It ended up being his knees. Not the millions of pounds wasted, not the bizarre tactic–free team selections or the eleven consecutive defeats away from home but dodgy knees that finally forced Harry ‘’Arry’ Redknapp out of Queens Park Rangers. He quit the club after 105 games in charge, one relegation, one fluked promotion and a whole lot of excuses.
Amazingly, tributes flooded in to a man that was once fated to be England manager, further proof of the cult of ‘Arry. The man has made a career from being a professional rent-a-quote, a friend of the tabloid hack and a supposed fantastic man-manager. His managerial CV has an FA Cup, two fourth place finishes and a couple of promotions. That this is considered impressive for a man with a 32-year career is an embarrassment to everyone who has reported on the sport in that period. The much-maligned FA should take immense credit for their choice in 2012 to replace Fabio Capello with Roy Hodgson rather than media-darling ‘Arry.
The calls for him to be appointed at that time came on the back of a four-year spell at Tottenham Hotspur that encapsulates the man’s entire career. He took over from misunderstood and mistrusted Spaniard Juande Ramos with the club bottom of the league after the first eight games of the season and carried them to comfortable safety. He continued to improve the side and took them to a top-4 finish at the end of the 2009-2010 season. For the following two years until his dismissal, Spurs stayed as a constant thorn in the sides of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchesters City and United but never quite overtook them. Redknapp engineered this revival through almost £100 million of transfer fees, even more on wages and with the use of Gareth Bale and Luka Modric, neither of whom he brought to the club.
This pattern of huge transfer fees, astronomical wages and bloated squads is one that is a hallmark of Redknapp’s career, and especially a hallmark of his triumphs. For a man who brought Portsmouth their first FA Cup success since 1939, he is remarkably reviled by the Pompey faithful. This is because this success was based on an economic footing that proved entirely, and disastrously unstable. Portsmouth have endured repeated relegations and administrations whilst ‘Arry got out smelling of roses, praised for the job he did. What must so worry QPR fans is that this blueprint has been set, and that their club seems to be following it.
For a man full of repeatable, headline-worthy soundbites, perhaps his most famous quote is that he is not ‘a wheeler-dealer…fuck off.’ The irony of this exchange with Sky’s Rob Palmer in 2010 is excruciating and particularly apt given that Redknapp seems to have finally left QPR due to their inactivity on transfer deadline day, as owner Tony Fernandes finally came to his senses and denied Redknapp limitless funds. It is also ironic as the extent of Redknapp’s wheeling and dealing seemed to be repeatedly re-signing Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch and Niko Kranjcar and stock-piling hard-working grafters. That he has recently been setting up QPR with a midfield four of Leroy Fer, Joey Baton, Karl Henry and Kranjcar, given the amount he spent building his ‘squad,’ is nothing short of scandalous.
He is, in many ways, a microcosm of English football’s worst traits. Spending to excess with no regard for the consequences, favouring functionality over flair, finding excuses and failings with all around him but himself. He’ll still have his friends in the media, in backrooms and in boys clubs and make no mistake, if a job offer that took his fancy came by, he would jump at the chance, dodgy knees or not. But for the time being, English football can move on, and it hasn’t come a deadline day too soon.