Advocating the sacking of Harry Redknapp

It is said the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. As Harry Redknapp sent Jermain Defoe onto the pitch, softening the midfield, many of the club’s more cerebral followers knew what was coming next. Fast-forward to full-time and Tottenham had shipped three more goals to Chelsea and left Wembley humiliated as their season imploded further.

If we ignore the inept officiating that handed Chelsea a second goal, the performance was mixed. A spell of dominance just before Didier Drogba’s opener had followed an uncertain and nervy opening half hour but it teased before the characteristic Tottenham collapse arrived in the second period. Some appalling defending contributed to the humiliating loss and ended dreams of a first FA Cup win since 1991.

On the face of it, this particular loss doesn’t point to major flaws in Redknapp’s management, but dig a little deeper and you can find the hallmarks of a number of criticisms often levelled at the Spurs boss and for me, at least, highlight why I believe Redknapp is worthy of the sack.

I am choosing to begin with Tottenham’s league form rather than the FA Cup defeat as to me this has been the root of the desperate situation the club are in.

Miguel Delaney put together a fantastic statistical look at the performance of Premier League clubs over the first-half of this campaign and compared it to the second-half. The idea was to dispel the myth that early season form creates ‘truths’ about the entire year’s work.

One of the focal points of his piece revolved around Tottenham and the catastrophic plummet in form Redknapp has overseen. Four wins in the last 14 league games is wretched enough but to compare the points per game (PPG) statistic as Delaney does in his article, gives an even better impression of just how badly it has gone wrong.

From the first 19 games of the season, where Spurs had the third best PPG in the league (2.21) they have slipped a full point lower in the following 14 league games (1.21). Across all 20 teams, it is the largest fall in form and only Liverpool come close with their PPG slipping by 0.93. As Delaney states – “that is one of the worst drop-offs in league history.”

In Redknapp’s time at Spurs, the current situation is easily the most concerning. Last year saw his side drop from fourth to fifth amidst mitigating circumstances. Focus certainly switched to the glamour-tie against Real Madrid but once the European adventure ended, Spurs again dropped away, recording a PPG of 1.53 in the back 19 games compared to an opening 1.74.

The 2009/10 season is the only year in which Spurs have actually improved on their PPG in the latter half of a season, going from 1.79 to 1.89 as the north Londoners clinched their maiden Champions League place. Even in his first year, the PPG remained at 1.63 over the games he managed after his appointment in October.

So just why does league form take such a nose-dive? There are a couple of key reasons but I suggest starting with the terrible squad management – a string notoriously missing from Redknapp’s bow. In comparison to the top six teams, Tottenham’s first eleven (Friedel; Walker, King, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Parker, Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart; Adebayor) have played more minutes than any other side. In fact, between them, they have played the equivalent of 42 games (3862 minutes) more than Manchester United’s first eleven (De Gea; Jones, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Nani; Rooney, Welbeck).

Gareth Bale and Luka Modric – unquestionably the two crown jewels of the current Spurs team – have played 2766 and 2764 Premier League minutes respectively this year. That puts both of them in the top ten midfielders in the league for number of minutes played. Mikel Arteta (2588 minutes) is the only player from any of the sides above Spurs to feature in the top 15 and from their immediate rivals, only Newcastle’s Jonas Gutierrez (2855 minutes) leads Bale or Modric.

The squad, quite simply, is knackered. They have been driven into the ground by Redknapp, who for the majority of his time at Tottenham, has needlessly overplayed his star players. Not only have the pair (and we can throw Kyle Walker and Benoit Assou-Ekotto into the mix) played over 30 Premier League games each, they’ve all featured heavily in the FA Cup. The games against Stevenage and Cheltenham were ripe to rest these four but in some form or another, all four featured.

The poor management of clearly fatigued players and the reluctance to rotate his squad can also thread a further flaw of Redknapp into the argument. As the January transfer window opened, Spurs were six points off the summit in third position. It was a prime opportunity for chairman Daniel Levy (who can’t remain totally blameless) and Redknapp to combine and reinforce the squad for the business-end of the campaign.

Instead, by February, veteran free transfers Ryan Nelsen and Louis Saha were signed whilst useful, if underused, squad players Vedran Corluka, Sebastian Bassong and Steven Pienaar all left on loan and Roman Pavlyuchenko returned to Russia permanently. In the space of a month, the Spurs squad had been trimmed and considerably weakened through their dealings. Whether Redknapp’s impending court case had a bearing on Levy’s willingness to sanction cash deals, is open to conjecture. However, you’d hope it did factor into the chairman’s thinking, otherwise the January failure becomes as damaging to his reputation as Redknapp’s.

One thing that serves as a defence for Levy was the nature of the signings. The Spurs chairman has always advocated the signing of youthful prospects who retain their value if and when the club decide to sell them. Saha and Nelsen have a combined age of 67. Their immediate benefit is in the dressing room as Redknapp told the gathered press after Spurs beat Bolton at White Hart Lane:

“At the end of the season you have got to keep him [Nelsen] here next year because he’s worth his weight in gold just to have around for other people to look at the way he works.”

Is that really what a club with top four (and beyond?) ambitions should be expecting in the summer? Retaining the services of a 34-year-old veteran who has featured in just seven games and is well down the pecking order of centre-backs is a prime example of the short-termism often exhibited by Redknapp. Where is the long-term planning at Spurs? Nelsen, the fans presumed, was merely a stop-gap.

