What comes to mind when we think of Harry Redknapp? Charisma. Passion for the game. Great Man-Management. But for me, one other phrase comes to mind: Over-rated.
I am the first to admit, Redknapp has had a very successful coaching career and I do not begrudge him his status as one of the best coaches in the English game. His job at West Ham United was admirable- with the 1999 Intertoto Cup Win and record high league position of 5th being two particular highlights in a period where the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Michael Carrick were brought through the academy. And let us not forget the turnaround at Tottenham, where he turned their hapless start to the season and perhaps set the wheels in motion to them becoming the side they are today.
However, when I heard that Redknapp was linked with the England job I must admit my heart sank. Despite his obvious strengths as a manager I must admit to holding the somewhat controversial opinion that Redknapp is in fact overrated. Let’s look at the facts.
Of course, Redknapp is one of the best man-managers in the game and every indication shows that players enjoy playing for him, and feel comfortable with him, but I do feel that Redknapp falls short when it comes to the meticulous tactical planning it takes to become a top manager. Redknapp is well known not to be the manager that pays the most attention to detail- with victories not normally coming because of his meticulous planning and preparation, but because frankly he has a better squad at his disposal than the opposition manager. Whatsmore, Harry Redknapp is widely known to be illiterate and with the risk of sounding harsh, by being so he is lacking a fundamental skill of management?
Whatsmore, if you look at his major successes, most of them have come as a result of him spending large amounts of money on big players (often with dire long term consequences). Although we look at his success at Tottenham as due to him throwing large amounts of money at his squad the prime example here of course is Portsmouth. Yes, Redknapp won on F.A. Cup with a comparatively small Premier League side but surely most managers could have achieved similar feats with the amount of money he had spent on Pompey’s side? Peter Crouch for £11million. Jermain Defoe for £9million. Younes Kaboul for £6million. Sulley Muntari for £7.1million. Not to mention the millions forked out of the likes of Kevin-Prince Boateng, Benjani, Sylvain Distin, Sol Campbell and Lassana Diarra. Surely most managers could achieve a good degree of success with the sheer amount of money that was invested in Pompey by Redknapp?
And of course it is well documented that Redknapp has very little financial discretion- he does not know when to stop spending for the good of the club. Again we need only look at the financial trouble Portsmouth are in to see an example of this. Ask a Portsmouth supporter the question would they rather keep their 2008 FA Cup win, or the secure future of the club that is currently out of reach (which can be attributed to Redknapp’s spending quite a bit) and the response would be quite interesting. Of course I am not laying down the blame squarely at Redknapp’s door for Portsmouth’s sad demise- because of course the owners did promise him the money- but certainly, his overspending was a big part of it.You do fear that Redknapp could take QPR down a similar road. Big wages, small ground and small turnover. This was the formula that downed Portsmouth. It seems that Redknapp does not learn his lesson from previous clubs.
I do not want this to sound like a completely derisory rant about Harry Redknapp because make no mistake about it, I like him as a manager. I think his man management and some of his investments have been second to none. That said, I do feel we glorify him to much. He is tactically lacking and sometimes certainly has a distinct lack of financial discretion that has proved costly for clubs before and perhaps will do again. For every inspired signing such as Luka Modric or Sulley Muntari, there is a flop like Giovanni Dos Santos or Kevin Prince-Boateng.
Yes, Harry Redknapp has his strengths- but I do feel like his strengths are exaggerated too much. Most managers could have achieved what he has done with the budgets he has had- and it was certainly the right call by the FA to choose Hodgson as England manager due to his superior tactical preparation and planning.
I am a Harry Redknapp fan and he is a good manager. But thats all he is. We must be under no illusion as to Redknapp’s ability.
Redknapp will never be as good as he is often made out to be, and sadly- he never has been.