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Harry Redknapp's Tottenham feats deserve more than a cartoon soaking
Published : 06 May 2010 00:02:16
Not now. After steering Tottenham from the foot of the Premier League to Europe's premier category in 18 months, it is time to get serious about Harry. Bullied indeed. This was not a victory for the underdog but the better side. Redknapp's quaint transfer lament with its allusion to City's pulverising pockets, expressed widely held envy and brought a tart response and the mobilising of lawyers. The blue moon should rise above it. Related ArticlesMancini: I'll be here next seasonLiverpool toast Spurs victoryMan City 0 Tottenham 1Harry Redknapp secures place in the history booksDebate: How will Spurs fare in the Champions League?Man City 0 Tottenham 1: as it happenedRedknapp is the first lord of propaganda, brilliantly schooled in the art of shifting ground to suit his ends. His targeted submissions were a diversion intended to disguise a balance of power on the pitch that he always knew favoured Tottenham. Spurs have the deeper squad, the greater spread of talent and a momentum swing steeper than their rivals for fourth spot. Yet here he was casually laying on the hysteria. Would you Adam 'n' eve it, lads? Fate has stuck at Tottenham kit on Sisyphus. The injustice of it all. Codswallop is clearly not the only part of the coaching enterprise in which Redknapp has expertise. 'I've not done well in this game because I'm a mug,' he reminded observers. 'Yeah, it's nice,' he said when invited to expand on his emotions. Nice could be worth as much as £30 million were Redknapp to steer Spurs into the Champions League Final. Fanciful no doubt, but the improbable is becoming Redknapp's forte. Only three years ago he was contemplating retirement had Portsmouth not won their final away game at Wigan, the climax of a run that yielded 20 points from the final ten games and Premier League status for another year. There was also the FA Cup he placed on Pompey's sideboard. At 63 there is no let-up in his desire to succeed. 'I'm still on the road every day at 5.30am. I drive home again at night. I love the job. What would I do with retirement. That's not for me.' For one game at least Redknapp was happy to play the cheerleader for the green-eyed tendency that sees Manchester City at the point of an arrow heading towards the Premier League summit. They can rest easy for another year at least. It was of course all part of Harry's game. Were City's Gulf owners to send a camel for Harry with an offer to lead the Eastlands project, or alternatively dip into the petty cash to acquire Spurs, he would be happy to draw up a shopping list that featured talents far greater than Craig Bellamy and Wilson Palacios. Not that we should feel sorry for Redknapp as it is. A key plank in the Tottenham ownership structure, Joe Lewis, is a billionaire financier exiled on the Forbes rich list and the Bahamas, hardly at the single-cell end of the food chain. Away from partisan concerns the progress of City and Tottenham towards the Champions League offers a refreshing, new narrative, and a renewal of sorts. Both are clubs with established identities and traditions engaged in a visceral yearning to escape oppressive shadows. For too long City and Spurs have laboured in the lee of Manchester United and Arsenal. How much better for the game that they are able to land punches of substantial weight. The big fixture in May has not always been of this magnitude for City. It was just 11 years ago remember that they required an injury time goal from Paul Dickov to take Gillingham to extra-time in the Second Division play-off final. With 89 minutes on the clock City were 2-0 down. It was, of course, the week of the two goal riposte, City's escape, triggered by Kevin Horlock, no less dramatic than United's three days earlier in Barcelona. Now England's upper tier has its Manchester axis back, and in Eastlands a setting finally acquiring the fervour of Maine Road. City are not far away. The fell marginally short due largely to a smaller pool of dependable operators, and perhaps as a consequence of changes made in haste in the manager's office. This fixture offered a subtext that runs deep in the football debate; the merit of English/British versus foreign coaches. Roy Hodgson's improbable odyssey to next week's Europa Cup Final with dear, old Fulham has cornered the romantic vote for the honour of manager of the year. The Redknapp resurrection at White Hart Lane is arguably the more significant achievement. He deserves a crack at the Champions League, and the progress of another English coach is surely welcome. Apart from his scarf, City fans would struggle to identify a style point introduced by Roberto Mancini that distinguishes his work from that of Mark Hughes. What City needed in the early exchanges was a gear stick to change the pace. Executing at 100mph has got burn out written all over it, and becomes with each frenzied attack easier to read. Spurs, in contrast, were more measured, offering the kind of poise and control born of solid progress and victories over Arsenal and Chelsea. As the adrenalin cooled the match fell under the spell of circumstance. Tottenham needed only to avoid defeat to retain their advantage. None could argue that the goal when it came it was not merited nor that it represented a just return on their season's work.