Redknapp lives the moment as a manager. His free-wheeling ‘attack, attack, attack’ style is testament to that and you’ll find many a Tottenham fan in agreement that when it comes to foreseeing future problems, he simply doesn’t see a bigger picture. Aside from his transfer dealings, which I believe highlight that short-sighted thinking (see the return of Jermain Defoe, Robbie Keane and Pascal Chimbonda, if you’re after further proof), this excellent piece written by Ewan Roberts at the beginning of the season, details many of the long-standing problems with Redknapp.

He wasn’t appointed by Levy as the long-term answer. His ability to put an arm round players and give them confidence was required to address the alarming Juande Ramos tenure and bring Spurs back to safety. He did that, and probably to the surprise of Levy, found an extra gear – pushing Spurs into Champions League contention for each full year he’s been at the club.

The easiest and sometimes laziest attack is to call Redknapp tactically clueless. But whilst suggesting that he is totally incompetent is a hyperbolic statement, there is no smoke without fire. Over the recent months his tactical decision-making (or lack thereof) has been called into question on numerous occasions. The gung-ho 4-4-2 that has served him well in the past has now become so hackneyed and predictable that he has had to revert to the 4-5-1 that every man and his dog could see suited Spurs best. And yet, his alarming post-match analysis of the systems he can choose between beggars belief. A sample of some recent quotes:

After defeating Bolton and Swansea in the same week, Redknapp spoke of how the 4-5-1 formation ‘suited the players‘ and how he ‘liked the system‘. Following the loss to Norwich just two games later he said:

“We played 4-4-2 today but it leaves us a little bit open. It’s an attacking system but I felt we’ve looked stronger recently with 4-3-3. It was disappointing the way we played.”

If he knew that, why did he play that way? Is it just to appease fringe players like Jermain Defoe? And finally, when talking about the relevance of tactics:

“It’s 10 per cent about the formation and 90 per cent about the players. If you have the best ones and they do their jobs, then they can pretty much play any way you want them to.”

You can draw an awful lot from these quotes and it is alarming listening to him de-construct the tactical options he believes he has. The idea that 4-4-2 is an attacking system and 4-5-1 is defensive is untrue and an archaic way of thinking, particularly in the modern game where it has been proved otherwise. See Paul Lambert’s Norwich in their 2-1 win at White Hart Lane. They lined up in a 4-4-2 but it was far from an attacking system. The midfield was narrow and designed to prevent the Spurs four from playing before launching counter-attacks full of movement as the wide-men interchanged with the Canaries front-men. It was a lesson in how a clever, forward-thinking manager could disguise a game-plan within a tactical label.

This brings us back to Sunday’s loss to Chelsea. With 75 minutes on the clock, there was still ample time for Spurs to find an equaliser and they were just about edging possession heading into the latter stages. Then came the hammer blow – Defoe was brought on for Van der Vaart and immediately any grip Tottenham had on the midfield was lost – two minutes later, Ramires had the ball in the back of the net and the game was over. The reason I’m so critical of this incident ties in with my above point. It’s far too simplistic to think ‘we need a goal so I’ll take off a midfielder for a striker’. There was no thought paid to the overall repercussions it would have and Chelsea clinically punished the move.

It can be argued that he had to press for the equaliser and that it was the right move, but to watch this trademark Redknapp late-game ploy was to watch him hand the Chelsea midfield the initiative. He may not be tactically clueless but he is tactically predictable and if it is this simple for a writer to pick up on his Plan B, you do wonder just how prepared the game’s deeper thinkers are – i.e. Arsene Wenger – see Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham.

Aside from that long-standing issue, the last two months have really highlighted a major problem but it is perhaps the most intangible of the lot. Redknapp became the bookies favourite to take the England job when Fabio Capello resigned back in February. The FA have still not acted and whilst their dalliance is a gripe for Spurs fans, the uncertainty it has created within the club is palpable. The atmosphere at White Hart Lane was reduced to nothing more than a whisper for the majority of the Norwich fixture. As different sets of standpoints clash on the future of Redknapp and indeed players like Bale and Modric, the home fans had to suffer the taunts of ‘is this a library?’ as they stood and watched the Canaries defeat Spurs for the first time in 19 years.

I’m not suggesting the grievances of the supporters should dictate Redknapp’s future – rather that it is a window into the current malaise plaguing Tottenham. In the same week that Redknapp was cleared on tax evasion charges – a week that should have been full of celebration – his mind was immediately filled with thoughts of filling the vacant England position. Though Newcastle were demolished 5-0 in the club’s next game, Spurs’ form drastically declined and it is surely no coincidence that it ran parallel with visions of taking England to the Euros.

He has painted a good picture of the work he is doing at Spurs and in fairness has batted away questions on the England job relatively diplomatically. However, every so often a sound-bite emerges that if dwelt upon serves as a reminder of his loyalties. Just over a month ago Redknapp reminded the nation’s press that he felt the England job wasn’t one for a younger manager and reiterated how great it would be to manage your country.

