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Harry Redknapp and Tottenham Hotspur: The Masters Of Suspense

 Harry Redknapp and Tottenham Hotspur: The Masters Of Suspense

When I think of Harry Redknapp, he constantly reminds me of Sir Alfred Hitchcock, Britain’s best-ever film director. The two men hail from the East End of London. Both men had close ties with West Ham United. Hitchcock having supported them and Redknapp having played and managed them. Both men liked to spend the money of their employers whether it was Hitchcock going way over budget or Redknapp and his reputation for spending big money on transfers while he was manager at Portsmouth. And, last but not least, there is a striking resemblance between the two men. If Redknapp gained weight and began making cameo appearances on the football pitch, we may begin to worry.

On Tuesday night in Switzerland, Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham Hotspur seemed to play the role of a cast of characters from a Hitchcock suspense-thriller. In the opening 30 minutes of the moving picture, the Young Boys murdered Tottenham. They completely ripped Spurs apart, slaying open the Tottenham defense. The first was quite sloppy. But once the Young Boys smelled Tottenham’s blood, all three came in quick succession. All that was missing was Bernard Herrmann’s accompanying Psycho theme song.

The Champions League qualifier drama continued when Sebastien Bassong pulled one back which ended the first half with a cliffhanger. What would Redknapp say to his merry men during the intermission that would motivate them? Would Tottenham be able to salvage anything from this match after being so completely outplayed in the first half?

The second half of the work of art was an enjoyable one to watch, as was the first. There were plenty of twists and turns in the plot. Near misses and big escapes. And when it seemed like the Young Boys of Bern would stick the knife into Tottenham to kill the game, they missed their chances. Only a few minutes after the Young Boys missed a golden chance in front of goal to score, Tottenham proceeded back up field and created something out of nothing when Robbie Keane and Roman Pavlyuchenko combined for a one-two that allowed the Russian to create an opening and to smash the ball into the back of the net from distance.

This was definitely a match of intrigue. As the game unfolded and each goal went in, it became a suspense thriller as you watched the scenes in front of you but, at the same time, your mind was going through all of the sub-plots in terms of away goals scored and what that would mean depending on which team scored next. There was also the psychological part of the game where it seemed that Young Boys had no fear of the English team at first. But after Tottenham scored each goal, you could see how that effected Young Boys – at least temporarily. And after Tottenham scored their second, the London side started playing with a lot more confidence as they passed the ball around the Swiss team.

The final 3-2 scoreline to Young Boys was a defeat to celebrate for Tottenham. The slaughter could have been much worse. Young Boys played with a confidence and determination that was difficult to match. It was made worse by having difficulty controlling the ball on a bouncy plastic surface. But, at the same time, Tottenham’s performance wasn’t helped by the dire display by defensive midfielder Wilson Palacios who had difficulty stringing passes together. Plus Benoît Assou-Ekotto, whose first half performance was so poor as left back that he was replaced before half-time.

The stage is now set for White Hart Lane next week when the second installment will be played. Redknapp has a lot to think about between now and then. Undoubtedly there will be changes and Redknapp will not want to repeat the same mistakes his cast of characters made on the European stage. But rest assured, no matter what happens next week, the game between these two sides will have plenty more twists and turns. The suspense is killing me.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

16 Responses to Harry Redknapp and Tottenham Hotspur: The Masters Of Suspense

  1. patrick says:

    Harry hasn’t been West Ham for years.

    He is Richard Hannay… on the run, with secrets to expose. Betrayed by a woman, sought out by the police.

  2. Stacy Richardson says:

    “In the opening 30 minutes . . . the Young Boys murdered Tottenham . . . The first was quite sloppy. But once the Young Boys smelled Tottenham’s blood, the next three came in quick succession.”

    If by “the first” and “next three” the author means “goals scored,” that would make a total of four by the Young Boys. But we know they scored only three goals on the night.

  3. I fear the end is nigh for Palacios – he has looked woeful in preseason and was terrible again last night. Redknapp defintely preferes Modric and Huddlestone in the center. Sandro arrives this week (another defensive midfielder) so I see Palacios being relegated to a bit part player this season.

  4. Shane says:

    That Bassong goal was not an equaliser.

  5. FenwayHotspur says:

    “. Plus Benoît Assou-Ekotto, whose first half performance was so poor as left back that he was replaced before half-time.”

    I’m not so sure it was purely his performance that warranted the sub. While BAE didn’t play as great of a game as he did against City, his substitution was, IMO, tactical. Huddlestone came on to strengthen up the midfield, and allow Bale to shift to LB. At times when Bale was attacking, the back 3 shifted inwards, almost putting Spurs in a 3-5-2 with Palacios as a center-half.

    Harry has no problems substituting for tactical reasons early. If anything, I was more pleased with BAE’s defensive performance than Bassong, who looked completely over matched by the speed the Young Boys had on this pitch. Hell, all the defenders looked like they were running around in sand in comparison to the Young Boys’ attackers.

    At the very least, knowing a 1 -0 win at home is all Spurs need, I’m not too disappointed, and more embarrassed by those first 30 minutes if anything else. Those 30 minutes vs the first 60 minutes against Man City were two completely different teams.

