Monday, 11 April 2011
Me and Harry - it's complicated
I wasn't overjoyed when Harry was appointed.
I wasn't dismayed, but I didn't see it as a great choice or huge step forward.
I considered his managerial record (one very streaky cup win in 30-odd years) to be far from stellar - and thought his kudos was based as much on a likeable persona and media smarts as much as footballing achievements.
I also thought that his behaviour at Portsmouth and Southampton was pretty shabby. I'd suggest that if he'd done the same thing to more metropolitan clubs, with higher profiles, then he'd have been more widely and vehemently castigated. And been a more toxic proposition.
But, in his first four games, we got 10 points out of 12, including wins against Liverpool and Man City and that draw at the Emirates.
Having made my indifference clear from the start, I was asked/told that I must now be convinced. I wasn't.
Then, after a spate of signings in December, he took us to the League Cup final and eighth in the league. So, I must be convinced. I wasn't.
And then last year, Champions League qualification. The holy grail (to some). Nope, sorry, still not convinced.
This year's frantic and stirring European campaign? God, this is embarrassing, but no, not really.
It's odd. And, like I say, complicated. Because I'm not one of those intransigent fixed position fans who has his favourites, has his views and won't let actual evidence change any of them.
So I know I probably should be onside by now, and say that he's been great for the club. I actually want to. But, well, I'm just not convinced.
He has done great things, I won't deny that. Well, he's got us into the Champions League, anyway. But, then again, we weren't exactly miles off before, with a worse squad. Jol was an extra 30 seconds in the microwave from cracking it. And Ramos, well, the league form went to shit, but he did deliver a trophy, and I'm pretty sure that still means something.
So let's maybe not overplay his achievements. Although, if we don't bend a knee in gratitude, we are likely to cop a bit of flack from Harry himself.
And that's one of the reasons why I'm still not convinced: he just seems so consistently and suspiciously defensive when he talks about fans: Spurs fans, Portsmouth fans, Southampton fans, West Ham fans...
He shakes his head and incredulously asks what 'they' expect, insinuating that 'they' should think themselves lucky he was/is there at all - and implying that what went before and/or after was pretty paltry compared to the riches he's delivered.
In Spurs case, of course, when he's in this mode, he always refers to the club, not just the fans, as 'they'. As in his sarcastic, 'Yeah, cos they were always qualifying for the Champions League before I got here weren't they?'
It's the type of refrain we've heard a few times this season, usually when someone dares to question whether or not this talented squad is fulfilling its potential. It's a legitimate question and, equally, Redknapp's line of defence has some merit. But the tone and tenor of his delivery really grate.
He doesn't seem 'a Spurs man' at times like this, and certainly doesn't seem simpatico with the views and, indeed, spirit of the fans.
Outsiders see Spurs fans as arrogant and deluded, warped by a weird and inexplicable sense of entitlement. Impatient for success and angry about 'under-achievement'. Unaware, basically, of their actual position in the modern game and, therefore, unable to gauge what is and isn't success - unable, in fact, to recognise it let alone enjoy it when it comes along. Because it's not the sort of success we think we deserve.
But that's not my view or my experience of fellow fans at all. All that bollocks about the Carling Cup being Mickey Mouse? Strap some big ol' ears on me and tell Minnie I'm coming home drunk. I fucking loved winning it.
I think most of us know what level we're at, how easy it would be to sink considerably lower and how hard (but not impossible) it's going to be to inch up just a little higher.
Harry, I think, sees us like outsiders see us, believes in the slack-jawed, loud-mouthed, arrogant and ignorant cliche. And that's pretty insulting.
(And, yes, we do have those types, so does ever club. But the majority of 'us' are realistic, sanguine and generally pretty stoic after decades of, largely, disappointment).
Then there's the almost obnoxiously cosy relationship he has with the football media. It seems to be based largely on Harry being 'old school' and 'a proper football man'. These two phrases are, of course, almost entirely meaningless and certainly worthless. He's been around a long time? Great. He still pretends to forget to remember to call linesmen 'referee's assistants'? Brilliant.
There's nothing wrong with him being experienced, of course, and it's fine that his style and demeanour, on a personal level, reflect the age in which he grew up. It's equally fine that this chimes quite conveniently with the manners and mores of the majority of the press. It's just this 'Good ol' Harry' thing can really stick in the craw after a while, and it might, just might, shield him from a level of, shall we say, more phorensic analysis and crticism than the indulgent codswallop they often serve up on his behalf.
If I was to deconstruct this, I might say that I'm not convinced by Harry because he refuses to pretend all our fans are wonderful (the managerial equivalent of not kissing the badge, which absolutely should be applauded) and that he's matey with the media. And that I'm an idiot.
Maybe that's it. And maybe I am just being willful about this.
He has, after all, taken us to our highest ever PREMIER league position (caps for benefit of those who get confused about when football was invented) and delivered some cracking performances against big sides at home and abroad. But, yeah, sorry, I'm still not convinced.
I don't know if we'd do better without him and I don't know if this is as far as he can take us. I don't know if this is fair or ridiculous. But I do know it's complicated.
And I do know that if we beat Real Madrid 5-0 on Wednesday night then I will delete this post, abandon this blog and divert my energies instead into learning the art of sculpture so that I can build a statue of the great man with my own bare hands.