It’s fair to say that his mind has not been solely focused on taking Spurs back into the Champions League. The FA Cup became a priority for Redknapp as it would have capped a good three-and-a-half years at the club, especially knowing he won’t be staying at the club beyond this campaign. As it has worked out, he won’t be claiming a second FA Cup and it’s looking increasingly unlikely that Spurs will qualify for Europe’s premier competition.

Put bluntly, this Tottenham team – a first eleven that on paper, at least, is a top three side – should have sewn up a top four position. To watch their form completely fall off a cliff in the second-half of the season would not be acceptable at a top club. That is half the problem. In my 26 years, Tottenham have been below average. They’ve won the odd cup but could never be trusted to achieve something meaningful. Redknapp gave the club a glimpse of what it felt like to be part of the elite in the 2009/10 season in coming fourth, but that should not be the pinnacle of this Tottenham team. Instead of using the dark days as the measuring stick, Levy should be using the last couple of years as his gauge in deciding if Redknapp is fit for the task.

I accept that an FA Cup semi-final and a fifth or sixth place Premier League finish in years gone by would have been more than welcome but times change and so should expectations.

If Redknapp is off at the end of the season, I see no reason why a change of management now should be deemed such a risk or conversely a drastic decision. It would be a PR disaster, sure, and the media would have a field day, condemning Spurs as the laughing stock they were once so familiar as. But aside from Parker, Aaron Lennon and surprisingly Emmanuel Adebayor, it seems to me that a number of Spurs players are lacking the spark they had earlier in the season. Whether it is through mental fatigue or a distracted mind – as is the case with Modric – Tottenham have been inadvertently jettisoned by Redknapp.

Will he get sacked between now and the end of the season? I doubt it. The only scenario would be if the FA made an official approach, as is rumoured to be the case this week, and an agreement was made between both parties. The compensation package he would be due from the club probably prevents this suggestion materialising but that’s not to say it doesn’t deserve a place in the debate.

I will close by reiterating the point: if Spurs fail to claim a top four place, it will go down in history as one of the all-time biggest Premier League collapses – and that is through mismanagement of a very capable squad.

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36 thoughts on “Advocating the sacking of Harry Redknapp

  1. I think you’re a little harsh on Harry. Yes, he’s poor in tactical management but that hasn’t stopped Spurs to play the way they play. Even when they play 4-4-2, it’s almost like a 4-2-3-1 -> Adebayor dropping back like an attacking mid rather than a full out striker. I think that has been the main problem from Spurs this season.

    Like last season, our front heads have failed to shine. Two years ago we qualified to the Champion League because Defoe and Crouch were at their career best and have not maintained that form ever since. I still think our weakness is our inability to score goals. We need a striker who knows to be at the right place at the right time and is an impressive finisher of the ball. Defoe’s finishing is by far one of the best in the EPL and arguably the best an England international has but he doesn’t know how to read the play. He like for the ball to get to him -> He runs a little -> jinks -> and shoots – while Adebayor has no intention of being that kind of attacker -> He doesn’t use his height or shooting ability properly. It’s always that extra touch that he takes that looks like a pass rather than setting himself up.

    We’ve even had problems at the back. I don’t think King is our Mr reliable anymore. Maybe someone youg should’ve been given a chance in the earlier stages of the FA Cup, help him grow, we have produced some outstanding players and I think we should bring back Caulker from Swansea and offer him some first team football next season along side Kaboul – who has been the miracle our season in my opinion.

    If we don’t qualify, there is almost an 80% chance that we’ll loose Modric to one of the Manchester clubs and probably Bale if we don’t play well next season. Sending Pienaar was a huge mistake. He’s almost like Van Der Vaart with a little bit of less accuracy in passing.

    I say – Get a ‘RELIABLE’ striker, a center back, a midfielder (if Modric leaves) and GET CAULKER and PIENAAR back. We need to strengthen our squad if we’re to compete in the Champion League or challenge for 4th place. We’ll have A – L – O – T more games next season if we qualify and I think Levy need to lighten his pocket a little if we are survive as one of the top 6 teams in the EPL.

    Apologize for the long comment.

    • Pienarr like Van Der Varrt with a little less accuracy in passing? Er, try no accuracy in passing, no positional sense and no ability whatsoever apart from a mediocre ability to toil away and meander without any sharp edge or purpose.

      I can’t remember any Van Der Vaart-esque vollies, set pieces or cool finishes from outside the area. I severely doubt he has the finishing ability of VDV nor the composure to tuck a penalty away and make it look so easy.

      Why all the love for Pienarr all of a sudden anyway? He never had one decent game in a Spurs shirt and I can’t even remember him getting a shot on target, let alone any scintillating strikes that draw any comparison whatsoever with VDV at his best.

      • Not saying Pienaar is better than Van Der Vaart but he plays in the same role as him when with Everton. Yes Van Der Vaart is a much more effective player but Pienaar is a good replacement for him. What Pienaar has is fitness that can be used when Van Der Vaart is not able to start the game.

        Pienaar hasn’t really played a lot of games to prove his worth but he has also played out of position on the wing. Like VDV he likes to play just behind the striker or in the center.

        Likewise, we will need him if Modric does leave next season and now even some of the Spurs players suggesting that even Bale might leave, we need new recruits !!

  2. I believe Spurs will now finish below Newcastle and Chelsea which is failure considering the talent we have at our disposal. Third place let alone fourth should have been done and dusted by now.

