The Big Interview - Justin Edinburgh exclusive
Published: 06 Aug 2010 - 10:28:30
Football.co.uk's Joe Strange talks to former Tottenham and Portsmouth defender Justin Edinburgh to find out what he really thinks about Harry Redknapp, Pompey's problems and managing in the Football League.
Were you surprised to see Tottenham do so well last season?
No I wasn't to be honest. Considering the way they finished the previous season, I thought they would continue that sort of form into the new one. They've got a fantastic squad with a lot of young British players that Harry (Redknapp) has built his team around. I wasn't surprised whatsoever.
What do you think made them so successful?
Knowing Harry, he's certainly a manager who knows how to get the best out of players. Spurs have also made some great signings in the last couple of years. Luka Modric is a great player and really came good last year. Peter Crouch did well and Jermain Defoe seems to enjoying playing under Harry. With the likes of Clive Allen, Joe Jordan and Kevin Bond on the backroom staff, they've got a great group of people who have affected the players in the right way. Man management is a big part of football and Harry and his team have been top class in that aspect of the game.
Where do you think Tottenham need to strengthen the squad this summer?
I think they need to look at the midfield. Jermaine Jenas was a bit stop-start last year although he does have all the attributes if he manages to stay fit. We're still not sure if Robbie Keane is in Harry's plans so he might be looking at another striker to give him a few more options with so many games to play.
What can Spurs realistically hope to achieve next season?
I think they will certainly be challenging for either third or fourth place again. They have a massive Champions League qualifier coming up and if they get through to the group stages then the extra income will help them continue to challenge on a more regular basis. If they make the right additions to the squad, which is something I'm sure Harry is working very hard to, then I don't see why they won't be up there come the end of the season.
After leaving Tottenham you moved on to Portsmouth, what have you made of everything that's gone on at Fratton Park?
First and foremost I genuinely feel for the supporters. I only spent a short time with the club but the supporters are brilliant. Even when we weren't having the best of times we'd still take three or four thousand fans to away games and we weren't even in the Premier League. The fans have put their hard-earned cash into the football club and it's been mismanaged.
Some people are calling for them to be demoted from the Football League and I can understand that. Just because they've got good support it doesn't mean they should get let off. What's happened down there has been a massive wake-up call for everyone in football but it still seems like clubs are able to spend beyond their means to try and achieve success. There's a million lessons to be learned from what's gone on but whether they will be is another question. I'd love to see Portsmouth given a reprieve and continue in the Championship but we'll have to wait and see what happens.
Do you think Portsmouth can bounce straight back to the Premier League or are they more likely to go the way of Leeds and Southampton and drop down to League One?
That's a really tough question. The Championship is home to a lot of big clubs that will be hoping to mount a serious challenge this season. Portsmouth weren't a one-season-wonder in the Premier League so they still have a few players capable of helping them to go back up. I just wonder if they'll have a big enough squad to deal with the amount of games they'll have to play and the injuries they'll pick up along the way. I think a play-off spot would be the best they can hope for next season.
Since finishing your playing career you've moved into management, how have you found the experience so far?
I started at the lower end and have been gradually climbing the ladder ever since. It's been a fantastic learning curve and I've really enjoyed it so far. I started at my local side Billericay Town and I began to learn how to manage a football club rather than a team. You learn about finances and everything else that comes with it. You're given a budget and you can't overspend it as if you run out of money then players don't get paid and they end up leaving. I think I've had the right management upbringing but don't get me wrong, if someone offered me an opportunity right at the top then of course I'd take it. I'm now at Rushden and Diamonds which is a fantastic football club with great facilities. I'm enjoying every minute of it but there's not the the glitz and glamour of league football.
What are your ambitions as a manager?
I'd love to manage at the highest level, that being the Premier League, but whether I can achieve that is another matter. I came close to getting into the Football League with Rushden last season when we lost in the play-offs. I'm certainly improving as a manager and working my way up the levels. I feel that when I get there I'll be fully equipped for the job given to me.
You narrowly missed out in the play-offs with Rushden last year, what are your goals this year?
The Blue Square Premier is as tough as any league nowadays. Probably 75% of clubs in division are ex-league clubs, many with parachute money and good attendances behind them. We massively overachieved last year considering the budget I had but that helped bring some supporters back. We need to continue playing football in the right manner and if we perform like we did last year then I think we can make the play-offs again. That would be another fantastic achievement for me, the players and the football club.
Did you know you always wanted to be a manager?
I'd always been interested in the idea of management and so I used to take notice of training sessions and tactics while I was playing. I never fully planned on being a manager but football has always been my trade. If people were asked to go and find a new career at 35-years-of-age then most wouldn't know what else to do so it was natural for me to stay in football. I'd been in football since I left school and felt like I understood it and was knowledgeable enough about it to get involved management.
Justin Edinburgh was speaking on behalf of Premier Sock tape, the UK's number one selling football sock tape. For more information, please visit www.premiersocktape.co.uk
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