Lee Dixon: Gallas is a bad captain but he's a great player. That's why Redknapp has taken the gamble

The Weekend Dossier
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It has never been a tougher time to be a manager in the Premier League.

They are, of course, well rewarded for what they do but the demands of the job are getting ever greater while the time they are given to complete their projects gets ever shorter. It has been a challenging week in particular for a couple of them, but while the future looks bright for Harry Redknapp after he staved off potential disaster in Switzerland, it is more difficult to be optimistic for Roberto Mancini.

The spirit that Tottenham, after an astute change of direction by the manager, showed to come back from three down to keep alive real hopes of reaching the group stages of the Champions League is what Mancini needs to instil in his side, and that will not come easy.

A result like that can be something of a blessing in disguise. Any thoughts of being carried away with last season disappear pretty quickly when you are three down in a flash. They did well to drag that back and – as long as they go through come the second leg – I don't think Redknapp will have been too disappointed at the end.

Tottenham played some great football last season, but every team has a moment during a season when they have to pull themselves together. As a player there are times when it just doesn't feel right and you have to ask a team-mate for help. It is how a team comes through games like that that makes the difference. If players are not versed in the team ethic then the responsibility becomes a burden. That is why Redknapp will have been pleased with what he saw.

Given all that, it is something of a surprise that he has signed William Gallas. That is a bit left-field for Harry. Gallas's reputation goes before him. Kolo Touré said he left Arsenal because he could not work with him, there was the infamous sit-down at Birmingham, and, after Gallas had criticised team-mates Arsene Wenger felt he had to replace him as captain.

Gallas deserved the criticism he received but as soon as he lost the captaincy he knuckled down and showed good form after that. That may be the case at Tottenham. Maybe Harry thinks the old school type of management that is his forte will be sufficient to keep the harmon he has fostered. It is a risk, I think he is relying on William's maturity and thinks he will get on with his game and not cause any problems.

It is certainly an area Spurs need to strengthen and Harry must have looked at his experience, his caps and figured there was no one better around.

Arsène has said his reputation was exaggerated, he was just highly motivated and could be impulsive. But a captain, the figurehead, cannot afford to shoot from the hip. He has to be diplomatic and think of what to say, and what not to say. But while he may not be a good captain Gallas should be an asset as a player. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if the Frenchman's arrival affects the team dynamic Harry has worked so hard to build.

Creating a team ethos doesn't happen overnight, as City may discover to their cost. It doesn't matter how many quality players you buy, it takes time to fashion a team – and that is something Mancini, for all the money at his disposal, does not have.

As a player you have to learn the intricacies of the men you are lining up alongside. You have to see how they react when you all trudge into the dressing room at somewhere like Blackburn on a cold, wet Tuesday night. At Arsenal, if players looked uncomfortable when we got to a game you used to nudge Tony Adams and he would go over and shout at them – but that doesn't work for everyone!

It's a learning process, like starting at any new job or school, and you would reckon on around a quarter of the season until City will really be clicking as a team. Until then they may have to rely on individual performances to drag them through – last Saturday it was Joe Hart – and the experience of the older players like Patrick Vieira, who are capable of moulding into a new club. Experience matters in the dressing room.

There were positives for City from the trip to Spurs, not least that they managed to avoid defeat, but it is difficult to judge them properly yet. If they are not up there in or about the top four by Christmas, Mancini can expect to be looking for a new job. He is well aware of that, as are the players, but players are selfish. They know the consequences are that the manager loses his job, while they stay put. Mancini faces a huge test in keeping the men who will decide his future happy. It could be the most difficult task he faces.

Take Mario Balotelli – the Italian could be Mancini's make-or-break signing. It is a lot of money to spend on a player who has a lot to prove and who has a reputation for toy-throwing. Now there's James Milner as well – where is Mancini going to play them all?

Management is a tougher job these days than in the past, and this season they have the added complication of the squad restrictions. There will be some massive egos on the bench and in the stands at Eastlands. In my 22 years as a pro I never came across a player who was in it just for the money – everyone wanted to play, and while there is more of a mercenary element today, the majority still want to be on the field and not stuck on the bench.

Where there is a difference today is in a power shift towards the players. They are less likely to simply respect the manager's decisions. When George Graham was at Arsenal, Michael Thomas got into a contract dispute with the club. He spent a whole season literally training by himself, just him and a ball. That wouldn't happen today.

There is a different mentality among players and it makes the manager's job more difficult. The pressure on them is huge, with the demands of the media, agents swarming round and everything else when all they really want to do is pull on a tracksuit, get on to the training pitch and get creative. Redknapp is one manager who seems unchanged by it all. He is still of the old school and it is good to see him doing so well. He is never afraid to adapt, as he showed in Berne on Tuesday by switching from 4-4-2 to 4-2-3-1. Tottenham, and Redknapp, look as if they are there to stay at the top end of the Premier League. As for City and Mancini, we will have to wait and see.

