Harry Redknapp Undermines Own Case with Ludicrous England Claims

Alex Dimond@alexdimondUK Lead WriterOctober 7, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: QPR manager Harry Redknapp during the Sky Bet Championship match between Queens Park Rangers and Brighton & Hove Albion at Loftus Road on September 18, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

In extracts from his new autobiography, serialised in Monday’s edition of the Daily Mail, Harry Redknapp claims he still does not know why he was not offered the England job almost 18 months ago.

Harry, the answers are right there in the text:

If I had become the England manager I would have taken Brendan Rodgers as my No. 2.

He had players at Swansea passing it like Franz Beckenbauer. You know how his teams are going to play before you kick off. They are going to pass, they are going to take risks; but England do not have that identity.

My thinking on Brendan was this: if he can do it with players from the lower leagues at Swansea what can he do with Rio and Terry or Rooney and Gerrard?

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?

I told him I wanted England to play with  as much technical ambition as Swansea. He was up for it.

So, for those scoring at home, before Harry Redknapp had even got the England head coach’s job, he had sounded out someone else about doing the main part of that job; actually coaching the England football team.

Such arguments are classic Redknapp—who has proven to be his own greatest spin doctor over the course of his career.

He is popular with the press because, beyond being undoubtedly engaging and open with them (something that cannot be said for a majority of managers), he invariably makes claims and statements that give them plenty to write about in the next day’s editions.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 01:  Harry Redknapp the Queens Park Rangers manager reacts on the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Queens Park Rangers at Craven Cottage on April 1, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Ros
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Such tales (of varying truth) invariably do a good job of painting him in a good light (superficially, at least) and offer great headlines, yet they don’t really stand up to the sort of subsequent scrutiny that the tabloid media (who form Redknapp’s greatest support base) is only rarely interested in offering.

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As such, they serve his purposes perfectly.

The Rodgers claim in his autobiography is a case in point; Redknapp believes it shows that he had a clear plan that his rival has never displayed—but in actual fact what he really appears to be suggesting is that it is Rodgers, not him (or Hodgson) who the FA should have approached.

After all, what was Redknapp going to be doing while Rodgers coached the players? Look into possible transfers?!

It will be interesting to hear what Rodgers says when questioned about the matter. Redknapp says that the Northern Irishman was willing to take the role (“If I got the job, [Rodgers] said, he would speak to the people at Swansea to get their permission.”), but the talk at the time was that he was content to focus on club matters.

His subsequent appointment at Liverpool that summer would suggest he was never really likely to be Redknapp’s No. 2.

Redknapp’s Rodgers claim is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his dealings with the FA, an organisation he insists “hasn’t got a clue.” Professing to be at a loss to explain why Hodgson was picked over him following Fabio Capello’s shock departure, Redknapp hits upon the amount of compensation the FA would have had to pay Spurs for his services as the reason.

“I’m sure the FA would deny they were interested in me anyway, they always like to say they got their No. 1 choice, but maybe what helped make their minds up was the thought of writing a cheque in the region of £16 million to Levy,” Redknapp noted.

Putting aside the fact that, considering he was released by Spurs mere months later, Levy would probably not have driven as hard a bargain as he usually does in transfer dealings (the Spurs chairman must have already been considering a change of direction), Redknapp conveniently chooses to ignore the possible effect of his trial for tax evasion.

With the FA notoriously averse to appointing men likely to court controversy as national team manager (Brian Clough never got the top job simply because he was outspoken), Redknapp was never likely to be a favourable contender after a such a high-profile run-in with the law, even if he was eventually cleared of all charges (although only after telling the police he could barely read or write, raising the question of how exactly this autobiography came into being).

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 03:  West Bromwich Albion manager Roy Hodgson looks on as Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp shouts orders to his team during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion at White Har
Julian Finney/Getty Images

This is classic Redknapp, brushing aside a prospect of having a role in his snub to highlight other, somewhat dubious, potential reasons for being overlooked.

Then there is the core matter of his actual managerial record.

Had Redknapp been beaten out for the England job by a man with a record of one significant trophy in 25 years as a manager, he would undoubtedly have raised that in his autobiography as a cause for concern.

Yet that is exactly what Redknapp’s CV reads, with that one major trophy (the 2008 FA Cup) seemingly requiring him to be complicit in mortgaging an entire club’s future in order to achieve, judging by Portsmouth’s subsequent demise.

Much of Redknapp's 25-year career was spent at mid-level clubs like Pompey, West Ham and Southampton—invariably achieving good results and league finishes, but without ever crafting the sort of playing style that he so lauds Rodgers for developing in a handful of years.

He then got the biggest opportunity of his career with Tottenham. Admittedly he had his successes—guiding the side to fourth in successive seasons, enjoying a memorable Champions League campaign—but there was an element of trial and error to that success.

It is worth remembering that he initially stuck Luka Modric (signed by his predecessor, Juande Ramos) out on the left wing before belatedly realising the Croatian had all the tools to be arguably the best deep-lying playmaker in the league.

Gareth Bale, similarly, was at one point proposed as a makeweight to Middlesbrough for Stewart Downing before staying and proving his star quality as a left-winger—not the left-back Redknapp had initially played him as.

Of course, that did not stop Redknapp subsequently taking the credit for Modric’s move to Real Madrid, or ignoring those less favourable elements of his role in Bale's rise and rise.

While this column perhaps overstates his negatives—if only to provide a counterpoint to his own unchallenged claims—it remains the case that Redknapp does not have as much to commend him as many believe.

Redknapp has always been a spinner of yarns, but by this point we really should be wising up.

His book, Always Managing: My Autobiography, will no doubt contain more intriguing tales, but let us make sure we study them with a quizzical eye.

The more he talks, the more it becomes clear that, if it ever really was about making a straight choice between Harry Redknapp and Roy Hodgson, the FA never really had a decision to make at all.

BURTON-UPON-TRENT, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11:  Roy Hodgson the manager of England U21 shares a joke with his assistants, Ray Lewington and Gary Neville, during a England U21's training session at St Georges Park on August 11, 2013 in Burton-upon-Trent, England.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images