James Lawton: Levy's realism let Redknapp build the team of his dreams
He has made a side of lovely creativity without the need for an ocean of red ink
Harry Redknapp has had a few nightmarish days just recently and he faces the potential for a few more when he stands trial for tax evasion in January. In the meantime, though, it is hard to imagine anyone in football better qualified to sing a few lines of that old Lovin' Spoonful hit "What a day for a Daydream".
They came to mind, at least here, when Redknapp, just a few days out of the operating theatre, greeted Tottenham's eighth win in nine games with the arresting declaration that his sweet-flowing team might just finish at the top of the Premier League.
You can call it what you like, including fantasy or perhaps a bad case of amnesia in view of what happened when Manchester City performed such clinical destruction at White Hart Lane early in the season, but some romantics will surely be tempted to sing along.
Remember those lyrics?
"What a day for a daydream,
What a day for a daydreamin' boy,
And I'm lost in a daydream...
Dreamin' bout my bundle of joy."
Redknapp's hard-eyed old pro coach Joe Jordan naturally counselled caution when Redknapp celebrated with such enthusiasm his team's rise to third place with a typically eloquent defeat of a cowed Aston Villa.
Jordan talked in more measured tones of Tottenham's ever-strengthening claims for a place in the top four and a return to the Champions League action they illuminated so brilliantly for a little while last season but, still, it wasn't so hard to understand some of Redknapp's exhilaration.
Not many trades are so insistent on living in the moment as the football one and Redknapp was in a way merely following the instruction of the great old football character Joe Mercer, a high achiever both as a player and a manager. "Never forget," he advised his protégé Malcolm Allison, "to celebrate your victories because in this game you can never be sure when the next one will come along."
No doubt Joe would have said the same to the man who is obliged to move from that operating theatre to a courtroom via a high pressure phase of the season which will culminate in a trip to City. Granting him the indulgence of a little pure optimism shouldn't be too much of a push for any neutral occupant of the football planet.
Few midfields have been quite so easy on the eye as the one comprising Luka Modric, Rafael van der Vaart, Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon, a unit always beautifully geared for attack and now superbly underpinned by the security offered by Scott Parker. Currently, Redknapp may indeed be a daydreamin' boy but who can say he hasn't done his work with consistent invention and enterprise? He has made a team of lovely creativity and considerable bite and without the need for an ocean of red ink.
However, it also needs to be said that in a football age hardly littered with examples of loyalty and commitment and even the vaguest attempts to live within your means, Redknapp has received an outstanding contribution from his chairman, Daniel Levy.
Some of us suspected that this somewhat austere figure from the world of big money was merely cranking up the profit levels when he stood so firmly in the path of Chelsea's plan to sign Modric. There was, after all, the precedent of Dimitar Berbatov, who got his move to Manchester United on the transfer deadline as Spurs were enriched by more than £30m.
But the more Chelsea and Modric applied pressure, and the more Modric mourned his lost chance to join the likes of Yaya Touré and Wayne Rooney on the financial superhighway, the more obdurate Levy became. At one point the worldy-wise Redknapp was close to cracking.
He spoke mournfully of the difficulty of remotivating a player who had thought he was so close to a life-changing fortune. Perhaps, Redknapp theorised, Spurs should cut their losses, sell Modric at the top of the market and re-invest in a player who would be more inclined to immerse himself in the club's future.
Levy was immovable – and he insists that it will be precisely the same story with Gareth Bale when Barcelona, or some other mega-force, begin to apply the kind of pressure which prised Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri away from Arsenal and near broke Arsène Wenger's heart.
Redknapp's own heart has, of course, received another kind of buffeting, but then it has been at no cost to his belief in a certain way of football – or his right, at 64, to be the same kind of daydreamin' boy who, when he was a youth player at Spurs, hung on the words of Bill Nicholson, Danny Blanchflower and Dave Mackay – and, when he moved to West Ham, played alongside Bobby Moore.
If anyone wants to argue, he can quote some other lines of that old song, the ones that say:
"And you can be sure that if you're feeling right,
A daydream will last along with the night,
Tomorrow at breakfast you may pick up your ears,
Or you may be daydreamin' for a thousand years."
Either way, sweet dreams, Harry.
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