Redknapp blossoms late to join stellar list – but taxing issue clouds the horizon

The first Englishman to reach European Cup last eight for 26 years would be a shoo-in for national job – were it not for looming trial

Before the final whistle sounded at White Hart Lane on Wednesday night, the last time an English manager had reached the final eight of the European Cup was Terry Venables with Barcelona in November 1985. Then Ron Atkinson was Manchester United manager; The hand of god still meant, in popular parlance, a natural disaster rather than Diego Maradona's supreme act of self-justification; And Venables would confide in English journalists that the wife of his star player Bernd Schuster had a habit of walking into the changing rooms to berate her husband's manager while most of the team were still in a state of undress.

Venables' team reached the final in Seville in May 1986 where they were expected to beat Steaua Bucharest. After a dreadful final that finished 0-0, they lost on penalties missing all four spot-kicks. Venables hung on until September the following year and was sacked.

It feels like a lifetime ago. Since 6 November 1985, when Venables' team eliminated Porto on away goals to reach the quarter-finals, more than 25 years have passed. Only on Wednesday night did Harry Redknapp finally fly the flag again for the brotherhood of English managers when he took his Tottenham side into the last eight of Europe's leading competition.

Jimmy Armfield, Bob Paisley, Brian Clough, Ron Saunders (who quit having reached the quarter-finals with Aston Villa in 1982) and Joe Fagan all achieved the last eight and better in the preceding 11 seasons to Venables. The fall-off since then says a lot about English managers – and not much of it good.

But Spurs' achievement does say a lot about Redknapp. The blossoming of his career has come very late. He was 64 this month, only four years younger than Venables. Unlike Venables, who got the Barça job straight from managing Queen's Park Rangers (will that ever happen again?) at the age of 41, Redknapp had to wait much longer for a big club. There is a good argument for saying that his career only really started when, in October 2008, he was put in charge of a Spurs team bottom of the Premier League.

Now, he can expect to be the England manager come a year in July when Fabio Capello will walk away after Euro 2012. All that stands between Redknapp and the England job now is the tax evasion charges scheduled for court in July.

That never seems to be very far from his mind, even in the aftermath of results such as Wednesday's draw with Milan. Redknapp has never been one for whom jubilation lasts much longer than the end of the game but some of his recent post-match moods have been flat even by those standards. There is no doubt he would be enjoying Spurs' season a lot more were it not for what awaits at the end.

That has been a concern for those close to him for some time but Redknapp himself voiced those preoccupations in an interview on Sunday. "I just want to get it out of the way and move on," he said. There is a compulsive urge to the confessional in Redknapp. He broaches subjects that would be well off-limits for other managers. It seems he cannot stop himself at times.

From a distance, the Football Association, and especially its new chairman David Bernstein, will be observing Redknapp closely. It knows he will never be bound by the same rules of discretion and protocol which previous England managers have worked under. But, providing he comes through the court case unscathed, he can be the only name on the shortlist to succeed Capello.

Bernstein, originally an accountant and naturally cautious, will not regard Redknapp as a natural bedfellow. He may even see in him some of the impetuosity of Kevin Keegan who, when he was manager of Manchester City, eventually fell out with Bernstein, then the club's chairman. But he too will look at what Redknapp has done with Spurs and wonder if he might not be able to do the same with England.

Redknapp has made a few signings of his own such as Peter Crouch and William Gallas, and the likes of Rafael van der Vaart and Sandro have been brought in by the club, but for the most part he has improved what was already there.

Looking back at the Spurs team from his first game in charge against Bolton Wanderers on 26 October 2008, there were seven players who played in that game who also featured in Wednesday's 0-0 draw with Milan. A further two from that game were on the bench this week.

He is not a hands-on coach but he has radically changed the staff. What do Spurs players say most about playing for Redknapp? They enjoy it. And while there may be a couple of big egos at the club, the spirit is excellent. They spent much of the build-up to the games against Wolves and Milan in Dubai, a trip that the players felt combined exactly the right amount of match preparation and relaxation.

The Spurs team that Redknapp inherited had won the Carling Cup final eight months earlier and there was undoubted quality in the squad. To the extent that there are some voices at the club who think that Redknapp's part in this success story is not as great as might be thought.

No one at Spurs, however, wants to be the one who tests the theory. When Redknapp gave consideration to a lucrative £3m net annual salary offered by the Dubai team Al-Ahli in the summer, there were some at Tottenham who would have been happy to let him go. Eventually, chairman Daniel Levy reached a compromise over the two-year option on his contract.

Now Redknapp' reputation as a manager is made. Success with Barcelona was the making of Venables even though he has not managed full-time since he left Leeds United in March 2003 at the relatively young age – for a manager – of 60.

In November 1985, Redknapp was in his second full season as Bournemouth manager in what is now League One at the start of a long journey to where he is today. If it feels that Venables stepped away from front-line management too early, then it is certain that Redknapp has taken too long to arrive.

How El Tel showed the way in 1986

Terry Venables was the last Englishman to lead a team to the quarter-finals of the European Cup, his Barcelona side making the final in 1986.

After beating Sparta Prague, a goal from former Spurs striker Steve Archibald helped the Spanish champions, also featuring German midfielder Bernd Schuster, see off Porto in the second round to set up a quarter-final with holders Juventus. Archibald again scored the vital goal in Turin and in the semi-final against Gothenburg Venables' side overcame a 3-0 defeat in the first leg in Sweden to win on penalties at the Nou Camp. However the pressure of winning the club's first European Cup proved too much and they lost on penalties to Steaua Bucharest in the final after a dreadful game finished 0-0.

From bottom to top: Harry's time at Spurs

26 October 2008 Succeeds Juande Ramos with Spurs bottom with two points from eight games. Beats Bolton and Liverpool, and draws 4-4 at Arsenal in first week.

January 2009 Jermain Defoe, Wilson Palacios and Robbie Keane arrive in transfer window.

1 March 2009 Leads Spurs to League Cup final, where they lose on penalties to Man United.

May 2009 Spurs finish in eighth place, missing out on European qualification by two points.

August 2009 Peter Crouch and Niko Kranjcar join as Spurs make best start in 49 years.

April/May 2010 Loses FA Cup semi-final to Portsmouth before wins over Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City secure fourth spot.

Summer 2010 William Gallas, Sandro, and Rafael van der Vaart arrive as Spurs beat Young Boys to reach the Champions League proper.

February/March 2011 After topping group, a Peter Crouch goal is enough for Spurs to beat Milan.



Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?