All eyes on self-anointed fackin’ football manager, Henry James Redknapp this weekend, as his oft abysmal QPR side are tasked with the responsibility of avenging their boss’s summer dismissal against the club who did a good deal of the dismissing. Well, all of the dismissing if we’re being honest.
There’s almost certainly some people who’d like to see karmic justice dished out in this meeting of minds- dirty great platters of the stuff if preferable. Those who believed Redknapp was just innocent collateral damage in a mad chairman’s scheme to run a football club into the ground. Why else would Levy fire the People’s Choice other than if he was a wibbling nutcase hell-bent of carnage?
True enough, the sun shone brightly on Tottenham during ‘Arry’s four-and-a-half year reign. Rock-bottom to Champions League quarter finals in one-and-a-half seasons is quite an achievement to put it mildly. There was heart-stopping stuff along the way, too. Redknapp’s now legendary vague tactical approach clearly lent itself well to a free-flowing laissez-faire brand of attacking football and it was one heck of a ride at times. But it was perhaps the England Manager-elect’s vision of the future where the troubles lay. In that, he didn’t seem to have one.
The old cliché that he’d taken Spurs as far as they could go is a tired one, but you can’t look beyond the fact that his last five major signings of his tenure at White Hart Lane were Adebayor (loan) Scott Parker (fairly injury-prone 31-year old) Friedel (mad old) Nelsen (?) and Louis Saha (busted up). Not exactly the foundations of a New World Order.
Now we’ve got ourselves one them contemporary football managers we’ve heard so much about, with everything geared towards safeguarding far beyond merely the next trading window. A young, dynamic coach to go with our sparkly new training ground and defined transfer policy. It’s Captain Buck Rogers in 25th Century. It’s the way forward.
In practically every way, Villas-Boas is Redknapp’s direct antithesis; his antipode; his polar opposite. Where one might tell a player to circumnavigate themselves along the apex of the centre-circle at a rate of 13.4km an hour, straight-talking ‘Arry would tell ‘em to round around a bit and stop asking so many questions. One’s the darling of the media, old china plates with the boys in the studio, always good for a quote; the other appears as an impassable smokescreen of Venn diagrams and convoluted business-talk. One is all about tactics and preparation, the other is, according to Rafael van der Vaart, er, not so much.
In the quest to tie together some neat narrative strands, the tabloids might be hoping for a QPR win tomorrow. They’ll use the headline Rope-a-Dope with the word ‘Dope’ in big red letters and everyone will nod their heads knowingly. Even if this is the case, and we do stumble against the League’s worst, I’m still mighty confident that we made the right choice and that our future is in secure hands. Indeed, even Mr. Redknapp himself is impressed with his predecessor’s work so far:
“He’s doing a fantastic job there and long may that continue for him. He got a job but it wasn’t my job. When he got the job I was out of work. I’ve got no problem with him. He seems like a nice guy.”
‘I don’t spend my nights worrying about what he’s doing. I will shake his hand and invite him for a drink whatever the result.”
Nice touch, Harold.
Quotes from the Daily Mail.
If ever there was a time to put into practice ‘Arry’s supposed finest attribute as a manager- that of being a devilishly good motivator of men- then perhaps this weekend is that time. Spurs are in a rut. And with very few weeks left of the season remaining, the burden is now not to discover exactly what has gone wrong with a campaign that had promised so much, but to pull the chaps out of this power-sapping funk and back into the rather useful habit of winning football matches.
Of course questions need to be addressed- most notably, how on earth we managed to exhaust a ten point lead and turn it into a five point deficit and why some of our best players appear to have been physically bankrupt through overuse- but this will have to wait for the warmer months. When, you get the sense, the winds of change will be a blowin’ riotously through the gates of White Hart Lane.
I am not going to cry.
Before that particular circus comes to town, however, there’s business afoot; Loftus Road, 5.30pm sharp. Be there or be… well, see if you can catch it on television or something?
QPR, a team who’ve irked out some memorable results in the last few weeks, appear to have been enlivened by those doomsayers who’d taken one look at their final run-in and insisted that it’d been an enjoyable ride while it had lasted and they’d certainly be sad to see them go. Now, home wins against Liverpool, Arsenal and Swansea and Mark Hughes has miraculously given Rangers a fighting chance. There are so-called experts who might suggest that the odds of survival would increase further, if they could keep eleven men on the field at all times. But I fail to see the fun in that.
For Tottenham it’s now very much everything or nothing. With Chelsea, Arsenal and Newcastle’s results all on the board before we’ve taken a whiff of the Spring evening air in West London, there’s every likelihood we could be trying to claw our way back from 6th. Which, when you say it out loud, is a rather miserable state of affairs.
So what’s the plan, then? I’m of the view that the idea of caution has become somewhat redundant. Home or away, with five games left, we ought to be trying to steam-roller this lot from the get-go, and all those that follow. You know, like the good old days. Off with the shackles, hope to god we’re not leaking like an old watering can at the back and release the bloody hounds, says this hopeful blogsworth. He’d also probably take a scrappy 0-1er but we shouldn’t get too bogged down with semantics. Five games, five wins. COYS!
Doing the Twitter-box like it’s going out of fashion. Which, by the time I get the hang of it, it almost certainly will be.
There’s a certain retrograde feel about the Premiership this year, what with Norwich and QPR knocking about on the shop floor. It’s like the mid-nineties again; a more innocent time when Trevor Sinclair, Darren Eadie, Les Ferdinand and Ruel Fox could justifiably call themselves king. (Well, perhaps not the last one.) It’s so Merlin sticker collection I can barely stand it. Things may’ve changed somewhat since the Hoops were last spotted lunching on the top table- Norwich’s absence has been less protracted, of course- but there’s a warm-hearted familiarity about their presence this season that I kind of like. So there.
But are they any good? A less than convincing second half against Chelsea last week- despite hefty numerical advantage- would suggest there’s room for improvement. While they eventually gasped over the line there was every chance the whole thing could’ve gone to the dogs. Or John Terry’s house, as it’s often called. I’ve not seen the stats to prove the point, but at times it looked as if they were totally overrun by the Chav’s depleted droves. The six-nil defeat at Craven Cottage didn’t look to clever, either.
As ever, we’re at the mercy of the footballing gods this Sunday- which means Adel Taraabt will likely have a vital role to play. Whether it’s bazooking (yeah that’s a word) an overhead-kick from twenty-five yards or getting a red for elbow-dropping the ball boy; you just know he’s going to be at the centre of it. Your predictions, if you’d be so kind. COYS!
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