    A big mistake was sacking off the Europa League we could have used that tournament to give squad players like Bassong, Corluka, Niko, Pav, JD and Pienaar a game. That would have kept them onboard/motivated and giving them valuable game time.

    Understandably they were pissed off with a lack of game time and were eager to move on. Redknapp admitted on Friday he weakened the team in the January transfer window.

    Regardless of whether the FA offer him the England job Redknapp and Spurs need to part company in the summer.

  3. I think this attitude, from fans and chairman alike, that has halted any kind of progress. The replacement of Jol with Ramos epitomised the problem with replacing managers all over the place. We will have to stick with one sooner or later and I’d say we should be sticking by Harry and hoping he stays.

    This whole debate reminds me of the Charlton fans giving Curbishley stick or Middlesbrough fans saying good riddance to McClaren; we’re a big club but we’re a few bad decisions from lowering in stature.

    Harry’s not perfect but no manager is, we could find someone without Harry’s faults and he’d probably carry a different set.

    • I agree Jol should have not been sacked,but redknapp is a very very average to poor manager,ask bournmouth southamton,portsmouth and west ham fans,not many would have a good word for him,his tactics are rubbish,his transfer dealings have nearly all been disasterous,and cost money,his courting the press and the rubbish he speaks is becoming a joke,levy should just get rid of him,even england don’t really want him as he can’t read or write.and i’ve been season ticket holder for over 30 years,but am getting fed up to the teeth of rednapp who reminds me of bill sykes and to a certain extent levy who is fast resembling fagin….

  4. Two things fundamentally undermine your arguments. 1) 4-4-2 has worked at times (West Brom away, Liverpool home, Wolves away, Arsenal away last season). 2) Those minutes played stats are from the Prem League only. Don’t include cup or European games, which if they did, would reverse the results. Let’s see how the season ends rather than make knee-jerk reactions.

    • Well to address your first point: Arsenal away we played 4-5-1 from the start. The other three games you mention were all early in the campaign – at a time when the players were fresh and we were a lot less predictable (i.e. how would Adebayor slot into the side? etc). To say 4-4-2 has worked when those times are the exception to the rule is wrong in my opinion.
      As for your second point – I agree, taking European minutes into play would have been a worthy exercise however the overall point still stands that his reluctance to rotate the team and the subsequent weakening of the squad in January cost Spurs.
      Finally – it may come across as knee-jerk – it isn’t. I’m laying out an argument that could have been used against Redknapp at any stage in his time at Spurs – it is just more pertinent now given the scandalous drop in form and his imminent departure.

  5. what you also need to add is there have been games not needed ie cup replays. in those games we stupidly played Lennon who was injured and was then out for a few weeks and dawson went down. if you did a job in the first game these injuries would not have happened.

    • “Replays”? Only one cup replay this season, unless you’re counting the rearranged Bolton game, which would seem a tad unfair.

  6. You make some good points and present some interesting stats, but I think you are over-reacting, and you spoil your case with hyperbole. Anyone who describes our current situation as “the desperate situation the club are in” either has a serious problem with perspective, or has only started following the club in the last three years.

    • I wrote this to spark some debate, not to sit on the fence. and I think my perspective is laced throughout the article. From the position Spurs were in, to where they are now, is desperate in my opinion. It’s about the context of the situation – this season, and not using past mediocrity as the measuring stick. But I welcome your opinion.

      • I don’t think it is fair to use our position in January as a measuring stick for our overall situation, considering that was the best position we’d been in for at least 20 years. It’s just as redundant a comparison as Harry perpetually comparing everything to the time when we were “2 points from 8 games”. You surely have to take a longer term view of where we are/have been and measure against that.

        It is disappointing that our form has dropped so dramatically, but we’re still in with a great chance of 4th (odds-on favourites with most, if not all, bookies) and still at least an outside chance of nicking 3rd. There’s nothing ‘desperate’ about that from my point of view.

  7. you use the term mis management like you are at the training ground every day and in the back room with Harry. On the one hand you are blasting him for exhausting our players, then on the other hand, you are blasting him for changing our system against Norwich so we could fit in fresher fitter players. I hear what you are saying but ultimately we have had an incredible season so far. Our Form is up and down at the moment but i would not say its fallen off a cliff – Yes, Arsenal, Norwich and Chelsea (CUP) we did not look good at all but in the other games, Swansea, (for the most part) Man U, Bolton (Cup), Chelsea (league) our form was actually pretty damn good. Every team in the top 4 have routinely not turned up to play and have been punished by other teams. Even Man U this year. While i do not think harry is the be all and end all of spurs im really sick of people failing to see the improvement we have made this year on top of the last and how something is being built at spurs. We clearly havent been able to afford the exact players we need (a 20+ goal a year forward and world class CB) and with those i would put money on us still being sat comfortably in 3rd. If the imaginary forward was 2inches taller than JD we would have beaten City and who knows where we would be.

    The Martin Jol effect is always used a the previous bench mark but the Jol years were a façade to a degree. The year we nearly finished 4th we actually played the fewest amount of games in a season in the history of the premier league. Not finishing 4th in that season was more of a disgrace than last, and finishing 4th the year before was nothing short of a miracle to be honest. I still dont think enough credit is given to him for one of the greatest runs and turn arounds we have EVER seen from Tottenham in the premier league.

