Tottenham’s achievements in the Champions League this season have been a joy for me to see at every level. Not only am I delighted to see my old club dining at the top table with Europe’s elite, playing a fearless brand of attacking football, but also for my old boss Harry Redknapp to be picking his wits against some of the top managers in Europe. The transformation he has made at the football club is incredible and he fully deserves the plaudits that come his way.
Like I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, football has a habit of pigeonholing you. While many saw me as little more than a tough tackling defender, the perception of Harry prior to his arrival at White Hart Lane was that he was a small time manager unable to cut it at a big club. In the last three years he has proved all those doubters wrong with his exploits at Tottenham, so much so that he is odds on to be the new England manager when Fabio Capello departs. Everyone that has worked with him won’t be surprised at his success; it is just a shame it took the rest of the media a long time to work it out.
The secret to Harry Redknapp’s success is ultimately down to his man-management of individual players. It is clichéd term but he has the uncanny knack of making you feel 10ft tall and capable of beating anyone, which rubs off collectively and makes you feel motivated as one. He wasn’t afraid to tear a strip off you should you need it and he didn’t hold back with anyone. I remember I was having an absolute stinker against Manchester United and the more I tried to resolve things the worse I got and I remember Harry’s own special way of getting me back on track “Oi Razor, get warmed up, you are coming off in a minute” – needless to say it got the desired response from me. Redknapp just knew which buttons to press with players and that is why he is so successful in bringing the best out in them.
Harry’s other great strength is his ability to unite the whole football club. From the players right down to the tea lady, it is a fun place to go and work. Training can often be a chore at times but Harry always makes it an enjoyable experience. Even if you have had a bad result at the weekend, Harry would be even more upbeat to ensure that your heads didn’t drop and you wouldn’t dwell on it. I have played under managers, who would remain moody, or hold grudges against individuals following a bad result and their negativity would rub off on the rest of the team. Redknapp is the complete polar opposite as he understands that morale and confidence is just as significant in succeeding, as raw footballing ability. I bet those Tottenham players were as nervous as hell at half time against Milan, but you can guarantee that Harry will have defused that with a few choice words to ensure that the team went out and finished the job in hand. I have read journos in many papers this weekend claiming that Spurs beating Milan ranks as Harry’s finest hour as a football manager and while I’m not certain of that, it certainly proved to his doubters that Redknapp is a top class football manager who has what it takes to mix it with the best in Europe. Those who have played under him always knew that at the right club Harry could do it and it appears that the rest of the football fraternity is finally waking up to it as well.
Former Tottenham, Liverpool and West Ham defender Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock is one of the great characters of English football. Razor has the same no-nonsense attitude off the pitch as he did on it.