Monday, 21 February 2011

How long can the anti-Harry brigade hold out?

Tottenham travel to Blackpool tomorrow sitting in fourth place, two points in front of Chelsea and two points behind Man City in third having played one game less.

Whatever happens at Bloomfield Road, it is a formidable position to be in and yet still some people find reason to question the manager and his methods.

Last week I read people commenting that he should rotate the squad more to avoid so many injuries, others that he needs better strikers and some have even suggested that Harry Redknapp lacks what we need to get to the "next level".

Sorry, but just how many levels do we need to rise, and what more does he need to do before everyone is convinced that Redknapp is one of the best managers we've ever had? Certainly in recent history at the very least.

I would never do disservice to Martin Jol because his consecutive Top 5 finishes after a decade of chopping through the mid-table wilderness, continually cutting ourselves free of the thorny undergrowth further down, were a massive achievement.

Even though Redknapp often trumpets the PR line that he took over "a team bottom of the table, with two points from eight games", it has to be admitted that the side was, in general, upwardly mobile before the Ramos saga ground to such an embarrassing halt.

But Redknapp's influence was instant and has been long-lasting. Under Jol, our record against the big teams was appalling and we lacked both the fitness and character for long seasons and massive European nights.

Jol's manner in front of the cameras after a bad result told us that he didn't know what went wrong and, at times, that football wasn't the be all and end all of things. Redknapp knows that even good teams lose and he isn't prepared to dampen the team spirit just because we've played well but couldn't find the net.

Everyone knows that Redknapp is a motivator and a man-manager, but he has proven so much more. Tottenham can now go to Stoke and Blackburn and 'win ugly'. We can grind out results when we aren't on top form, we can dig out a priceless touch of genius in the 92nd minute and we can seemingly now adapt our tactics to mix it with the best sides in Europe.

Redknapp has not only had an influence over the way we play, but also the way the club is run. Before him, Daniel Levy was soldiering on with the director of football system, which just wasn't working for us. It was undermining managers and confusing everyone.

Martin Jol fell foul of the system, performing brilliantly but never really having the board's full backing, they only begrudgingly gave him the job after Jacques Santini quit, leaving Levy's great vision of a director/manager/coach was absolutely in tatters. Juande Ramos was its next victim.

Redknapp came in and said: "Do it my way, or not at all." He coaches, he picks the team and he has a first-hand input in the players we acquire.

In the past, Tottenham made cock-up after cock-up in the running of a football team. Obviously, that's easy to say in hindsight. But I used to look enviously across at Arsenal who had passing football, a long-term manager they believed in and top-to-bottom organisation and think, "S***. that's how to run a football team."

Nowadays, I'm immensely proud of the way the team is run. We play great football, the whole of Europe is watching us with bated breath and, when I tell people I'm a spurs fan, their eyes light up and they love to talk about it.

I don't think it's going too far to say that when Levy fired Ramos and his staff, and brought in Redknapp, it changed everything. He has already taken us to the "next level" and, if you can't see that with your own eyes, then you're missing out on a fantastic time to be a Spurs fan.

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