Wednesday night’s heroic display from Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham side completed a hugely successful week for a dying species, that species being top flight English managers. Harry now joins Steve McClaren and Roy Hodgson on that cloud whose number comes between eight and ten, and rounds off a fantastic week for England in a game that is dominated so much by the foreign coaches.
Redknapp is the first English manager since the late Sir Bobby Robson in 02/03 season to take his side to the Champions League and in a competition that has been so influenced by the English game in the last decade, this is a staggering statistic.
A hard fought 1-0 victory against self proclaimed ‘super club’ Manchester City was what it took to send Redknapp and his Tottenham team to the qualifiers next season. It was not just the success of the manager that gave England fans something to smile about. Fantastic performances from players such as Michael Dawson, Ledley King, Aaron Lennon, Tom Huddlestone, Peter Crouch and City’s Adam Johnson certainly gave on looking Fabio Capello some important decisions to make.
In a game that a draw would have greatly benefitted Tottenham, Redknapp still went in with an attacking mindset and oh how it worked.
“I took a big gamble and played an attacking team
We went for it. People will think I’m mad coming away from home like this – all the top teams only play with one up front now.”
The football played by both teams was far from spectacular but the commitment levels would have shot through the roof (had there been one). If they can perform like that in Europe then Spurs will be welcomed at venues such as the Camp Nou, Bernabeu and San Siro and if they act creatively and intelligently in the summer then they should have no fear about competing with Europe’s elite. With Redknapp at the helm you can’t help but think that anything is possible especially when you consider his talents within the transfer market.
Anyone watching the match had to feel slightly sorry for City but it was Tottenham who deserved the victory with them looking like the far better ‘team’ and City’s stars playing more like a group of individuals than the well oiled machine that they will need to become in order to succeed.
The final whistle was accompanied by brief chants of “Mancini out” and pleas for Jose Mourinho’s appointment but the majority of City fans stood and applauded their exhausted players. The board must resist a knee-jerk reaction over Mancini, chopping and changing as they did with Mark Hughes will only increase the inconsistency at Eastlands.
As we all sit down to watch England take the field in South Africa this summer we will hear the familiar cries of “Football’s coming home” echo around the stands but you cannot help but feel that after a week like this in many ways it already has.