I am going to start with two footballing scenes. The first is at The Hawthorns in February 2011. West Bromwich Albion are playing West Ham United in a Premier League game. Roberto di Matteo had been sacked the week before and the new appointee Roy Hodgson is at the game as a spectator before formally taking up his duties. For half an hour or so the Baggies take West Ham apart and lead 3-0 at half time. But no-one is relaxed. 3-0 is just not a safe lead for this team. When West Ham score early in the second half we fear the worst which duly arrives. It finishes 3-3 amid shambolic defending.
The players had been due to have a few days off but the new manager tells them they are coming in on Monday. There is work to do. At the next match the Baggies, without playing particularly well, look better organised. Obver the next few weeks they stop leaking goals, and begin to pick up points. Albion stay up comfortably and pick up a long awaited win over Villa on the way.
The proof of the pudding is in he eating and even if Hodgson is a rather conservative coach, the pudding he served in his 15 month tenure at B71 was appetising enough. Maybe his time at England has been a disappointment, maybe his tactics have not always been right but who could do better given the limited amount of talent available and the top clubs doing their best to hinder rather than help?
The second scene is at Dean Court Bournemouth in 1971. This is according to a university acquaintance who recalled a 3-0 win over Aston Villa in a Third Division match where Harry Redknapp the West Ham reject reject playing at outside left tormented Villa’s right back before, in the dying minutes, receiving the ball and sitting on it to taunt his hapless opponent.
This surely is the most apt image of Redknapp, a lower division journeyman and local hero. like a southern Cec Podd or Alan Buckley. It was as a local hero, now managing the Cherries that he enjoyed his one significant managerial success, an FA Cup Third Round win over Manchester United in 1984. That’s a long time ago. and he hasn’t done much since apart from sweet talk the gullible London football press into thinking he’s some kind of football genius.
But what about the 2008 Cup win? What about it, bought as it was with lavish amounts of money Portsmouth FC didn’t have, which is why they are now halfway down League Two. Harry Redknapp is, essentially, a small time footballer and a small time coach with a high opinion of himself that he has conned the press and part of the public to share. That is the essence of the matter. He is a con man, a Cockney spiv if you like, and he who should keep his counsel, particularly with regard to a coach who, whilst even less distinguished as a player, has walked the walk as a coach. . .