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Thursday 14 December 2017

John Giles: End of the line for old school Harry Redknapp

Harry Redknapp
Harry Redknapp

IT’S funny the way instinct works. I’ve been watching Harry Redknapp all season and a few weeks ago, a thought formed in my mind that this would be his last season in football management.

I wasn’t to know that Redknapp was already well along the path towards taking his leave of Loftus Road but it was no surprise at all when the announcement came on Tuesday.

I wouldn’t say I was the only old pro looking at Redknapp and reaching the same conclusion. I could read it in his face and general demeanour.

The job of extracting results from a marginal squad takes an awful lot out of a manager and when it is repeated year on year, the cumulative impact is significant. He’s had health problems too and a lot of stress in the area of personal finances.

This was one relegation battle to many for one of the last of the old school and if I wasn’t surprised by his decision to quit I would be if chooses to come back into the game in the future. I think his race is run.

It’s sad in many ways. He is a talented coach with a great ability to manage men and although by most standards, he’s had a fairly successful career there is the sense of regret and missed opportunities.

Could he have done it at one of the top clubs? Well in some ways he did. He qualified Spurs for the Champions League in 2010 and brought the club as far as the quarter-finals.

A quirk of fate meant that because Chelsea won the trophy in 2012, fourth place in the Premier League wasn’t good enough to make it into the draw for the following season and it wasn’t good enough for Daniel Levy either.

If events had not intervened and Redknapp had been left alone to continue his work at White Hart Lane, who knows where he might have ended up or how high Tottenham Hotspur might have flown.

The Tottenham situation was complicated by the fact that he was one of the main candidates to replace Fabio Capello as England manager and it was obvious at the time that the main reason Levy had for sacking him was the fact that he refused to rule himself out of the running for the job.

I’ve no doubt that Redknapp was playing both ends and trying to lever as much control of the Tottenham squad and as much transfer cash as he could from a chairman prone to meddling.

I’m sure the England job was a huge temptation to him and a pretty good alternative if his club was not prepared to give him the resources and authority he wanted.

In the end, Redknapp lost out on both jobs and I genuinely believe that England made a big mistake when they decided to appoint Roy Hodgson.

I have no doubt in my mind that Redknapp would have created a very different England to the one Hodgson has constructed.

His instincts are pure and every team he has managed has tried to play the right way. Even difficult and high maintenance footballers respond to him.

Man management skills come naturally to a gregarious soul and Redknapp is universally liked. In fact, I’ve often thought that he gives too much of himself to the media and I don’t mean that in a bad way.

Some crave attention and can’t help talking and others use the media to suit an agenda but I think Redknapp is just suited to the limelight and he enjoys it.

The media love him because he tells it as it is and will supply quotes on demand without making the job of collecting them more difficult than it needs to be.

His ability to talk and entertain will serve him well in the coming months and years. I’m sure he would settle very comfortably into a pundit’s chair and I think he would find it very hard to withdraw completely from the game.

CHANCE

If he does follow his son into a permanent role in a soft seat, I’m sure he will get the chance to offer his opinion on what I am certain will be ongoing problems for Queens Park Rangers.

Tony Fernandes has been telling us what the new QPR will be like and his ‘model’ for the future involving home-grown talent, directors of football and a new way of doing things.

Good luck with that Tony. Everyone would like a team full of lads who live within a mile of the stadium but in the context of the Premier League and QPR’s position in the scheme of things, that’s just a bit of flannel.

Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea have invested vast sums in their academy systems and only a trickle of locally sourced talent makes it near first team squads.

With the exception of Southampton, survival in the Premier League is about hard cash and a good manager.

Harry Redknapp was a good manager and if this is the end of his time, he will leave a gap behind which will not be filled.

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