How nice it must be to have “people”. Ricky Hatton has them as, no doubt, does Harry Redknapp. People to tell you what is going to happen and what to say to placate the baying mob of interrogators at press conferences and on television talk shows; a sort of weather forecaster for life.
Redknapp must love the PR mob behind his autobiography, especially after they managed to wangle a slot on The Jonathan Ross Show, where the host helpfully glossed over glaring gaps in the Queen’s Park Rangers manager’s memory.
We have already read parts of it, serialised in a newspaper, like the episode about how, as Bournemouth manager, he went to Enfield Town in search of a player and missed out on signing Ian Wright. Too right he missed out, because at the time he was writing about Wright had long since headed for Crystal Palace.
Of course none of this was brought up on Saturday night when he was on Ross’s sofa, straight after his nephew Frank Lampard, the Chelsea and England midfielder. Lampard did a lot to perpetuate the image that he is a genuinely nice person and actually told us something we didn’t know when he said he was glad his Uncle Harry did not get the England manager’s job, because of his fear that allegations of favouritism might crop up, as they did at West Ham. No such insight from ’Arry. We got “Roy Hodgson is a great [England] manager” and that was as far as current events went.
Not that we were helped by Ross’s questioning. Someone should have told him we had already heard Redknapp was “relieved” not to be offered the England job when Hodgson landed it in 2012. And how we laughed at his answer to whether he would have done anything different from Hodgson: “Yeah, I’d have picked Frank. And brought [my son] Jamie out of retirement.” You could almost hear the script sheets rustling.
On Redknapp being cleared of tax evasion in February 2012 – which is also detailed in the autobiography – Ross tentatively ventured a “you must have been worried” before he swerved the talk on to lighter subjects like “what’s it like being a manager?” Cue the already-published anecdote about Redknapp sending on a disgruntled fan as a substitute for Lee Chapman in a West Ham pre-season game against Oxford City. Which, even though we know the Ian Wright tale has more holes than a block of Emmental, must be true – it’s in his book.
While the “people” were invisible on Jonathan Ross, they bookended the brilliant, unremittingly grim Hatton’s Last Stand, which concentrated on the lead up to the boxer’s last fight. They were there at the start, attempting to coach Hatton in what “the story” was at a pre-fight press conference and at the end coming close to high-fiving each other after they had hit upon a decent line from the clearly distraught fighter after he had suffered a knock-out by Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Senchenko.
But they needn’t have bothered. Hatton was open and smart enough to tell his own story (“I needed one more fight to see if I had still got it – and it isn’t there no more”) and he had built up a genuine respect from the boxing hack fraternity, as was shown when he looked downright sheepish in the press conference when the assembled journalists spontaneously applauded.
It was a touching moment, which could not have been engineered or managed by anyone’s “people”, no matter how hard they tried.