would be the end, with him accepting a huge advance to write his memoirs like a disgraced politician, being drafted in by Sky Sports as a pundit for England games so he can criticise his successor and sit next to his son, like some hideous advert for the ravages of time.


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