Harry Redknapp has always been full of surprises and once again he hasn't let us down. But is his departure really as bad for Tottenham as it's being made out to be? Yes, but then again, not really.
First and foremost it's only fitting that us Spurs fans thank Harry for the work he's done at White Hart Lane, after all no one can argue that he hasn't left the club stronger than when he joined.
Three and a half years ago Harry was appointed manager of a club rooted to the bottom of the league, a fact that he reiterated in every interview for the next year and half. At the time there was a lack of any structure at the club, as there had been in truth since the start of Daniel Levy's tenure as chairman and this was mirrored by performances on the pitch.
It was a bold decision by Levy who finally after a succession of foreign flops (Jacques Santini and Juande Ramos anyone?) ruthlessly demolished his continental style hierarchy and swiftly promised a return to old school football. And who better to teach at the football old school than 'Arry, the wheeler dealer king himself. It turned out to be an inspired move which paid instant rewards and in the long term started to build a confidence in the fans which had been absent for a generation.
Three and a half years and a second fourth place finish later Levy has decided it's in the club's interest for Harry to move on. But is he right?
It's undeniable that this season has been a massive disappointment. Fourth spot in any other season would have been deemed a great success at a club which can't compete with the likes of Chelsea on a financial scale, and indeed this would probably have been the target set by the chairman. However this was no ordinary season. After Christmas, all was rosy at White Hart Lane, the team were cruising in third place whilst playing with a panache harking back to the old (okay, very old) glory days. The blame for the implosion which saw us tumble from our pedestal and eventually miss out on that coveted Champions League place has to land at Redknapp's door for a myriad of reasons.
The capitulation started, although Harry still denies it, with his being linked to the vacant England post. Since that moment he wasn't the same manager and Spurs weren't the same team. Instead of playing with that purpose which had propelled them to be outside title challengers the players found themselves passing the ball from one side of the pitch to the other like a bunch of shy school kids scared to have a shot on goal. And it wasn't just mentally. Mystifyingly, Redknapp decided to change the system which had been working so well and after a run of dire performances very rarely thought it worthwhile to return to it.
The England job wasn't the only distraction Harry brought upon himself either, although now firmly brushed under the carpet we mustn't forget that he had to take a couple of weeks off mid season to appear in court (oh and the weeks he spent in hospital for his heart op, but I won't blame him for that one). To his credit Harry had become the heart and the soul of Tottenham Hotspur and to have him go AWOL had to have affected the atmosphere at the club as much as he and his assistants tell us otherwise.
Upon his appointment many Spurs fans were excited at the prospect of Harry doing what he's best known for, pulling off some unexpected transfer deals and he certainly didn't disappoint. The last minute deal to bring Rafael van der Vaart to White Hart Lane for £8 million is perhaps one of his greatest to date. This past season though has shown a dithering Redknapp who shipped out many squad players in January only to be caught appallingly short on resources when injuries bit. In fact since the season has finished this trend has continued with fringe players like Niko Kranjcar being allowed to leave with no replacement on the horizon.
It may well be that Levy feels the end of last season demonstrated that Harry has taken Tottenham as far as he can and he may well be right, after all Redknapp has never previously been more successful in league football than with Tottenham. Also during the time that Harry was expected to be England bound, Levy surely started to consider replacements and he could well already have someone in mind who he feels would be a lot less hassle than Redknapp.
At the same time however Harry will be dearly missed. He's undoubtedly one of the best day to day man managers in world football, the fact that Adebayor wants to stay at a club is testament to that fact. He seems to have built a real rapport with the players with one of my abiding memories of the man being his soaking at the hands of David Bentley after securing Champions League football.
It's losing this side to Redknapp which is the main concern. Having missed out on the coveted European football many were already expecting an exodus at The Lane, with the likes of Modric leading the way. It now seems inevitable that players will add disenchantment to a lack of mega bucks to their list of reasons to leave.
Similarly, it'll be interesting to see who Levy can persuade to take up the helm at Spurs. Without the Champions League he surely will have to settle for B-list managers, but the sad fact of the matter is that without an A-lister it's going to be a real struggle to keep players let alone bring in new ones of a quality to improve the Tottenham starting eleven.
It's for these reasons that Harry's departure spells the start of a disturbing summer for Tottenham fans who already will be rummaging through their wardrobes looking for that well worn jacket of cynicism they thought they'd never wear again.
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