    Still 5 games to go. 4 or 5 wins and you will be singing the mans name along with everyone else.

    • I appreciate the time you’ve taken to comment but as you’ll no doubt expect, I don’t agree.

      1) ‘Form’ for me means results, not how we’re playing. For all the decent spells of possession we had against United, we were beaten 3-1. Our run of results since January has been dreadful, that is an indisputable fact.

      2) I’m blasting him for mismanaging the squad (i.e. not rotating it when the chances were available earlier in the season). If he’d done this he could have kept the first eleven fresh for games such as Norwich in the correct system (4-5-1) and not the default ‘attack’ set-up of 4-4-2.

      3) Have we improved this year? We’re three points off what we ended with last term. It’s likely we’ll end with a better points total but if we finish 5th and not in the top four it will be a poorer season for me. Remember we’ve not had to juggle European football this year. It’s been more or less a game a week.

      4) Wholly disagree that something is ‘being built at Spurs’. Where? There’s not a jot of long-term planning at Tottenham with HR at the helm. Anything long-term comes from Levy.

      5) Disagree on Jol. I’d argue he did far better to finish 5th two years running with a vastly inferior squad than Redknapp has done. That’s not to take away from Redknapp’s achievements – I will still tip my cap his way for the 2009/10 year but I don’t think you should use that as a stick to beat Jol with. He had his flaws too but taking us to 5th with that squad was beyond expectations.

      6) Finally – regardless of whether he takes Spurs into the top four, a lot of the points still stand. We shall see over the coming weeks.

      • I think you’re clasping at straws with some of your analysis. You say Redknapp’s biggest flaw is his reluctance to rotate, specifically in the cup competitions. A rather bizarre accusation considering we all but sacraficed our Europa Cup campaign for the sake of giving precedence to our Premier League campaign and even put out a Youth team in the away game with Razan and most of the other games in Europe this season saw a mish-mash of youth/reserve players with the likes of Bale, Modric and co barely getting a look in until we went 2-0 down at home against a very weak PAOK side and Harry went for broke.

        As for our FA Cup run you can’t seriously argue that this has been a major distraction surely? Spurs have never had a cushier route to the semis and if we didn’t have a strong team away at Stevenage we might have been embarassed. As it was we came pretty close to being but in reality our FA Cup run was in cruise control and we hardly busted a gut to get into the semis with our only draw against a fellow Premiership side coming against a beleaguered Bolton side.

        As for our rotation as far as the league is concerned I don’t see how we can chance to leave out some of our most crucial players. We have no right-back cover for Walker. Corluka was well past his sell by date. We have no cover for Ekottu either and as there are no easy league games we simply don’t have the luxury to rest players because the only part of the pitch we have cover for is the middle of the park with Sandro perhaps the natural like for like swap for Parker. Huddlestone has been a big miss too. Having him available would have given us far more options.

        But your overall assertion that the Premier League should take prominence over all else is a veru negative and deprssing one. Yes, I know you can trawl out the economic statistics and the financial improtance of qualifying for the Champions League but what is the point if you’re going to do is worry about how you’re going to cope with a wafer thin squad whilst holding onto that 4th spot next season?

        As Spurs fans we know more than most that tomorrow never comes and one of the best sides we’ve had in years is in danger of passing us by without so much as a League Cup victory to look back upon as a momento and a reminder of the brilliant individual talent and attacking flair we’ve had at our disposal over the last three seasons.

        What do we remember most? The 91 Cup Final or the goal that Paul Stewart scored at home against Coventry to get us third spot in 1989? I know which one I recall most fondly. Our best teams of the early 80’s fought on all fronts, got to Cup finals they won and lost whilst challenging for the league.

        The fatigue syndrome is no excuse. Most FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League winning sides from the Premier League over the past 20 seasons have been fighting on all fronts. granted, the League Cup may be treated with derision, especially in the early rounds by the sides in Europe but that doesn’t change the fact that fighting on all fronts hasn’t prevented the top sides from winning.

        Football is about glory, not balancing the books or sacraficing potential trophies and all else for that lucrative fourth place slot in the Premier League. Surrendering our Europa league spot was one of the biggest disappointments of the season because we gave up a shot at a trophy without a fight.

        Sorry, but there is no excuse for not going for glory in the major cup competitions and anyone who thinks we’re too good for the Europa League is sorely deluded.
        First and foremost football is a game about winning trophy and going for glory. Cup competetions are not an unecessary irritance to be swept aside and undermined by a 4th place at all costs mentality.

  8. Jay, thank you for the analysis. As a relatively new Tottenham supporter in Florida, I love reading well-thought-out, passionate articles about Spurs. Can’t say I’ve followed the team long enough to form a meaningful opinion about what’s happening now (I picked up Spurs Fever during a trip to London in ’09), but I have thrown myself whole-heartedly into the ups and downs of THFC and I think I’m beginning to get the gist of what it means to be a Tottenham fan. My initial (fairly obvious) conclusion? When it comes to Tottenham Hotspur, pain and bliss are close companions.

