Over the last month we’ve seen Redknapp linked to any job with an under fire manager. Ipswich, QPR and now Bournemouth (where he currently works in an advisory role), have all been linked to the former Spurs manager. But is bringing Redknapp in such an astute choice in terms of managerial expertise? Has Redknapp’s reputation as ‘the best English manager’ surpassed his actual ability to successfully manage a football team?

I’ll admit I was a relieved man when Roy Hodgson was given the England job over Harry Redknapp. Redknapp is of course a superb man manager, but where he falls down is his tactical knowledge of the game; a trait that is essential in international football given the small amount of time he would be given with his players. Hodgson, although not backed by the majority of the tabloid press, seemed an impressive candidate, with vast international experience, and a managerial career that has spanned 36 years, 19 clubs and seven nations. Admittedly, experience isn’t always the hallmark of success, but it was a reassuring thought that Hodgson brought more to the table than a career solely in English football.

                                                                             Source: Graeme Bandeira

But as Hodgson prospered, Redknapp had a poor 2012, slipping down the table, and out of the Champions League places due to Chelsea winning the cup, and overtaking them as the fourth entrant from England. Redknapp’s year went from bad to worse, as he was sacked as manager of Tottenham; the club citing disagreements over pay and a poor end to the season as reason for his departure.

Spurs’ 2011/12 campaign got off to a great start, and they found themselves in third place coming into February, amassing 50 points in 26 games. Then, Fabio Capello resigned as England manager, and the press refused to believe that anyone other than Harry Redknapp deserved the job. As a result of this, Redknapp and Tottenham were unnerved, and a serious drop of form was apparent, despite a 5-0 win the weekend after the vacancy was announced.

After the England job was vacated, Redknapp managed just five wins from 12 games, two of which were against relegated sides (Blackburn and Bolton), and took 19 points from a possible 42, and only one away win from seven. During this run of poor form, Spurs dropped from third to fourth, down to fifth, but then reclaimed fourth, where they finished. Although fourth seems an impressive position for Spurs to finish, if you remember the form they were in prior to Capello’s resignation, the disappointment that follows their slump outweighs the dispelling of pre-season predictions. Also, fourth was an almost uncontested position last season; only Newcastle offered up much competition. The spot fought over by Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and others was seemingly unwanted; poor league performances from Chelsea and Liverpool allowing Spurs’ slump to go unpunished.

However, even with the loss of form, surely Redknapp’s sacking was slightly harsh from the Tottenham board? He had after all transformed the club from relegation battlers (when he took over in 2008, Spurs were in 20th place), to European regulars, and even guided them to a Champions League spot. Alas, the board decided that it was time for Redknapp to depart the club, and Andre Villas-Boas was given the job, and the tabloid press went apoplectic with shock.

Since then, Redknapp has done some punditry work for the BBC, and taken up an advisory role with AFC Bournemouth, the first club he managed. Today, it was announced that Paul Groves, was sacked as Bournemouth manager, paving the way for the glorious return of ‘Arry Redknapp.

But is that really a good idea for Bournemouth, or any team in fact? What credentials does Redknapp bring to a job, and what does he expect from them in return? Let’s look at the pro’s first.

Firstly, Redknapp’s man management is something to be applauded. Redknapp instills a confidence in his team to play above expectations, and as a result a respect is created from the team to the manager and vice versa. However, it should be mentioned that Redknapp is not fond of squad rotation, and as a result is if a player finds himself out of favour with Redknapp, it’s likely your days are numbered at the club. Look at Darren Bent as an example of this.

Secondly, Redknapp does carry the reputation of a competent manager, and as a result any team that brought him in shouldn’t fear a backlash from that fans, and similarly from the players. In fact, if he does become involved in coaching Bournemouth, the short term morale should soar, both on the pitch and off.

Thirdly, and perhaps his greatest skill, is his ability to sign good players for a lot cheaper than you’d expect. Of course, the ‘wheeler dealer’ title is something his strongly distances himself from, but even he can’t deny that he has a talent in the transfer market.

However, his talent in the transfer market can also be seen as a negative thing, particularly if a team is in financial trouble. Below is a table showing Redknapp’s preference in changing his team around and bringing in new players that suit they football he wants to play. (source – Bleacherreport.com)

Team Dates Managed Players Signed
 Money Spent APBPS*
         
Bournemouth 1983-199

19 

 £1.2m

2.1

West Ham 1994-2001

58

 £52m

8.3

Portsmouth 2002-2004

41

 £7.65m

20.5

Southampton 2004-2005

8

 £2.6m

8

Portsmouth 2005-2008

32

 £68.3m

10.6

Tottenham 2008-2012

16

 £226.93m

4

*Average number of players bought per season

Interestingly enough for Spurs had a low number of personnel changes per season – Only Bournemouth is lower. However, Portsmouth’s 10.6 changes per season (on average) seems a fair medium, and illustrates how much Redknapp likes to change his squad around. If a team did employ Redknapp, one of his conditions would probably freedom in the transfer market, if funds allow it. Could Bournemouth finance it, and if QPR employ his services, would they be happy to have yet another squad overhaul to suit Redknapp’s taste?

Also, at 65, Redknapp is hardly at the age where he can give a considerable amount more in terms of years at a club. Five more years would be pushing expectations, and even then who knows if his heart will be in it, and his hunger as apparent as if he had been offered the England job. An older manager shoudn’t be expected to mastermind a dynasty that he won’t be part of in years to come, so any hiring of Redknapp will have to be short term orientated, which does stunt the growth of a club in years to come.

Perhaps the biggest criticism of Redknapp is his lack of tactical knowledge, and the conservatism in his approach to changing his tactics to suit opposition. Barcelona can get away with having only one style of play and being successful, but for Spurs to play the exact same style against Swansea, Stoke and Manchester United, then questions have to be raised as to whether Redknapp’s tactical knowledge is holding his team back. Redknapp has a strong mind when it comes to how to play football, and that has stopped his club matching teams who have found how to exploit his tactics. In Spurs’ last two seasons, the second half of the season is weaker than the first, and that can put attributed to teams working out how to play them, and Redknapp unable to adapt on short notice.

In conclusion, the idea of Harry Redknapp at the helm  of your club may be a mouthwatering prospect for a fan, but if you consider the long term effects that his employment could have on a club, then I wouldn’t consider him an ideal candidate. In order to compensate for his impending retirement, clubs would either have to limit his transfers (something I’m sure he wouldn’t agree to when joining a club), and ultimately rob him of one of his traits, or allow him to shape the club in his image, and as a result,  his replacement be suited in the style he has moulded the team. Not many teams with Harry Redknapp on  their shortlists have the financial capabilities to fund multiple overhauls in the club’s playing staff. Although it may not be the grandest way to call time on his career, we may have to accept that the sight of Redknapp in the top flight is not the best idea for anyone involved, except of course, ‘Arry Redknapp.