Humbug Harry stands firm on Christmas ban
Spurs manager says golf trips, days at the races and festive nights out are old-fashioned and of little interest to most of his players
Harry Redknapp continues to stand by his decision to forbid his Tottenham players to hold a Christmas party, suggesting such festivities are outdated and claiming his young charges, rewarded handsomely for playing football, should be prepared to forego a team night out for the good of their brief careers.
Spurs' Essex training ground has this week been decked out in blue-and-white tinsel as the club get into the Christmas spirit, but Redknapp's outright ban on a party – imposed two years ago after Robbie Keane and 15 team-mates travelled to Dublin without their manager's permission – remains firmly in place, despite a number of Premier League rivals, including Manchester City, permitting their players an evening of festive revelry.
Redknapp, who escaped a Uefa charge over his gesture to Shamrock fans on Thursday night, laughs off the suggestion his stance qualifies him as the Premier League's Grinch, though. The age-old excuse that spending social time in each other's company proves beneficial on the pitch is not only misleading, according to the Spurs manager, but has become a myth the players no longer believe.
"We've had our Christmas party," Redknapp joked. "It was two years ago, and it was good, thanks. They enjoyed it. No, we are too busy playing football. There'll be no more Christmas parties. There are too many games. We have got to keep at it. They can have a Christmas party when they have a six-week holiday in the summer.
"They are earning fortunes, they have great careers, great lives, so they can get on with their football instead of causing problems at Christmas. If they can't behave themselves and if they have a problem because they miss having a drink, given the money they're earning, there is something wrong with them.
"If I said to you, you're going to earn £40,000-a-week but you can't go out at Christmas and have a drink, I think you'd be quite happy to take it. I'm not the only [manager to ban parties]. It's nothing but aggravation. There is nothing worse than waking up in the morning and seeing players falling out of nightclubs.
"So the players have not even asked me. I have spoken to Michael [Dawson] and Ledley [King] and said we're not [having one]. Anyway, if you asked them about a Christmas party, some of them might go on sufferance, but I can name 10 who really wouldn't want to go. They are not interested. They would rather go home and be with their families. You get a few who want to go out, but there's not too many here now. Go and ask Luka [Modric] if he wants to go out. It wouldn't interest him."
Such an attitude, of course, forms a sharp contrast with Redknapp's playing days, when, as the 64-year-old admits, a group of players drawn from the same area would happily socialise with each other away from the game. The change in approach, though, does not herald the end of team spirit, as far as Redknapp is concerned.
"It doesn't have any effect," he said. "They play fantastic football when they are all together on a pitch. They get on together in training. I wouldn't think the players would [be interested in extra-curricular team-bonding of any sort]. I took them to Cheltenham races one year, got a box, thought it'd be a lovely day for everyone, and they all sat there for two minutes and wanted to go home. I don't bother any more.
"Half of them don't want to do it. You fix up a golf day, say we'll go and have a bit of golf and lunch, have a day out. You might get four or five who want to go. The rest aren't interested. Most of the foreign lads don't play golf, others just don't want to. It's very difficult to find something they all want to do.
"They don't mix as much as they used to. They don't talk to each other much. It's a different culture. But they are in every day now, so you can't get away with it. They have to look after themselves. They are not necessarily better players than [during his playing career], but they are certainly a different type of athlete."
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