Martin Hardy: How the FA can win with Harry's game
Even an initial part-time role up to Euro 2012 would work, while England could be set free by Redknapp
Will Harry really walk out on Spurs?
Do not get blinded by the job Harry Redknapp has done at Tottenham, or the emotional backing that he has received through such a difficult period of his personal life. Yes, Redknapp is well thought of at White Hart Lane, witness the backing he received during the recent Wigan game from the fans, and the support he received from within the club was so strong he praised it on the courtroom steps on Wednesday.
But within Redknapp lies a huge patriot immersed in the memory of Sir Bobby Moore. This is the job he has spent 30 years cultivating, from Bournemouth to West Ham United and to that FA Cup final victory with Portsmouth. The failure at Southampton is forgotten because it suits. Redknapp showed then, in his moving between two south-coast rivals, that he will do what is right for him. If the England position is offered now, it is right for Redknapp. He will be given either a two- or a four-year contract. That is more stability than most club managers can dream of, no matter how much he is in vogue at the moment.
Could England cope with a part-time manager?
There was a brief intake of breath yesterday at Newcastle when it was suggested Fabio Capello had never been to a game in the north-east during his four-year reign as England manager.
He had, as it turned out, intended to make the trip once to St James' Park, but got snowed in and, way back in 2009, he turned up at Sunderland, when they were playing Chelsea. Four years and one trip to the north-east (you can get from London Kings Cross to Newcastle Central Station in two hours 51 minutes on a good day).
It leads to a question quite neatly about whether England could cope with a part-time manager. They've done pretty well for the last four years it seems.
As witnessed at the last World Cup, only when Capello was thrust into centre stage, did things fall apart. Full-time, in the heat of an actual tournament, was so much more of a problem. He seemed to have forgotten what it meant to communicate with his footballers, and that was before the obvious language barrier intervened.
Can Redknapp do England on a part-time basis?
Redknapp will have watched more Premier League games than Capello in the past. He will be watching more Premier League games than Capello now and in the future. He will also be watching Premier League games when Spurs, or England, or anyone else for that matter, decides his time in football management is finished.
It is what he does. He watches football. He talks to his friends and his family about football. He speaks to other managers about football. He has his ear to the ground.
To suggest he cannot take care of the England side on a temporary basis (it is one game) until the end of the season – if that is a possibility until he is ready for a permanent role – is ridiculous.
There is an opportunity here if Redknapp is to be given the post – and surely the Football Association will strive hard to get his signature – for a form of a settling-in period. He does not need to do the job full-time now. That is the point. England have qualified. The high-intensity, boot-camp barracks that Capello attempted so disastrously in 2010 no longer fit with modern footballers. That rules out the need for an intensive week – or even a fortnight – which the team need to spend time bonding together.
Redknapp could have a nice little get-together a couple of days before the Netherlands game, reintroduce himself to a bunch of players he already knows. Then they go back to their clubs and he goes back to the intensity of a final push for either the Premier League title or Champions League qualification with Spurs. No danger of Redknapp not studying the form, again, that is something he does. He will track and watch the players. Tottenham have 12 games of their season remaining after England's friendly this month.
What is the precedent?
Domestically they are largely irrelevant in terms of temporary managers. Joe Mercer was England's caretaker manager for seven games in 1974, he even took charge of the side in the Home Championship. It was not a short-term appointment with a view to full control.
Sir Alex Ferguson had a run of 10 games in charge of Scotland between 1985 and 1986, following Jock Stein's death. Ferguson took his Aberdeen coach, Archie Knox, with him when he was on international duty. He took Scotland to the World Cup in Mexico but doing the job on a permanent basis did not seem a long-term solution and he returned to club management.
How will Harry change the side?
Nearly four years after Fabio Capello took control, England still did not have a style, or their manager's stamp. Perhaps that is as much to blame as anything else for the failure to take to Capello. He could have been cold and incapable of speaking a word of English if there had been a fluency and a language his players brought to the white shirt, but they never did. Sir Bobby Robson had a semi-final with West Germany. Terry Venables had that victory over the Dutch. They were games when a style emerged that enthralled the nation. Even Sven Goran Eriksson blew away the Germans in their own country. Capello had a few decent away wins in qualifiers and a reminder that England friendlies at Wembley are joyless, soulless affairs.
Redknapp does not have to do too much to improve on that – admittedly, he does not have Gareth Bale available for England. What he will do, if the perception here is correct, is to take the shackles off his players. Redknapp will want them to go out, to play and to enjoy themselves. He will tell Wayne Rooney he has always thought he was one of the best players in the world. He will give Ashley Young greater licence to express himself. Steven Gerrard will be told to play like he does for Liverpool and you cannot see Frank Lampard being pigeon-holed into worrying about his defensive duties.
Redknapp speaks passionately about England having some of the best players in the world. That will add substance to his position when he gets his new team together and tells them that. Expect more freedom of expression from Redknapp's side. That will contrast with the image of Capello hitting and shouting at Stuart Pearce on the England bench.
Will he fill the team with Spurs players?
Well Bale and Luka Modric, his two best players, are ineligible, and Jermain Defoe has had a few moans about not starting regularly for Spurs so do not expect him to be overjoyed if Redknapp gets the post. This feels like a flawed fight to pick with the manager. Redknapp will want to succeed in the England job. Picking Michael Carrick and Michael Dawson just because they are, or indeed were, two of his boys does not make a great deal of sense. Given the ambition the new manager has shown to fight his way to the very top of the domestic game, Redknapp will select the players he feels will guarantee him success as England manager, not those that got his Spurs side into Europe.
Is it always the favourite who gets the job?
Kevin Keegan was the people's choice after Glenn Hoddle was forced to resign in 1999. That did not end too well. Eriksson had a phenomenal CV once the argument had been won that England could only win a major tournament if they turned to a foreign manager. Capello had won major honours wherever he went, language and cultural barriers were not supposed to be a problem, so people did not question his appointment. He was helped by the failure of Steve McClaren, the only Englishman of the last three national managers, an appointment that felt like a default setting.
Perhaps if Redknapp gets the job it will feel a bit more like the Robson and Venables tenures. Both had good, strong records and were respected amongst fans, players and sections of the media.
Double trouble: End of fake Fabio
Wednesday night's abrupt resignation has claimed another victim – Fabio Capello's look-a-like will also have to hang up his England blazer and find another way of earning a living. It is safe to say the look-a-like was not picking up £6m a year, but garden fetes do not open themselves.
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