A sense of realism and admittance of mistakes by the Tottenham board in October has lead to the most inspired move by them since the appointment of Bill Nicholson. After eight games and sixteen points into his reign as Tottenham manager, the appointment of Harry Redknapp is fast becoming the signing of the decade let alone the season.
Despite being in the bottom half of the table and the visit of champions Manchester United looming at the weekend, the signs are positive for a Spurs team considered genuine relegation material under the now Real Madrid Manager Jaunde Ramos and the Daniel Levy devised structure involving a Director of Sport in Damien Comolli.
The change of management structure and the first English Manager appointed since Glenn Hoddle in 2001 has seen Tottenham move away from the bottom of the table after the worst start in their history.
Levy whom in 2006 was voted the most popular chairman in London must be given credit for acting swiftly and decisively in bringing in the right man for Tottenham, at the right time and letting him take control. With the initial tests of a North London derby and the first win against a top four side in two years secured, the next test for Redknapp will be his recruitment in the January window.
This time last year Damien Comolli and Jaunde Ramos were working in tandem to bring in new players to move the club up the table. Working together was something that was missing with Ramos’ predecessor Martin Jol who claimed his requests for players and the positions that needed strengthening were ignored by Comolli and lead to his dismissal a few months later. The signings of Chris Gunter from Cardiff , Middlesbrough’s Captain Jonathan Woodgate and Rangers flying fullback Alan Hutton for a combined fee of £20m brought a lot of optimism to the fans and faith in the new set up.
The signings of Hutton and Woodgate, who would score his first goal for the club to win the Carling Cup against Chelsea, were large factors in Spurs’ first trophy for nine years. This allowed time for Ramos, as the team limped to the end of the season after a cruel exit from the Uefa cup a few weeks after Wembley. Time that in hindsight he scarcely deserved when looking at his record at the point of dismissal. A handful of Premier League wins in the ten months of 2008 would bring about the Spaniards demise. His lack of communication and ability to understand the demands of the Premier League is in stark contrast to that of Redknapp with 15 years Premier League experience and the ability to make teams competitive with minimum financial backing at West Ham and Portsmouth.
With net spend in the summer of £5m and a compensation package to the former set up totalling £10m, the increased revenue brought about by increased ticket prices and TV money should allow Redknapp to be competitive in the transfer window, Manchester City notwithstanding. Defoe, Diarra, Johnson at Portsmouth, Dunne of Manchester City and Greene, Parker and Upson at West Ham are all realistic targets especially the trio at West Ham not being cup tied for Europe. Parker having turned down Tottenham on three occasions would be the Woodgate signing for this year. The first genuine competitive midfielder the club has had since Graham Roberts moved north of the border twenty years ago.
If this signing followed up with a sound replacement for the error prone Gomes and the continuing fitness of King Spurs not only could avoid relegation but in the second half of the season challenge for the sixth place and possible second year out at Wembley in the league cup.
Redknapp will need to prove he is as good with money as he is without. It will also show the Tottenham fans and the football world what his plans for the future of Tottenham are. A big name centre back will see the beginning of the end of Ledley King’s Tottenham playing career. The signing of Defoe will raise question marks over Darren Bent and Roman Pavlyuchenko. Both of whom will have their futures considered in January and the summer.
January and the following five months will also prove to the outside world that Redknapp is a manager of genuine substance and not just the cockney wheeler dealer that he has been perceived as since his West Ham days. A perception that has seen Redknapp overlooked for the top jobs in the country including the England Managers job. A role deemed worthy of Steve Mclaren after less than a third of Redknapp’s time in the Premier League. The ‘Harry Houdini’ reputation will be enhanced but it will the competitiveness of Tottenham against the big four and the middle weight sides of Villa and Everton that he will want to be judged on. Tottenham travel to Utd, Liverpool, Villa and Everton while entertaining Chelsea and Arsenal before the end of the season.
The success of Redknapp’s moves in the forthcoming window will go a long way to defining both his Tottenham’s reputation within the league. The title of team most likely has been passed onto Villa and Everton. Now, if Tottenham are to regain that fifth place spot and challenge the top four, then Harry will need to make signings as inspired as the Tottenham board’s in October.