Harry Redknapp Faces a Journey Into the Unknown
One look at Harry Redknapp's coaching career highlights, and you will see that the man has blown hot and cold over the the 27 years that he's been in the football management game. Harry's been relegated twice from the league that his club belonged to— Bournemouth and Southampton. Then again, he's won the Intertoto Cup with West Ham United and the FA Cup with Portsmouth.
The latest achievement in the current upswing of fortunes was guiding London club Tottenham Hotspur into the top four of the Premier League— something that Tottenham was at the brink of doing only a few years previously, if it weren't for some bug— and thus, into the Champions League.
Even as a Liverpool fan, it is hard for me to begrudge Harry and Tottenham of their place in the top four at my team's expense. I had prepared myself mentally for it and had chosen to back the Spurs in the three-way that went on for most of the post-winter part of the season between them, Manchester City and Aston Villa. And it was basically because the Spurs played better football.
With the decisive victory over Manchester City (away, no less) on the penultimate day of the season, my belief was vindicated. Tottenham Hotspur entered the UEFA Champions League for the first time since it was called that. And to think, just the previous season when Harry took over, the Spurs were in shambles, aggregating two points in eight games. The joke about a triangle having three points while Spurs having just two was gaining momentum.
How Far Will Tottenham Make it in the UCL?
But Harry Redknapp changed all of that with his arrival. He's widely known as a wheeler-dealer of sorts in the transfer market, and his ability to spot good talent in the market is well-respected. As the January transfer window arrived, Redknapp wasted no time in bringing Cudicini, Defoe, and Palacios, among others, who would become the crux of his first team. Redknapp favorite Peter Crouch came back to the club that reared him first in the summer of 2009, as did Niko Kranjčar.
Harry Redknapp also ensured the progress of one of their highly coveted wingers, Welshman Gareth Bale, whose live-wire play ensured two back-to-back victories over local rivals Arsenal and Chelsea. Danny, the young academy star, "rose" to the challenge in the game against Arsenal, scoring a spectacular volley. He also ensured that no player thought of himself to be bigger than the club by banishing Darren Bent to Sunderland. He was an expert man-manager, no doubts.
But then again, is it a case of a small fish in a big pond? Yes, the Champions League brings money and reputation. It surely increases your likelihood of signing Luis Suarez. Ashley Young will most probably find your club more attractive than his own and even Manchester City. Champions League qualifications brings a sort of respectability to a club, more so in England, because for the first time in years a team has been able to break the quad-poly of the Big Four. But you pit the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich against Tottenham Hotspur, a relatively fresh face, and you feel something is amiss and can't help but write off their chances altogether.
But if you ask me, I'd love it for Tottenham Hotspur to do well in the Champions League. It would be a great way to cap off the career of a really great man who's seen the good, bad and ugly of football. COYS!
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