Hasta la vista, ‘arry: Will Man Utd’s Louis van Gaal terminate the career of QPR boss Harry Redknapp?
Rumours abound that Harry Redknapp, who hates being called a Wheeler Dealer because he’s a “f***ing football manager” when he’s not ghost writing newspaper columns, making non-sensical betting adverts, flogging yet another book about himself or commenting that he doesn’t like to comment on other people’s players before buying and then selling them again and generally being a bit of a wheeler dealer, could be sacked if Queens Park Rangers lose at home to Manchester United this weekend.
If indeed this weekend is to be Harry’s denouement, how will he be remembered? In footballing terms, of course, not in a ‘what a shame he was taken away from us in his prime’ kind of way.
It’s not like he’s going to be terminated by Louis van Gaal at the final whistle if he loses the game, even if there is a touch of Arnie’s woodenness about the Dutchman’s general manner and his clipped tones as he explains to us yet again, as if addressing a room of five-year-olds, in what seems to be a never ending series of pre and post-match interviews about why fielding a team with three central defenders who would make good lampposts, a couple of failed wingers at full back, Wayne Rooney in midfield and three more central defenders and someone called James Wilson on the bench is the philosophy of a genius rather than the philosophy of a lunatic, and once the players understand this philosophy the heavens will open, the planets will align and Robin van Persie will stop being useless.
A former West Ham United player, Redknapp started his managerial career at Bournemouth where he stayed for 10 years. Harry left Bournemouth mid-table in the old Third Division after becoming disillusioned with the lack of funds and resources available with the club mid-table in Division Three.
Bournemouth subsequently went bust.
Redknapp returned to West Ham, initially as assistant to his old friend and West Ham legend Billy Bonds before later becoming manager after some boardroom shenanigans and alleged back-stabbing, which may or may not have happened depending on whether you think he stabbed his old friend in the back to get the West Ham manager’s job or not, like Billy Bonds does. Not literally stabbed, of course. I’m not suggesting for one moment that he would wound with intent.
After being sacked by West Ham, Harry joined Portsmouth as director of football where, after a short time in a text book execution of the role, which is typically to wheedle out the incumbent manager as quickly as possible, he was made manager.
Redknapp then famously didn’t walk out on Portsmouth and didn’t go down the road to Southampton before then equally famously quitting to go back to Portsmouth after Southampton were relegated through no fault of Harry Redknapp’s.
Southampton subsequently went bust. Although to be fair that hasn’t worked out too badly for them.
After saving Portsmouth from relegation and winning the FA Cup by assembling the footballing equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters, Redknapp left Portsmouth to join Tottenham.
Portsmouth immediately went bust not for the first, nor the last time and were subsequently relegated because they had to sell all their players to finance £119m worth of debt and through no fault of Harry Redknapp’s.
Harry’s next call was Tottenham for whom he promptly re-signed half the Portsmouth Globetrotters and took them into to the Champions League despite being hindered by the presence in the team of that useless lump Gareth Bale, who Harry was unable – despite his best efforts – to offload to Birmingham, Nottingham Forest or Hamburg.
Redknapp’s achievements at Spurs led to him being widely touted for the England manager’s job in no small part by himself while simultaneously pointing out that he had a contract that bound him to Tottenham – a conundrum which Daniel Levy helpfully solved by sacking him.
To be fair, Spurs have subsequently neither been relegated nor gone bust, just in case you think a spurious link is being drawn between Redknapp’s transfer activities and clubs subsequently going bust and being relegated. That most definitely is not the case.
Unfortunately for Harry, the England thing never happened, something to do with his dog’s VAT and Harry’s inability to read, if memory serves.
After being linked with the position of Ukraine manager, which would have been a hell of a long, not to say dangerous drive for Kevin Bond, Harry’s next role was closer to home with Queens Park Rangers, whom he promptly managed to relegation to the Championship in his first season, through no fault of his own.
Today QPR are once more staring down the barrel of relegation from the Premier League and reported to be £177m in debt through no fault of Harry Redknapp’s.
With the team unable to pick up points away from Loftus Road and with the tactical genius of Redknapp’s celebrated assistant Glenn Hoddle having mystifyingly departed as quickly as it mystifyingly appeared, some pundits are of the opinion that after a long and illustrious career Harry’s enthusiasm for the fight may be on the wane, a view given weight by the fact that he is now happy to take telephone calls mid-match.
The man himself claims that he still has great desire for football management and the job at QPR. It is safe to say that Redknapp is not a quitter or the precious sort who would flounce off at the drop of a hat if he doesn’t get his own way. Certainly not unless he gets a better offer or is sacked.
So, if this weekend’s game does signal the end for Harry’s managerial career, while he may not be remembered as the best manager that England never had since Brian Clough was the best manager that England never had, it is likely that, despite his faults, he will be remembered as the best manager that England could have chosen instead of Roy Hodgson.
Javier Mascherano indeed…