    As for Redknapp’s future with the club … from my perspective thousands of miles away, it does seem as if his days at White Hart Lane are numbered. And even though Spurs supporters can’t ignore what he has done for the club, his departure might be warranted — welcomed, even — no matter how these last five matches go. It seems like the club is poised to take a new direction in 2012-13, Champions League or no Champions League. If they fail to qualify, it’s pretty clear someone else deserves a turn. If they do manage 12 or so points out of these last five (and really, is that outside the realm of possibility?), then I can’t tell if Harry is the right guy to juggle the demands of Europe and the Premier League. If Harry does go, it will be fascinating to see who gets the next shot. Levy’s choice will speak volumes about this club’s ambition, I think.

    Again, just my two cents. Not pretending to really know a thing about it. But I’m all in on this club now, and I truly care about what happens next. For the short term, I just hope Harry does, too.

  9. Interesting thoughts.

    I read a long time ago a strategic report on how Harry picks his team and trains/plays them into the ground. It has the effect of undoubted sharpness and work ethic in the first part of the season with a predictable injury count and fatigue-induced form drop. That critique was put together before he joined Spurs, so I think there is clearly a case for it to be included.

    However, playing devil’s advocate here, I think some of the early season subs didn’t perform to the level required and we’d all be calling Harry inept if he picked a lazy-looking out of form Pav over a red-hot VdV. If he came on TV after a loss or poor performance quoting ‘rotation for the second half of the season’ we’d all be shouting at the box that there will be nothing to play for in the second half if he keeps picking muppets.

    So I’d argue that yes, rotation and fatigue management are important but we have to be honest about (a) the calibre of the so-called depth in our team, (b) the form of the replacements and (c) how do the replacements change the dynamic of the overall team? To offer some backing to this, I would like to state the following;

    Pav – not really a CL level player in anyone’s book is he? He netted some nice goals but there can’t be a Spurs supporter outside of Russia who didn’t the ‘super pav’ song out of encouraging the numpty to try a little harder.

    Defoe – in the main does NOT match our style of play. Defoe is a player who thrives on playing off the shoulder, getting in behind defenders with some space, usually running 10-20 yards with the ball at feet and shooting from distance to superbly beat the keeper. 3-4 years ago we were under pressure more and played on the break quite a bit. Since then we’ve developed and we play nice possession football, largely controlling territorial advantage. As a consequence, defences and midfields line up banks of 4 in front of us and say, go ahead, break us down. In doing so, the space Defoe works in has dried up. We play the ball out through midfield or up to a ‘back to goal’ forward who brings the midfield back into the game – again, Defoe can’t do that job and the space he needs disappears. Bear in mind that Defoe (last season when he played a lot more) was the most offside player in the league – it clearly tells you which direction he moves when we win possession. He is not going to change. If we end up selling our best midfielders, we might want to make sure we hang on Defoe if we are back to playing direct football once again. There is some irony that Defoe would probably be very well suited to playing against us, given many teams play against us with scoring on the break as the main threat.

    Last point (sorry for the mega post) – togetherness. Every team (even outside of football) hits a bad patch. Some teams are down the bottom and others may be at the top. But how you get through that patch is about commitment to each other. When the wheels start to fall off and you look to the leader (Harry) for commitment it’s not convincing when you know he’s dreaming of another team. The pep-talks don’t count for much and the belief in what they say just doesn’t have the same resonance inside. You can sense they are going through the motions, however convincingly, because you felt the difference when they were still committed.

    • great piece jay,agree with most of it as i agree most of the damage was done in january,sending piennar out and replacing pav with saha was a joke,how can you say pav was out of form when he never picked him even preferring kane on the bench at times and the same goes for piennar being ommitted in favour of the slowest player in premiership in krancjar.redknapp basically forced them out of the club.

  10. Interesting piece & very little I disagree with.

    Assuming Rednapp does indeed go at the end of the season it will be interesting whether supporters feel he leaves the club in a stronger position that when he came squad wise.

    The biggest problem for me is that he may leave us with a squad that is likely to be completely decimated next season especially if, as seems likely, we dont get CL football.

    In goal we might get another year out of Friedel but he’s 41 next month so can’t have long left and Cudicini should have been put out to grass years ago. Assume Gomes is on his way & we will need at least one and probably two goalkeepers.

    Centre Back is a major problem with King (surely gone after his last two displays), Gallas (done us proud last year but time to go) & Nelson (anyone know why we bought another 35 year old?) likely to go. Kaboul has been outstanding for me, Dawson (not a big fan but can do a job) & Caulker (done well on loan at Swansea & hope he is given a chance) will leave us at least one short so more money to be spent there.

    Big names in midfield like Van de Vaart, Modric & Bale will all be tempted away if we don’t get CL football. Scott Parker has shown recently that he has paid for his outstanding contribution before Xmas and there must be a small doubt whether he can last a full season of top flight football with another year on his back next year. So likely we will need 3 or 4 in there.

    Can’t believe the club will break the wage structure to keep Adebayor, Defoe will surely be off to somewhere like Sunderland & still not sure why we bought Saha. We could need an entire front line next year.

    So where will Harry have left us after his years in charge. Basically with about half a squad & in a far worse state that when he took over. I dare say in years to come some people will look back on his time as manager through rose tinted glasses, especially given the CL run. but for me he has done very little except spurned the chance of winning something with the best group of players we have had for a good few years.

  11. For me even if he didn’t get sacked he definitely has to go , he just can’t take the team or individually the player to the next level.

