Players deserve sympathy when manager departs

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Since Fabio Capello resigned from his post as England manager in February, Harry Redknapp has quite rightly been installed as the overwhelming favourite to succeed the Italian.

Redknapp's credentials for the position appeared to be relatively unquestioned, with Tottenham enjoying their finest season in recent memory, and seemingly mounting a genuine challenge for the Premier League title.

But any slight doubts harboured over the 65-year-old's suitability to lead England have edged closer to the surface as Spurs continue endure a dreadful run of form.

Spurs have played nine games since Capello decided to relinquish his role; winning only twice - against Newcastle and Stevenage - and taking just five points from a possible 18.

Unsurprisingly, the assertion has been made that this barren spell has is directly linked to England's supposed interest in Redknapp - and vice versa - with the Spurs squad loath to lose their manager at the end of the season.

This, of course, is an easy claim to make and, perhaps not one entirely without foundation, yet Redknapp does not see it this way.

"Absolute nonsense. That is the biggest load of nonsense I have ever heard in my life," he told the press last week, prior to weekend draw with Chelsea.

"They don't care whether I'm the manager next year. They wouldn't lose any sleep over that. That's football.

"Footballers play the game, they come in every day and train. Someone else walks in here tomorrow – the king is dead long live the king! They don't worry. They don't think 'Harry is going to England' or 'he is going to go somewhere else'."

Redknapp has certainly been forthright in his denial of claims the Spurs slump is correlated with Capello's resignation but, then again, the former Portsmouth manager would be.

Agreeing with press reports that his players have been affected by the speculation would only serve to further upset the apple cart at White Hart Lane, whether Redknapp actually believes in the suggestion or not.

One person who certainly backs Redknapp's statement that players operate with a mentality of 'the king is dead long live the king,' is outspoken former Derby midfielder, and now pundit, Robbie Savage.

Speaking to BBC's Football Focus, the ex-Wales international said players have no qualms over who the manager is as long as they are 'getting paid and are in the team'.

It comes as no surprise that a player with a reputation such as the one Savage has would approach the game with such a philosophy, but surely this is not the case for all professionals.

There is no doubt that Savage's point has some validity, but there have certainly been examples where the loss of a manager has been treated by players like the loss of a loved one.

When Jose Mourinho left Chelsea so abruptly in September 2007, it came as a shock to his squad, and Didier Drogba has since claimed tears were shed in the dressing room as the Portuguese said an emotional farewell

Were these players thinking about their respective salaries as Mourinho left Cobham for the last time? No, but they felt a genuine sense of bereavement as their manager departed.

Conversely, there will have been players who rejoiced at the prospect of Mourinho leaving the club, having fallen foul of the Real Madrid boss during his three year stint at Stamford Bridge.

Loyalty in football is clearly a commodity rarely found in the modern game yet, if money is the driving force behind the careers of some players, they should be admired for their ambition.

However, the cynical view of Redknapp and Savage does not hold water with all professionals, and Spurs players will undoubtedly be saddened to see the former leave the club.

Although it may be unfair to suggest the thought of losing Redknapp is affecting Spurs' form, the prospect is surely in the back of the mind of his charges.

Emotional attachment is a human condition that cannot be helped, and perhaps football players should be afforded the same sympathy as anybody else when faced with the likelihood of losing someone they hold so dear.

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