Within the space of a couple of days, both Harry Redknapp and Danny Murphy issued extensive comments about two of the hottest topics concerning the English footballing world at the moment, the financial situation at Liverpool and dangerous tackling respectively. But were those comments genuine attempts at voicing their opinions or just misguided attempts at something else completely?
There are no two ways about it; both football professionals certainly upset a lot of people with their comments this week, Redknapp especially. The situation at Liverpool FC is one of the biggest tragedies ever to hit the sporting world never mind English football alone.
Whilst Danny Murphy, the Fulham captain, also spoke out about the state of the game today and how tackling was destroying the game. He ever went as far as to suggest that certain managers sent their players out onto the pitch in such an aggressive mindset that bad tackles were inevitable.
There is a small link between Redknapp’s and Murphy’s comments, but we’ll come back to those later.
To say that Harry Redknapp upset a few people would be a bit of an understatement.
For a start, the headline chosen by The Sun for Redknapp’s column was incendiary to a fan-base that already has a long standing grudge against the paper.” I was never going to win Redknapp many friends, especially in Liverpool and especially when you consider the city’s long running feud with the paper.
On April 19 1989 The Sun newspaper ran with its infamous headline “The Truth” in which it described what happened on that fateful day in Hillsborough four days previous.
It was a headline that disgusted millions of people across the country and which was found to be completely baseless in the fullness of time. The slur on the people of Liverpool had a galvanising effect across the City and sales of the paper were reduced from over 300,000 to just 8,000 per day as citizens of the city spoke out in the most dignified of ways. Since then the paper has become known as “The Scum” on Merseyside.
It is in this backdrop of hatred for the newspaper that Redknapp’s choice of words and amazingly his choice to voice out his opinion on the matter caused almost everyone to miss out on his intended message.
His column started well, with Redknapp saying that anyone who would be interested in owning a football club was out of their mind. Few would disagree.
However, the decision to say “I have utmost sympathy for the Reds’ owners, George Gillett and Tom Hicks” was nothing short of amazing. On paper, if you knew nothing of the situation at Liverpool and saw the owners being pilloried for pouring £144 million into the club, you would have agreed with him.
But the fullness of time has shown us that Hicks and Gillett had no other reason than buying Liverpool other than to make a quick profit and move on. They came into the club in 2007 with the intention of patching it up and moving it on for a profit, nothing more and nothing less.
Unfortunately, the world economy collapsed in the mean time and they were unable to clear their loans, which have plunged one of the jewels of European football into becoming a potential relegation candidate.
Hicks and Gillett have grossly mismanaged the club, for Redknapp to say he is sorry is the Spurs manager missing the point completely.
He went on to say that Hicks and Gillett could not be blamed for players under performing. Again, on paper, there is very little wrong with this statement but everyone knows that if things are not right at the top in an organisation then they won’t be right anywhere else.
The nub of the article, by which stage many had already decided that the paper would be tomorrows chip paper, was to be found in the second half of the column.
It can be summed up perfectly by this quote “Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson should not be sacked.”
The column was Redknapp’s attempt at supporting his friend and colleague Roy Hodgson. Why he chose to mix up that message with his comments on Hicks and Gillett was poor decision making to say the least.
That same day, October 7, Danny Murphy was speaking at the annual Leaders of Football conference in London.
Dangerous tackling is at the forefront of the football world at the moment and the Fulham captain was asked to voice his opinion on the matter.
Murphy called some tackles “ridiculous” and “brainless”, and went on to say that managers have to take responsibility for their players.
“Your manager dictates what your players do and how you behave”he said.
“You get managers who are sending their teams out to stop other teams playing, which is happening more and more – the Stokes, Blackburn’s, Wolves. They can say it’s effective and they have got to win games but the fact is the managers are sending out their players so pumped up there is inevitably going to be problems. Every ship has a captain and that’s the manager who is in charge.”
There is a lot of truth to what Murphy says, however, in naming three particular teams and insinuating that Mick McCarthy, Tony Pulis, and Sam Allardyce purposely send out players to rough up opponents he is completely wrong.
One of the greatest aspects of football is that it is a game that can be played in a variety of ways. The game can be adapted to suit players of every size and skill level.
In short, not every team has the capacity or budget to play flowing football like Barcelona, Arsenal, or even Spurs.
Clubs like Wolves for instance operate at a budget far lower than the likes of the Gunners. Last year Arsenal spent around £90 million on wages. That kind of spend attracts the best players. Mick McCarthy’s spent around £25 million.
That is not to say that Wolves should not play football, but it must be taken into account that they cannot compete with the likes of Arsene Wenger’s side for the best technical players on the planet. Their tactics reflect this fundamental difference in pocket depth.
Again the nub of Murphy’s comments is left to the end.
“If you have a manager like Roy Hodgson in charge you don’t get discipline problems”he said. “If you have a manager that’s in control of the team and doesn’t allow these type of things to go on then you are going to have a more disciplined team.
“I’m not saying tackling is a bad thing but we want to watch the best players on the pitch. Under Roy Hodgson at Fulham we were always top of the fair play league because he wouldn’t accept talking back to the referee and he wouldn’t accept stupid tackles.”
Speaking out in support of Roy Hodgson…
There is little to doubt that the current Liverpool manager is hanging on to his job by the skin of his teeth.
Both Redknapp and his former player, Murphy, have chosen to speak out in favour of the embattled Hodgson. However, in the future they must choose the time and moment better.
Their messages of support were lost amidst much gnashing of teeth and general unhappiness at their other comments. Redknapp has now become public enemy number three for many red wearing fans on Merseyside while Murphy has done his cause no good by basically trying to name and shame managers.
I guess you could call it Harry’s Law, although Murphy’s Law seems more apt somehow.