    And what worried me as a Spurs fans is , Redknapp is good in motivate and get out the best of a player . So if the players are already getting tired of his motivation and being mentally drained out , what else can we see the team rely on in the remaining fixtures? You certainly couldn’t work out with any new elements (formation , drills , set-pieces) in just five weeks.

  12. First you say he should rotate the players then you say “If he knew that, why did he play that way? Is it just to appease fringe players like Jermain Defoe? ” You can’t have it both ways.

    • Rotate but within the right system. Not switching to 4-4-2 for the sake of it when he has recognised in the past few weeks that it leaves us open and exposed.

  13. Agree with Greg McG. We have had a terrible run but only 10 days ago we were 3rd and in an FA Cup Semi Final. Everyone on here would have taken that and everyone would have probably taken 4th ahead of Chelsea no doubt???
    It’s easy with hindsight to find reasons why it has happened but blaming fatigue is quite irritating. Our key players were not involved in Europe of the carling cup so a busy premiership and fa cup schedule should not be an issue. Chelski have won the FA Cup 3 times in the last 7 years, won the league and have always gone very far in the champions league so suggesting our players are tied is laugthable and proves just how soft centred we still are. I am 34, supported Spurs for the best part of 27 years and the football and good times Harry has served up is by far the best in my time. As Arry would say “we’ve never had it so good”
    It was all about the phantom goal on Sunday. How much luck can one team have. We have had an Adebayor goal wrongly disallowed for offside against Chelski, 2 off the line (4 if you include VDV’s header Sunday) Chelsea had two off the line against Benfica, two offside goals against Wigan and another off the line against them.
    Us on the other hand are arguably the unluckiest side in the prem league – Gomes last season, Ian Walker Liverpool, Adeybayor against Chelsea home and away this season, Mendez v Man U. BALOTTELI/DEFOE away to Man C. Does nothing go our way???
    It sums up the life of a Spurs fan – Enjoy lads as this probably is as good as it gets..
    PS – We will finish 3rd and just like the Ewan Roberts peice sent earlier in the season this blog will all be forgotten.
    COYS.

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    Interesting read but whilst I agree with his points as regards bringing on Defoe I don’t think we can really point to fatigue as a factor. The Mancs, Arsenal, Chelsea and City have all had European games midweek in the Champs League and UEFA Cup and one thing that I don’t think you can accuse Harry of is taking the Cups too seriously.

    We put out youth teams in the UEFA Cup and the only time Bale, Walker or any other first team player stepped in was when we were chasing the game and heading out of Europe. In fact we threw our European campaign away.

    And as for giving the FA Cup preference? Fuck me, he must have been watching a different Cup run to me cos the only time we really showed up like we looked like we meant business was at home to a tired Bolton side who weren’t really at the races. And we had second strings out for most these games and if Bale, Modric and Walker were on the pitch they were only there in spirit cos in none of these games did we bust a gut to put in a performance and scraped through against the likes of Watford and Stevanage.

    In fact we can’t have any grumbles bout our Cup run. Easiest route to the semis we’ve ever had in my opinion. Not one tough draw whatsoever. Not one game against decent opposition at all before the semi, unlike the likes of Liverpool who had some very tough draws. Not buying that argument . Also, don’t like the way some Spurs fans seem to see Cup games as a time to rest players. Going out of the UEFA without giving it our best shot this year was more of a blow to me than losing against Chelsea cos shit happens and even though it was typical Spurs it was the best side we had to pick from on the day, tactical options aside.

    And this…..
    In comparison to the top six teams, Tottenham’s first eleven (Friedel; Walker, King, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Parker, Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart; Adebayor) have played more minutes than any other side. In fact, between them, they have played the equivalent of 42 games (3862 minutes) more than Manchester United’s first eleven (De Gea; Jones, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Nani; Rooney, Welbeck).

    I find hard to take with more than a pinch of salt. Rooney has had much more time on the pitch than any players in our squad. Saying the first 11 is a little misleading. United have had big Champs League games and the only reason our first 11 has had more minutes on the pitch is because they have a better squad and are more interchageable. Also the fact that Paul Scholes rejoined in January is bound to have reshaped the United first 11 that they had before January thereby skewing the figures for the rest of the season. Cos with him in the side of course that first 11 pre-January were less likely to ever play together for the rest of the season.

    As for the calculation that we have played the equivalent of 42 games more than United’s first 11 TO BE HONEST I JUST CAN’T WORK THAT ONE OUT. I AIN’T NO MATHMATICAL GENIUS BUT THAT SOUNDS LIKE THE BIGGEST LOAD OF COBBLERS I’VE EVER HEARD. NONETHELESS HE DOES MAKE SOME GOOD POINTS.

    • Cheers for the comments. To address a couple of them:
      1) You misunderstand my FA Cup point. I’m saying that it took preference after the links to England began. Hence the performance vs Bolton.
      2) As for fatigue, it is a factor. Admittedly I’ve not fully investigated the minutes other sides have played in Europe but even in spite of his foregoing the Europa League, the league minutes alone show a demanding season has been placed on the likes of Bale and Modric. As I also said in another comment, ignoring the European campaigns, the points are still valid. As an example, Bale played the full 90 minutes in 23 of the first 24 games of the PL season.
      3) As for the maths you mention. Spurs’ first eleven have played 3862 minutes more than Manchester United’s first eleven (I agree it’s not wholly representative as they’ve rotated Young/Nani/Valencia) which equates to 42 (43 actually) full games of football.
      4) STOP SHOUTING AT ME.

