Football

Redknapp the cartoon character pays the ultimate price

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Redknapp must now concentrate on Tottenham (©GettyImages)
Redknapp must now concentrate on Tottenham (©GettyImages).

Outside of Notre Dame de Paris, amongst the hordes of tourists, sits the usual variety of street performers plying their trade.

 

Amidst the Marionettes and mimes sits a caricaturist, vigorously working his angled pencil and parchment, constructing grotesque images of willing participants.

 

He produces hooked-nosed, eye bulging, sneering vignettes, highlighting the best and worst of those who subject themselves to his withering imagination.

 

Harry Redknapp himself has offered to sit down in the chair before a caricaturist, offering himself up as a character to be accentuated and mocked .

 

Redknapp is a manager who lives his life in monochrome, without a nuance or shade of gray. He stood in the dock back in February, faced with a tax evasion charge, drawing his own sketch as a bumbling simpleton who struggles to pen a team sheet as he rose to become the populist choice to lead the Three Lions.

 

"I am completely and utterly disorganised. I write like a two-year-old and I can't spell," he told police interviewers. "I have never written a letter in my life."

 

His portrayal as a simple creature extends to his footballing philosophy as well. Rafael van der Vaart tells a story of arriving at Tottenham to find the tactics board gathering dust, a shock to the system having arrived from a tactic-induced coma under Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid.

 

Emmanel Adebayor similarly extolls the virtues of man who game him his ‘life back’ by setting him free from a similar spell under the ‘Special One’ upon arriving on loan at the Lane.

 

Of course, it is his simplistic approach that sets him against the grain and delivered him to the front of the cue as replacements for the misguided Fabio Capello.

 

A swashbuckling Spurs swept him along upon a wave of general consensus which declared him the man to rid the England set-up of its ills; a breath of fresh air to a set up that had thrown over £40 million at the problem for over a decade.

 

Never before has there been such public fervor for one man to become England manager, nor has one candidate been so heartily endorsed by the men he is destined to take charge of.

 

Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney both threw their considerable weight behind the Spurs manager in the aftermath of Capello’s farcical resignation. A penny for both player's thoughts now.

 

Now he is hoisted by his own petard, painted into a corner of his own making accentuated by Tottenham’s recent poor run of form - but the flaws which have handed Hodgson the advantage in the race are simply not as black and white as they seem.

 

Back in February, Adrian Bevington, managing director of Club England outlined the new, all encompassing role the England manager would have to fulfill, chief commitment of which was to the new footballing academy in Burton, St George’s Park.

 

Insipid name aside, St George’s Park represents the lifeblood of the national game in this country and has been afforded pride of place amongst the list of tasks to be undertaken by the new England boss, something which has handed Hodgson a clear advantage over Redknapp.

 

The maverick Redknapp only wants to deal with the first team, they say. He wants to guide the elite and to hell with the 26 other England teams to use St. George’s Park’s facilities.

 

But how does that portrayal explain the passion which takes him from his home in Dorset to training at Spurs Lodge? How does it explain that he spent the eve of the biggest day of his career, Portsmouth’s 2008 FA Cup final win, watching the League Two play-off between Darlington and Rochdale?

 

And if there is one man who can have a say on what it takes to develop into an international footballer, surely it is Redknapp, who nurtured the likes of Joe Cole, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick and Rio Ferdinand at West Ham?

 

Redknapp may favour a simplistic approach to football, but that is not to say he is a simpleton; 25 years as a manager usually teaches a man a thing or two about the game. His maligned and lauded tactical approach offers shades of grey that observers aren’t willing to concede over. Redknapp is a character, and pays the price for it.

 

The cold light-of-day argument for Hodgson’s anointment as the next man to sip from the embellished poisoned chalice stands to reason. Hodgson, a man who has overseen 80 international matches and guided a national team, Switzerland, to a major tournament, ticks all the boxes.

 

36 years, 15 clubs and three national associations all add up to one experienced, hard nosed manager. He may not be the fans’ choice, but he has FA approved stamped all over him to go along with his meticulous, well-drilled training ground approach. He is a hands on man who can mould, the perfect fit for the National Football Centre.

 

He is known as methodical and prudent, in many ways he is the antithesis of Redknapp. Simon Davies, who played under Hodgson describes how every day in training was ‘geared towards team shape’, and that his charges were willing to take the monotony of his approach because of the success it bears.

 

Redknapp stood upon the stairs of Southwark Crown Court in February and declared his ‘nightmare’ over, and with it announced himself as the new England manager elect.

 

What he couldn’t envisage was that his performance that had exonerated him of all guilt cast in stone a persona that would ultimately cost him his dream job.

 

After avoiding a sentencing of one kind he is destined to serve another for the remainder of his footballing days.

Topics:
Internationals
Football
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