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Martin Samuel: Harry has pulled off a miracle... so why isn't he loved at Spurs?
Published : 29 Jun 2011 14:45:16
ShareJose Mourinho was approached by Tottenham Hotspur on the day he left Chelsea. Several times, so he says. They ended up with Juande Ramos instead and just over a year later, with the club bottom of the League, Harry Redknapp arrived. It is a testament to Redknapp's skills that even had the directors succeeded with their original plan to lure His Specialness to White Hart Lane, Tottenham could hardly be in a better position than now. Yet, do the owners appreciate this? Among the Tottenham supporters en route to Madrid yesterday there seemed an air of resignation about Redknapp's long-term future at the club and it went deeper than the simple presumption that he will succeed Fabio Capello as England manager after the European Championship in 2012. Lapping it up: Redknapp and assistant Kevin Bond share a joke with the players in Madrid There are some outsiders, such as Match of the Day analyst Alan Hansen, who argue Redknapp has taken Tottenham as far as he can, but that is not necessarily true, either. The excellent base of this squad can be built upon and improved, which is why the interest of many managers, not least Mourinho, would be piqued by the thought of following Redknapp. Tottenham's playing staff has at least as much potential as the Chelsea squad Mourinho inherited from Claudio Ranieri. So why, in a week in which Redknapp goes further in European competition than any English manager at an English club since Joe Fagan with Liverpool in 1985, is there a growing belief that he and his employers no longer fit. Do Tottenham truly know what they have got? And, if so, what is not to like? Unloved? Redknapp believes the Spurs chiefs should be grateful for his contribution to the club It is already well established that Tottenham would not stand in his way if the Football Association wished to make him the successor to Capello. And while most club chairmen acknowledge the pull of international management - particularly England to an Englishman - plainly something is not quite right. Tottenham play Real Madrid in the Bernabeu on Tuesday night and with another tilt at the Champions League still a possibility next season - although a repeat of last May's victory at Manchester City next month looks increasingly essential - these should be the happiest times for club and manager. Redknapp has been brilliant for Tottenham, and vice versa. The club have given him the opportunity to thrive among the elite and he has repaid them, handsomely. So why does there appear an air of mild dissatisfaction around the place? That is the big question. Nobody knows. Asked whether he thought the club valued the job he had done since arriving less than two years ago, Redknapp's answer was illuminating. 'If they've got any brains they do,' he said. 'If they haven't, then they won't.' It was what an English teacher would know as the subordinating conjunction that offered the clue. 'If' the board had brains it would know what had been achieved by Redknapp in his brief time at White Hart Lane. If. The way they were: Levy (left) had put his faith in foreign managers, a move which left the club languishing at the bottom of the Premier League under Ramos (right) The manager, however, wasn't giving any guarantees that this higher intelligence existed. In short, he hoped they had the wit to respect him; but he couldn't be sure. 'Getting into the top four position is so difficult,' Redknapp continued. 'When have Tottenham finished above Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United? I haven't seen it and I must have missed it if it happened a few years ago. 'And look at Manchester City: if they don't finish in the top four having spent ?140million in the summer then there's something wrong somewhere. But we're still right in there, we have game in hand on City, we've had a little blip and a difficult couple of away matches but we're only five points behind Chelsea. 'The past few years we've been 18, 20 points off them or even more. I don't know whether people appreciate me or not. I don't care. 'As long as I know have done a good job, that's all that matters to me. I don't need other people to judge. I don't worry too much what they think.' Tottenham's revenue increased from ?53.5m to ?79.8m during the six months to December 31, 2010, reflecting the importance of Champions League football, and it was Redknapp who put the club there when a series of foreign coaches had failed. More from Martin Samuel... Martin Samuel: Comolli can't just bank on Little Britons28/06/11 Martin Samuel: We've got a hot one in cool Andy! Prince William backs a winner (this time) 27/06/11 Martin Samuel: Losing my record to a Plastic Brit has left me devastated26/06/11 Laura's bubble bursts as Sharapova struggles to straight sets victory24/06/11 MARTIN SAMUEL: Tony Blair is just a regular bloke with a ?6m mansion23/06/11 Martin Samuel: McIlroy's right, there is no magic wand, it starts with the people21/06/11 Martin Samuel: So, what's left to make the Toon swoon?20/06/11 Martin Samuel: Rory McIlroy has handfuls of style in his little finger19/06/11 Martin Samuel: McIlroy's laughing again after putting on his serious face at Congressional17/06/11 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE Yet, chairman Daniel Levy's immediate reaction to the release of those figures last week was to talk of streamlining Redknapp's squad. That will not have gone down well with a manager who used the match with AC Milan in the previous round as a platform to call for the club to strive for even greater success. Redknapp believes his team is one or two players away from challenging for the Premier League title, not just the fourth Champions League berth, and he has never been subtle when faced with a main chance. Tottenham tried to buy big in the last transfer window, yet Redknapp still talks like a man unconvinced of the board's ambition. Something does not add up. Mourinho, eyeing a return to the Premier League - or an escape route from Madrid in the event of Barcelona sweeping the board, as seems likely - is known to see Tottenham as a potential future employer and experience suggests the admiration is mutual. Yet, why would Mourinho be perceived as less troublesome, or demanding, than Redknapp? Indeed, why would Tottenham wish to contemplate returning to a continental set-up when their greatest success in recent years has come with an old-fashioned Englishman in charge, calling the shots with no buffer between him and the board? Maybe that is what Levy does not enjoy, the direct involvement. It must be far easier to give decisions to a middleman - such as former director of football Damien Comolli - and have him break any bad news to the manager, rather than be put on the spot by Redknapp personally. And Redknapp is high maintenance in that way. He pushes and pushes to get the best squad money can buy. Not his money, obviously. This can become tiresome for a chairman. Yet, Levy is a big boy and, unlike some of Redknapp's previous employers who blamed his persistent nature rather than their own weakness for becoming overstretched in the transfer market, he has demonstrated admirable resistance under pressure. At the start of last season, Redknapp was angling for a goalkeeper and a central defender; in particular David James at Portsmouth and Matthew Upson at West Ham United. Levy thought Tottenham had spent enough and refused. This season, he was said to have had a lot to do with the acquisition of Rafael van der Vaart, a deal which haspaid dividends but was apparently not high on Redknapp's list of priorities. Surprise signing: Spurs chief Levy led the decision to bring in Van der Vaart Mystery surrounds the eleventh hour attempt to get Charlie Adam from Blackpool in January. Did reticence on Levy's part scupper the transfer? If so, why make lavish deadline day bids of more than ?30m for Giuseppe Rossi of Villarreal and Sergio Aguero of Atletico Madrid? Could it be that previous Tottenham managers were part of a consultation process, but ended up getting what they were given, while Redknapp is more headstrong? Could it be that the telephone call from the Football Assocuation cannot come soon enough, and Levy was as disappointed as any Welshman that Capello's reconfigured England team gelled in Cardiff last month? Perhaps Tottenham, like a number of other clubs, will only come to appreciate Redknapp's talent when he is gone. It is certainly a puzzle. As the good times continue to roll for Tottenham, why should there be even a hint of trouble in paradise?