  15. I found a link to this page from another Spurs site where I made my comment and simply cut and paste my views from there. Hence all the name, number, membership and number of posts info at the top which I didn’t mean to post. Apologies.

  16. There is one simple point everybody seems to be overlooking … after the City and United games defeats at the start of the season, up until, lets say, the Man City away game on the 22 January, Tottenham had an extraordinary run of straight-forward fixtures … admittedly this period involved games against Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea at home but in their own different ways (Liverpool being down to 10 men for much of the game, Arsenal in the middle of their early season slump and Chelsea in the midst of a power struggle between AVB and the senior players), they were straight-foward games. Lets look closer. Away from home, we played Wolves, Wigan, Newcastle, Blackburn, Stoke, Fulham, West Brom, Norwich and Swansea and interestingly, the only game we lost was the arguably the toughest – Stoke, with two draws, Newcastle and Swansea. At home (along with Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea) we played QPR, Villa, Bolton, West Brom, Everton and Wolves. It was an extremely kind run of fixtures and a result we were in a truly false position in the league table by the time the end of January came around. There has not been a huge drop-off in performance level, it’s just that the fixture list hasn’t been as kind. It’s that simple.

    • Stoke at home? Norwich at home? As easy as it gets and If we’d won those two we’d be sitting in 3rd place right now with a game in hand.

  17. Really interesting article and interesting debate below the line. Thanks for this.

    I agree with many of the points made: I think fatigue is an issue for players like Walker and A-E, who have featured in many games outside of the league this season too. Corluka was no great shakes, but surely in games where we were 2 up with 15 mins to go, he could have been used to give Walker a rest. If not – then Naughton could have been recalled? Likewise with Danny Rose for A-E

    I would also add one thing not mentioned here – and that is Harry’s willingness to let players roam and ‘pick their positions’. I know it’s good for player morale, but it struck me while watching our cup replay v Stevenage, that Modric, VDV and Bale all wanted to play as the ‘attacking central mid’, and then Adebayor started dropping back to do the same thing – it was a mess for a good 60 mins. This whole phoenomenon only really came on in the new year following our win v Norwich when Bale moved into the middle. Like playing Saha with Adebayor, it worked only once.

  18. I agree the players have looked jaded in the last few weeks. The away defeat at the Arse seemed to knock the stuffing out of the team, and they haven’t fully recovered. Mentally they are struggling. If a team get in front against us we don’t seem capable of coming back.
    How much of this is Harry’s fault? He’s lauded for his man management skills. Well if that’s the case it isn’t working at the moment. I think he has definitely been distracted by the England job, which should have been sorted out straight away.
    He could still leave us on a high note if he can galvanise the team for the run in. If he can’t then it’ll be an opportunity missed, and he’ll leave for the England job on a low. Either way I can’t see him being at the Lane next season.

  19. Personally I wanted to sack Redknapp after last season; collapse which saw us win 1 game in 10 in the business end of the season, and culminated in the defeat away at Man C which conceded 4th place from a position of strength. Redknapp’s copmments following that alarming dip which suggested 5th was as good as it gets for Spurs were scandalous, and he should have noted that Martin Jol was sacked as 5th was not good enough. Redknapp’s refusal to accept any blame for poor perfromances really grates. Last season’s colapse came about when Redknapp played VDV on the right of a 4-4-2, partl,y due to Lennon’s injury and partly due to shoe horning his bext XI players into the team irrespective of balance. This season;s collapse has been alarmingly similar. The lack of pacey cover for our wide positions coupled with the refusal to utilise Pienaar or Kranjcar in their favoured positions as part of a rotatiopn policy has cost us dearly, and is 100% down to Redknapp. Thsi SPurs side shoudl have walked 3rd place after teh problems Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool have had. It (at the start of the season) was the better and more balanced squad. Unfortunately Modric, Bale, Walker, Ekotto etc have been played into the ground. I suspect Levy wil hold fire to get compensation for Redknapp rather than sacking him, which is the smart thing to do. He would have done us all a afavour by sacking him last May, and maybe then we wouldn’t be faced with him messing up our national team in th esame manner that Keegan did. Lampard and Gerrard in a 4-4-2? “Of course they can play together they are top, top players”.

  20. Your minute played stats only include League games. Do other game the players play have no effect on them? No. If you add up the minutes for all competitions then the 11 Spurs players have 31,066 minutes compared to the 11 United players 31,231. No real difference especially considering it includes Scholes who wasn’t there for half the season.

    The reason for this is United and the other Champion’s League team have rested players in the League so they could play Champion’s League. Tottenham on the other hand played mostly a reserve team in Europe and fielded their strongest eleven in the league week after week.

  21. I totally agree redknapp is devoid of any tactics what top side wastes every single corner and free kicks taken.
    Where are our quality strikers.
    The last two January windows have been wasted we had a chance to strengthen our squad which would have guaranteed champions league foot ball last year and this.
    At the moment we are favourites to finish sixth.
    People tell me there were no quality strikers around in January , Newcastle found one and they haven’t looked back since.
    Harry’s time is up its time for a new manager, if we lose players we will have to rebuild but at the moment it’s embarrassing being a spurs fan and explaining to other supporters our demise.

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