Five Asides

1. We're up for 2018 cup bid – so we won't fail

I cannot see any reason why England should not win the right to host the 2018 World Cup. Everything is in place in this country and you know the atmosphere in every ground would be fantastic, given the passion and enthusiasm for the game here.

2. Opportunity knocks at open door for Dawson

You have to make the most of any opportunity. If Jonathan Woodgate had stayed fit he and Ledley King would probably have been first choice for Tottenham, but injury opened the door for Michael Dawson and he is now one of the best English centre-halves.

3. Koscielny looks a real natural in Arsenal shirt

I was impressed by Laurent Koscielny's debut at Anfield. The Premier League is an initial culture shock for players from abroad, but watching him against Liverpool he looked right in an Arsenal shirt and his partnership with Thomas Vermaelen has the makings of a good one.

4. Balotelli's not half bad for a 'rubbish' signing

I've yet to see Mario Balotelli play so when he arrived at City I asked my son, who has, what he thought. "He's rubbish," he said. Anything to add? "No, he's just rubbish." A goal on debut is not a bad start then for someone who is "rubbish"!

5. Scholes deserves his place in the limelight

Last week I mentioned how impressive Paul Scholes was in the Community Shield. He was even better on Monday against Newcastle. When you get to his age and are playing so well you just want the games to keep on coming. He may not like the limelight, but we are making a fuss of him on Football Focus today.

Dixon's Verdict

Arsenal vs Blackpool

Dixon's verdict: It was refreshing to see how Blackpool played at Wigan, coming out and having a go. I hope they take the same approach throughout the season, although there will be games where it costs.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Setanta Ireland; Highlights BBC1, 10.30pm)

Prediction: Home win

Birmingham City vs Blackburn Rovers

Dixon's verdict: Blackburn had a good start to the season, while Alex McLeish's Birmingham came back well to draw at Sunderland after being behind early in the game. These two look difficult to separate.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC1, 10.30pm)

Prediction: Draw

Everton vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

Dixon's verdict: Everton had a poor start to the campaign at Ewood Park, although they are my tip to be the surprise success story of the season and I expect them to have something in hand against Mick McCarthy's men.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC1, 10.30pm)

Prediction: Home win

Stoke City vs Tottenham Hotspur

Dixon's verdict: Tottenham look to have a decent depth to their squad now, but with Luka Modric out and Peter Crouch their only fit striker, going to a place like Stoke will be a key test, but I expect Spurs to survive intact.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC1, 10.30pm)

Prediction: Away win

West Bromwich Albion vs Sunderland

Dixon's verdict: Roberto di Matteo will be looking for a reaction from his side. They had a horrible time at Stamford Bridge, but I don't see them getting anything to make up for that here against a vibrant Sunderland outfit.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC1, 10.30pm)

Prediction: Away win

West Ham United vs Bolton Wanderers

Dixon's verdict: How bad were West Ham last week? They will need a 100 per cent improvement today. Owen Coyle's side won at Upton Park last season but Avram Grant can get them whipped up enough to take a point .

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC1, 10.30pm)

Prediction: Draw

Wigan Athletic vs Chelsea

Dixon's verdict: Same question as with West Ham – how bad? And the answer is probably even worse. Wigan beat Chelsea last season but you cannot see anything other than a comfortable Chelsea victory here.

Kick-off: Today, 5.15pm (Sky Sports 2; Highlights BBC1, 10.30pm)

Prediction: Away win

Newcastle United vs Aston Villa

Dixon's verdict: Home games will be important for Newcastle. They did OK at Old Trafford, and while Villa looked excellent against a dire West Ham, Chris Hughton's side can get something here.

Kick-off: Tomorrow, 1.30pm (ESPN; Highlights BBC2, 10pm)

Prediction: Draw

Fulham vs Manchester United

Dixon's verdict: Fulham have taken the honours for the last two years but United were very impressive against Newcastle – it was a good start and I fancy them to ruin Mark Hughes' home debut and take a narrow win.

Kick-off: Tomorrow, 4pm (Sky Sports 1; Highlights BBC2, 10pm)

Prediction: Away win

Manchester City vs Liverpool

Dixon's verdict: We have to wait till Monday for the best game of the round. Both teams will have been content with a point from their opening games. City will be fired up and that gives them the edge.

Kick-off: Monday, 8pm (Sky Sports 1; Highlights SS1, 12.30am [Tues])

Prediction: Home win

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