    If anything, no Ledley King means Huddlestone MUST play that centre-half position Spurs were using the end of last season. Palacios and Bassong together was just brutal.

  6. Guitarearl says:

    The pitch was dreadful, felt like I was watching a college soccer game between two Div III schools. Young Boys had a huge advantage…for one thing Tottenham sat a number of players due to concerns about the pitch. The other was a style advantage, and it seemed to take nearly the entire first half for Tottenham to adjust (which in itself was kinda dumb).

    • FenwayHotspur says:

      Not that I wanted to make the pitch an issue or excuse (and still trying not to, honest!) the sheer amount of bad passes by Spurs that had the ball was just skating across the pitch was astonishing. Sometimes, it even looked like the players themselves were shocked. Luckily they adjusted enough late to grab those tow away goals.

      • Guitarearl says:

        The only way I’d make the pitch an issue in the outcome would be to say that it seemed that Tottenham were not well prepared to play on that surface. Of course the balance of their matches are on real turf, but it’s something a well prepared team can overcome. One would think that, regardless of the advantage gained by the Young Boys club, Tottenham would easily handle the challenge. I think my main point is that astroturf makes for a really ugly game of soccer.

        • Jacob says:

          Pitch issues are a horrible and pathetic excuse! These guys are part of the best league in the world. They play in the EPL for a reason because they are the best. Pitch issues is like saying I have a cold!!!

  7. Young Boys played a blinder and Spurs had a very off night. It happens at all levels. The pitch didn’t help but I´m sure our team has played on all sorts of surface and should be able to adapt to such things. They have known for a while about this fixture so should have maybe had more practice sessions on Astroturf.
    Anyhow – roll on next Tuesday and hopefully we´ll get these Young Boys back to our place and have our way with them. They won´t like it but hopefully we can overpower them and score.

  8. J-Plat says:

    I didn’t see the game live but I have a few observations. First, Spurs really seem to struggle with speed. I noticed it last year when Man U and Arsenal kept getting behind our defenders. They just don’t have a lot of pace on the defensive part of the field. Ledley is terrific but due to his injury he’s not always available. Michael Dawson showed a lot of quality last year but Benoit can be inconsistent and Bassong didn’t look great yesterday. I know Harry likes the Eastern European guys but I’m not a huge fan of guys like Corluka and Kranjcar.

    I’m also not a huge fan of Palacios. He always looks out of shape and he tends to draw a lot of cards. They also seem to have trouble scoring. If I were Harry I’d like for another defender (Sandro is a defensive midfielder), a physical midfielder to replace Palacios), and a striker. They need another consistent striker up their with Defoe. They don’t seem to get consistent goalscoring out of Defoe (despite his 20+ goals last season). Crouch is more for headers and set pieces and doesn’t score much. I like Keene but not sure he’s what we need up there. They need a guy that can consistently give 12-15 goals every season to put up front with Jermain. Any thoughts?

    • The Gaffer says:

      J-Plat, good feedback. I noticed that too yesterday when Young Boys were threading passes between Spurs defenders and then having one of their strikers make a diagonal run to get the ball and take a strike on goal. Two of their three goals were scored this way. And the Tottenham defenders definitely looked static and were split apart by these passes.

      Palacios had a good early part of last season but he was poor in the second half and was poor last night.

      I don’t agree that Spurs need better strikers. Once Defoe, Keane, Pav and Crouch start scoring, there’s enough quality there to win games. They’re all just a bit rusty now but goals will come.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  9. Lance says:

    I wouldn’t wish being a Spurs fan on my worst enemy. It is absolute torture, and I was ready to jump out the window yesterday. Thank God for the comeback, but my word do they try and give their supporters gray hair.

  10. toddmintz says:

    I mentioned the same things yesterday, and got no shouts. For one thing Dawson was not good either, pace killed the Tottenham, the back 4 looked like leadfoots. The strategy pass and us Young Boys speed to lap the back 4 play through ball and go at goal. Tottenham escaped. The Boys will likely do little at White Hart, Tottenham likely will score a 2-0 win or so and survive the tie. Why is Kranjcar not the player he was at Portsmouth? Like many guys at city, scheme, players around you that type of thing> Example, I have always loves Shaun Wright-Phillips who is wasting the good years of his career on the bench, another team with a sudden cash infusion can become a player in this EPL overnight by acquiring some of these guys that waste and sit on the bench on rosters with these big clubs. Keane would be on any team I would own if I could. Tottenham ha enough striking talent for me, however, i am no in love with theyr’e back 4 at all.

  11. Giovanni Dos Equis says:

    It was more about Bassong and a soft midfield. Harry likes to attack 1st and out score the opposition. Maybe its more about the current squad or just Harrys style.
    When you play away from home many, many, top sides go away from home defend for their lives and get a result. (Inter, Chelski, Pool etc…)
    We had gio, modric, bale in the midfield all who attack first and prefer not to defend.
    Yes I know Bale is a left back but lets be fair his strength is bombing down the wing not defending. Young boys were big strong and fast and yes that helped on that surface but tacticaly we were poor.

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