Redknapp and Tottenham are the perfect match
Tottenham’s transformation this season has been nothing short of remarkable, but has the restoration of a classical English framework within the club been at the heart of the recent success at White Hart Lane?
Spurs travel to Old Trafford today knowing that three points is a prerequisite if they intend to continue their pursuit of fourth spot.
A string of victories, seven in the last eight, has propelled Harry Redknapp’s side two points ahead of fellow Champions League candidates Manchester City. With his side now one point away from equalling their highest ever Premier League tally, the English manager appears to be the perfect match for the north London club.
Redknapp swapped the south coast for London in November 2008. His predecessors included Juande Ramos, Martin Jol and Jacques Santini, all of whom failed to guide the club into the Champions League. Ultimately, this is the Holy Grail chairman Daniel Levy craves.
Jol came agonisingly close to securing fourth spot in 2006, but did the presence of a sporting director hinder the club’s progression? The concept has worked abroad with many Spanish clubs reaping the rewards of added assistance in the transfer market.
But the system has seen little success in England. Kevin Keegan famously resigned from Newcastle United citing his displeasure at the club’s transfers being controlled by sporting director Dennis Wise.
Daniel Levy persisted with this system at Spurs and during Santini’s time at the club, Frank Arnesen was responsible for scouting and player recruitment.
When Santini left north London a few months later his assistant, Martin Jol, was appointed as his replacement. Arnesen subsequently joined Chelsea and Damien Comolli filled the vacated role.
Spurs’ fortunes eventually began to flounder under Jol and Ramos was appointed. The Spanish manager brought an impressive CV with him to White Hart Lane, but importantly he also had experience of working with a sporting director. At Seville he teamed up with Ramon Rodriguez Verdejo, who has been accredited with much of the La Liga team’s success.
But Levy’s interference during the Ramos era upset the momentum at the club. The chairman stuck to his policy of buying young English talent, frequently overruling Comolli and Ramos over possible transfers.
The result was an expensively accumulated side boasting tremendous talent but lacking balance. The style which Ramos intended to impose was compromised by the wishes of Levy.
The arrival of Harry Redknapp in 2008 signalled a return to the traditional structure of a British club - a point Levy referred to in his open letter to the fans upon the appointment of Redknapp. The travelled manager brought with him extensive experience of handling interfering members of the hierarchy at a football club.
Levy’s passion for Spurs is undeniable and coupled with his acute business mind he is of obvious benefit to Tottenham. Despite misjudgements in the past he recognised the flaws in the continental system, but crucially it is his ability to learn from his own mistakes that has helped propelled the club forward.
Redknapp has shown himself to be a football wise, media savvy manager, unafraid to play hard ball with authority at a club. And judging by the progress made during his time in charge, it would seem that Harry Redknapp and Tottenham Hotspur is nothing less than a match made in footballing heaven.