Ol’ Arry’ is one the media’s biggest darlings, the drivel he spouts on a weekly basis in his ‘Big Opinions’ column in the Sun does forego him the privilege of a little leeway when it comes to a proportionate amount of criticism that other managers are dished out, but one of the greatest fallacies about Redknapp is that he’s a supreme man manager and it’s something that needs drawing attention to.
Redknapp has always been an amiable kind of bloke, he talks to the press more than even they require and he’s never short of a quote or two and this has apparently left him somewhat immune to accountability.
His treatment of Gareth Bale, David Bentley and Roman Pavlyuchenko has been extremely poor at times during his tenure in charge and their subsequent success is even more fortunate as a result. The fine seasons that these three have had are more down to luck and circumstance rather than any tactical realisations Redknapp has had during the course of the season.
Gareth Bale has emerged as a truly exceptional left back come winger, his rampaging runs down the left flank surely must have caught the eyes of scouts all across Europe and at 20 years of age he still has time on his side. But his recent run of good form has little to do with Harry and more to do with how he got in the starting eleven in the first place.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto seemingly had the left back berth all but sown up this term with some sterling performances at the back, but after a groin injury that ruled him out of both the African Cup of Nations and the rest of January, the injury plagued Bale was given a chance to shine after sitting on the bench for the majority of the campaign. Bale’s displays against Arsenal and Chelsea were absolutely first class but were it not for an injury to Assou Ekotto, I very much doubt whether he would have been on the pitch at all.
David Bentley is another one to have shined due to the absence of a first team starter through injury. Aaron Lennon, similarly to Assou Ekotto, was ruled out with a groin strain in January, originally for only a fortnight, but as the tissue has taken longer to mend than previously anticipated and with fears that he’ll break down before the World Cup, he’s been slowly eased back into action.
On hearing this injury Redknapp stated “I could play Krancjar and Modric wide. Modric could play on the right just as easily as on the left. The two Croatian boys are fantastic technicians and great footballers.” Having obviously realised that Lennon would be out longer than anticipated and with Modric and Krancjar going through some injury related issue of their own, Bentley, by circumstance more than anything else it has to be said, was thrown into the fires of the starting eleven.
Hardly the confidence boost any player wants from a supposedly great man manager, when you’re seen by him as the last resort despite costing just shy of £17m. Bentley’s form has been consistent though and he merits a place in the side for the first time at Spurs with 6 assists and 4 goals to his name in 16 appearances across all competitions. His lively wing play and excellent delivery from both dead balls and open play has been a joy to watch at times.
Roman Pavlyuchenko is a puzzling figure. A bad trainer by all accounts, surly and with a penchant for silly and unwanted statements in the press, he has been in fine fettle this term when finally given the chance to show his talents. The Russian stated that Redknapp was “mocking him” by not playing him in January and was concerned that his manager belittles rather than encourages him. In January transfer window there were offers on the table from Spartak Moscow and Birmingham and Redknapp was not wholly against the idea selling him, but he remained at the club because Spurs didn’t receive the right offer that they were waiting for.
But yet again Redknapp was forced into a change, with Defoe picking up a niggly hamstring injury and the Russian displaying some formidable form in domestic cup competitions when given the odd run out, that it got to the extent that his good form became impossible to ignore despite his manager’s best efforts to the contrary.
With Defoe having gone seriously off the boil with only 4 goals in his last 14 games and Crouch struggling also, Pavlyuchenko has by circumstance once more rather than good man management, gone from fourth to first choice striker. Had Redknapp received the right offer in January from Birmingham of say perhaps a couple of million more, then he would now be strutting his stuff down at St Andrews Street rather than White Hart Lane and Spurs could be facing a bit of a goals crisis.
He once even famously told Darren Bent that “You will never get a better chance to win a match than that. My missus could have scored that one. Bent did not only have part of the goal to aim for, but he had the entire net – and he put it wide. Unbelievable. I was just so frustrated” in reference to a 1—1 draw with Pompey at home last season.
Just at a time when Redknapp should be publicly backing his player despite his miss and lending him his support, he slates him and offers him to the wolves like a lamb to the slaughter, hardly the mark of a good manager like say Jose Mourinho or Martin O’Neill. Interestingly, Bent was Spurs top scorer that very season with 17 goals in 42 games, with most of these coming as tit bits off the bench such as the aforementioned Pompey game, but Redknapp I suppose never has been one to dally in silly things such as facts and truth.
It would seem rent-a-quote Redknapp has cultivated himself a reputation as a fine man manager, when the recent evidence is stacked up against him pointing to the contrary, sure he has his favourites like any manager does, with Defoe and Crouch springing to mind, but what this ignores is the fact that he’s a populist that has been dealt a decent hand when it comes to luck. The successes of those mentioned above this season have all come through the result of injuries, suspensions or a move to another club as in Bent’s case, rather than any of the arm around the shoulder routine that Redknapp has become famous for.
It’s a testament to the strength in depth of the Spurs squad that they can call on international class players such as this when it times of need, but the wool can be pulled over my eyes no more, he’s not an excellent man manager, he’s a very naughty boy and a fortunate one at that.
Written By James McManus