What’s the deal with Harry Redknapp?

Sean Lunt

When referees blew the final whistles across the Football League, there was jubilation and despair up and down the country. And at  St Andrew’s it was the former, with Harry Redknapp the saviour of Birmingham City.

Parachuted in with just three games remaining, Redknapp somehow kept the Blues in the Championship against all odds. It’s a remarkable achievement by anyone’s reckoning. It’s not the first time that Redknapp has been in the headlines but what is the deal with him?

The more modern perception is that he’s something of a footballing dinosaur; in fact, many have started to ridicule him in recent years following the failure at Queens Park Rangers and the strange decision to take the Jordan national job.

In truth, though, Redknapp is anything but a joke, with his time spent at both Portsmouth and Tottenham Hotspur, a testament to that.

Of managers that have managed more than 100 games, Redknapp enjoys the third best win percentage at Spurs. He sits in second and third for his two spells at Portsmouth, not a bad record at all.

His second spell at Fratton Park was a successful one, winning the FA Cup and leading them to eighth in the Premier League; he remains the last English manager to win a major trophy.

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Even at Spurs he proved his quality, taking them to fourth in the table on two separate occasions and into the Champions League quarter-finals

That’s the furthest the Lilywhites have ever gone in the competition – even Mauricio Pochettino hasn’t equalled it. Yet.

There’s also the style of the football he had both sides playing, Spurs, in particular, were extremely entertaining. In truth, his time in charge was the catalyst for the title-challenging side that many are enjoying today.

It’s that record that should have seen him get the England job back in 2012 but for the FA inexplicably picking Roy Hodgson.

Have a look back at social media from that time and everyone in English football was advocating his appointment. The last five years may have been entirely different for the Three Lions had he been at the helm.

His renowned man-management skills could have gone a long way to solving the psychology that continues to plague the national side.

The idea of him being a wheeler-dealer is one that’s been unfairly thrown at him as well. Sure, Harry likes spending money but his list of players brought in includes some stellar names.

The likes of Rafael van der Vaart, Niko Kranjcar and Paolo di Canio would never have plied their trades in England if it weren’t for him; they’re just three of numerous smart signings.

Another plus point is the long list of England players have made their Premier League debuts thanks to him; Joe Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker all received theirs under his management.

Redknapp is a figure that splits opinion and that’s something that will likely continue until he truly retires.

Those that don’t like him will label him a wheeler-dealer, point to the money he has spent and the relegations he has suffered and write him off. Most already have.

But the magic he has weaved with Birmingham has gone some way to improve his tarnished reputation. His history shows that it was actually unfair it was ever in that state in the first place.

 

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