This weekend Tottenham travel to Loftus Road in a game in the ordinary run of things would be of nominal importance. The derby is not one of huge prestige and Tottenham sit 3rd in the same division in which Queens Park Rangers occupy the very bottom slot.
What has spices up this fixture is that it sees Harry Redknapp meet the man that replaced him at White Hart Lane for the very first time since being axed by Daniel Levy.
The saga of Redknapp’s reign at The Lane has been well documented. 2 points from eight games to Champions League, then the distractions of an HMRC trial and what turned out to be a self induced belief that he was being considered for the England job.
Perhaps that last phrase seems harsh, but not if one recalls the lengthy manner in which Roy Hodgson was unveiled by the FA. Never has point been so laboured that Hodgson was the only man ever in contention for the position. The delay in making the appointment was due to the delicacy and respect shown to Hodgson’s existing employers, West Brom who confirmed the deal had indeed been a very slow burn.
The red top press in particular were left stunned. They had all backed the wrong horse. Harry had been giving interviews on an near daily basis. Redknapp? Well he was left with even more egg on his face than his media chums. The first strike was made by The Sun. A particularly seedy personal attack was made on Roy Hodgson their front page no less, relating to his mild and unimportant speech impediment. The Sun even went as far to contstruct a list of words that the hilariously named ‘Woy’ would be unable to pronunce correctly.
When Villa-Boas took the helm at Spurs he immediately faced a campaign fueled by mocking. It was suggested that his language was inadequate, he was a power point obsessive Mr Bean character who was incapable of relating to players.The dark days of Santini were foreseen on the horizon.
The CV’s of both Roy Hodgson and Villas-Boas were dismissed in a deeply unpleasant atmosphere of pack mentality derision.
Fast forward to the now and Hodgson has England 6th in the FIFA rankings with a side that is caught between the changing of the guard, aging players and emerging youngsters. Villas-Boas is on target for a credible season given that Tottenham sold 2 of the sides best players and as yet have not made a serious stab at replacing them. This doesn’t include long term injuries to significant number first team regulars.
Redknapp’s judgement has been questionable from just about every angle. Taking the QPR job looked like an act of neediness rather than a logical career move. His predecessor Mark Hughes assembled an expensive gang of mercenaries who by and large don’t appear to give a stuff.
And whilst owner Tony Fernandes seems to be a genuinely decent man, he’s no fool and it is really difficult to believe he will throw yet more good money after bad in this window on the off chance Harry can ‘work his magic.’
Then at the start of this month, Redknapp indirectly had a pop at the man who replaced him at Tottenham as well two other managers when he stated:
You’d have to be a real dope to mess it up with Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Frank Lampard.”
This is a revealing comment. It shows a remarkably blinkered avarice. This is Harry telling the world, ‘I could do that.’ Self esteem is a good thing but this veers uncomfortably beyond that. Was Roberto Di Matteo a dope? His Champions League medal would suggest not.
Is Rafa Benitez a dope? He too owns a very similar souvenir of the same exclusive competition, just with a different date and club name engraved upon it. Admittedly, Villas-Boas has only ever won the Europa Cup and the Portuguese league.
Harry has a solitary FA Cup win to his name.
And now the response from the Tottenham manager to the barb. Delivered in the cruelest way imaginable:
Only if you manage the club can you find out. You have to be able to access a club like that to experience it.
It’s a different type of club. You have to experience it and then you have to survive in it.”
In short he’s telling him he’s not qualified to comment. QPR vs Tottenham Hotspur is 1245 kick off.