Four months ago Harry Redknapp had the world at his feet. The darling of the media and the overwhelming favourite to lead England into Euro 2012, ‘Arry sat pretty as the manager of an exciting Spurs team on the brink of breaking the Manchester stronghold.
But after continued England speculation heavily disrupted Tottenham’s league form, cracks started to appear in the gold-plated figure of the ex-Portsmouth manager. On Wednesday evening, after Redknapp essentially admitted that the England speculation had derailed his season by suggesting contract uncertainty would impact on the dressing room, Daniel Levy showed him the door. Oddschecker.com has singled out some early candidates, and the list looks strong.
What’s wrong with Harry?
Question marks over the legitimacy of his management style and tactical approach have plagued Redknapp during the latter stages of his career, as an increasing influx of statistical analysts and tactical eggheads into Premier League management have left Harry in the minority. His old-school approach, with a reliance on high quality signings and belief in unshackled expression of player individuality, is no longer in vogue.
With the increasing globalisation of football – an industry where fine margins are of huge monetary significance, where psychology, fitness and tactics become increasingly sophisticated, and where statistical analysis is readily available to all – the traditional English “go out there and play” approach is fading rapidly.
Tottenham’s next manager, then, is far more likely to be cast in the mould of tactician. After the apocalyptic decline in form in the latter stages of the season, Redknapp’s absence of in-depth tactical coaching came under particularly close scrutiny, with his failure to reinvigorate the side seen by many as final confirmation that Redknapp’s management style simply isn’t complex enough for the higher echelons of the modern game.
Levy’s appointment strategy: what he will be looking for…
That is not to say that Redknapp’s work at Spurs has not been commendable; Harry provided Tottenham with a vital injection of motivation when they desperately needed it, infusing the raw talent of Jol’s team with a winning mentality: he was the right appointment for the time, and he has completed the job required of him.
Daniel Levy traditionally alternates between motivators and tacticians with each appointment – an incredibly astute strategy, and one exemplified in the transition between Jol and Redknapp. This employment policy balances the club by providing the foundations for a fluidity between managers whilst also offering a change in direction that boosts the club to the next level.
In this instance, Redknapp has fuelled Spurs with a togetherness and winning team ethic, as well as building a squad of truly talented individuals: this is what the next manager will inherit.
The missing piece, which Redknapp could not provide, is detailed, tireless drilling and dedicated tactical formulation. Levy knows that he needs to instil a hard-working tactician, willing to introduce regimented individual roles and detailed yet flexible tactical models: the alternation rota falls on a strategist, with the foundations of a good team already, thanks to Harry, in place.
Who are the candidates?
Van der Vaart once famously elaborated on the public’s unspoken understanding of Redknapp’s inability to strategise, by telling the media:
“There are no long and boring speeches about tactics.
There is a clipboard in the dressing room but Harry never writes anything on it”.
Redknapp himself once commented, “you can argue about formations, tactics and systems forever, but to me football is fundamentally about players”. Well, the men who will talk about formations, tactics and systems forever are the leading candidates for the vacancy: David Moyes, Roberto Martinez, and Andres Villa Boas.
David Moyes is the stand-out favourite, and with good reason. The Everton boss is characterised by high intensity training regimes and tireless attention to detail.
Moyes varies his tactical shape depending on the upcoming game, scrutinising the weak points of his opponents and drilling his team accordingly. A studious and intelligent coach, Moyes is also praised for his humility, not only willing to accept his mistakes but determined to improve himself and his team.
His outstanding achievements at Goodison Park are testament to this, with the Toffees consistently finishing in the top ten despite limited resources. He can also boast an excellent scouting network, recruiting unknowns such as Fellaini, Pienaar, Cahill, Arteta, and Jelavic, to name but a few. Moyes would give Tottenham’s talented group of individuals the ruthless structure they crave, if they are ever to fulfil their potential and challenge for the Premier League title.
Andres Villas-Boas’s reputation is still intact after a tumultuous spell at Chelsea, and his attentive tactical approach could be enormously successful at White Hart Lane. Abramovich’s short-sighted managerial policy threatens any momentum shift with dismissal, if short term targets are not hit.
With the sword of Damocles over his head, AVB was never going to be given the time he needed to reinvigorate a tired, ageing and declining Chelsea squad. His biggest mistake as Chelsea boss was retaining the services of the older Chelsea generation and using them in a squad rotation system.
For his ambitious revolution to be a success, AVB needed to completely clear out the Chelsea old-guard a la Guardiola: the impetuosity of Chelsea’s respected elder statesmen undermined his authority, significantly strangling the revolution. AVB should not be judged on those 9 months, but instead on the outrageous success he had as Porto manager, breaking numerous records with a management style as in-depth and thoughtful as David Moyes’s. He is a very strong candidate for the Spurs vacancy.
The other leading candidates are Roberto Martinez and Fabio Capello. The former attracts interest for his scouting network, ability to squeeze the most out of players, and an attractive brand of football that could easily be implemented with the technically gifted Tottenham squad.
The latter is a feared and respected coach with a ruthless winning mentality. His chances of succeeding Redknapp depend upon how much discipline Levy believes the Spurs squad needs, after the relaxed and care-free attitude employed by the recently departed manager.
The outside bets include Benitez, Klinsmann, Sherwood and Pardew, but these are more wild speculation than substantial candidates.
Levy’s shortlist is exciting. If he picks any of the 5 favourites for the job there is a significant chance of future success. The future looks bright for Tottenham, and when the dust settles after Harry’s shock dismissal, Spurs fans may find that Daniel Levy has, once again, made a very astute managerial decision.
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