Harry Redknapp has clearly given up any last hope of becoming England manager, at least under the current FA bosses, who he claims “haven’t got a clue.”
Speaking in his new book, Always Managing: My Autobiography, the former Tottenham boss launched a spectacular assault on the men that run English football as well as putting the boot into England’s style under Roy Hodgson:
The Daily Mail provides the quotes:
I wouldn’t trust the FA to show me a good manager if their lives depended on it. How would they know? What clubs have they ever run?
This isn’t about them giving the England job to me or Roy Hodgson, but English football being run by people who really haven’t got a clue. And they get to pick the England manager!
All the senior players seemed to be up for me to get the job. I got quite a few text messages at the time from players saying they would love me to manage England: Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry …
We are outplayed by nations whose players couldn’t make it in our Premier League. You’re watching a tournament and thinking, “Hang on, he was at Blackburn—he was useless,” or “That bloke couldn’t get in West Ham’s team.”
Redknapp had been heavily fancied to be appointed England manager before Hodgson beat him to the post in May 2012. The choice represented the FA’s preference for organisation and etiquette over Redknapp’s unbridled passion and bullishness.
Spurs had finished fourth under Redknapp in 2012, playing arguably some of the best football in the country.
The decision to overlook his style will be examined in the next eight days, when England complete their qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup. Back-to-back home wins over Montenegro and Poland will act as justification of Hodgson.
Anything less brings the risk of epic failure.
However, Redknapp does not only criticise the FA bosses. He also ridicules England’s brand of football:
If you look at England against Italy at Euro 2012, and I know it was difficult for Roy because he had just come in, but when your best pass completion statistic is from Joe Hart to Andy Carroll—goalkeeper to big lump of centre-forward, bypassing nine outfield players—you know you’ve got a problem.
Hodgson’s style has always favoured two banks of four in front of the goalkeeper, making it difficult for the opposition to penetrate. Few teams are as well-drilled as a Hodgson side, proven by the fact England have conceded three goals in eight qualifying games.
However, free-flowing, imaginative football is not often associated with the current coach. England have drawn half their qualifying fixtures so far, a statistic that could cost them a place in Brazil if it continues over the next two outings.
Redknapp’s plan was to lean on the skills of one of the best minds in the country when it comes to football: Brendan Rodgers. According to the current QPR boss, Rodgers would have been working for England—not Liverpool—had the FA handed him the job. The Mail provides the quotes:
He had players at Swansea passing it like Franz Beckenbauer ... Look at Brendan at Liverpool now—he still knows how he wants to play. He got rid of Andy Carroll because he wasn’t in that plan. That is how Spain operate: this is how we play and we don’t compromise …
So when Tottenham played Swansea on April 1, 2012 I pulled Brendan after the game and said that if all the speculation about me and England was true would he consider coming to the European Championships in the summer as my part-time coach? … He was up for it.
Redknapp’s revelation over Rodgers is an eye-opener for Liverpool fans. He took charge at Anfield in June 2012, the summer when he would have been working with England at the European Championships.
Had Rodgers' mind been on England, it is unlikely he would have entertained the Liverpool job.
The knock-on effect might have changed the entire landscape on Merseyside. Roberto Martinez was also interviewed for the Reds job but, after Rodgers landed the post, later became boss of Everton.
Right now both clubs are blossoming from the outcome, with Liverpool joint top, while Everton sit four points back—both playing superb football.
Who should be England manager?
The upturn in fortunes of Liverpool enhances Redknapp’s point. Rodgers has swiftly created an entertaining side at Anfield, improving the form of English players like Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge.
However, in the FA’s defence, Redknapp’s own trajectory has taken a major dip since he missed out on the England job in 2012. He was later fired by Tottenham, before he failed to rescue QPR from relegation last season.
If Hodgson is seen as methodical and painstaking, Redknapp is occasionally viewed as tactically naive.
The ultimate judgment will be based on England’s World Cup bid. Qualification is a must, after which a quarter-final spot will be the least of expectations. If Hodgson achieves that, the FA will feel the appointment was justified.