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How Harry Redknapp Saved Tottenham Hotspur

Remember how awful Tottenham were at the beginning of the season? Their fixtures and results page looked like a game of Duck, Duck, Goose only the ducks were losses and the goose was a draw. One squinted at the players dressed in white, wondering where they came from and what they had done with the team who’d been knocking on the Champions League’s door only a couple of seasons earlier. Maybe Tottenham’s players were tied up and gagged in a warehouse somewhere à la The Dark Night and these dudes had stolen their uniforms to pretend to play some football. Of course it didn’t help that they’d sold off all their established strikers the summer before.

Gareth Southgate was off somewhere chuckling to himself and thinking, Spurs are going to get relegated if they don’t shape up!

Enter Harry Redknapp.

A new manager should be given a couple weeks to turn bad results around. Redknapp had every right to this. Supporters were likely telling themselves, as they buzzed with anticipation, Once he gets his system in place, we’ll be alright.

But, there was no waiting for the new manager. They don’t call him Harry Houdini for nothing.

His first match in charge was a win. Spurs’ first of the season. 2-0 against Bolton. Then it was the unbelievable 4-4 north London derby. Then it was win, win, win, win, Fulham, win, win.

Spurs, who’d recorded back-to-back losses against promotion teams (Hull, Stoke) in October under Juande Ramos, kicked off October with a 2-1 victory over Liverpool. Liverpool’s first loss of the season. Spurs beat the Reds again two weeks later, knocking them out of the Carling Cup.

“They have a decent squad on paper, but it is not a well balanced – I think maybe a soft centre and think we need a bit more strength and aggression,” he said of Spurs as he was taking over. The immediate turnaround in their form and results is a testament to his managerial impact. (The struggles Portsmouth have had since he left says a lot too.)

In the winter he brought strikers Jermaine Pennant Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane back to Tottenham. And now Spurs are knocking at the door of Europe once again. One more win over Liverpool and a Fulham loss to Everton would put Spurs in seventh spot. But even if they don’t make it to the continent, they’ve climbed so far above safety, they cannot deny the effects of that Redknapp touch.

Redknapp’s bluntness must have been a bucket of cold water in the faces of the players. You can see it in  the way he refuses to mince words in interviews. Where most managers will be somewhat tactfull about a player’s poor performance (Oh, he didn’t have his best match. But we know he’s got the quality and the goals will come), Redknapp will say right to the bouqet of microphones before him, Gawd, ‘e was bloody awful! Wasn’t ‘e?

This is the man who took the police to court after they’d raided his home and arrested him during an investigation into corruption.

Redknapp is a true character and his manner and presence can always be trusted to keep things interesting. On and off the pitch he’s practically an institution in English football. Has been since he first signed with West Ham in 1964 at seventeen years of age.

Though he has only one major trophy to his name (last year’s FA Cup) in his 45-year career, the magic he brings and his ability to turn a club’s fortunes completely around is the stuff of legends. He did it for Portsmouth. He did it for Tottenham. Don’t be surprised if he does it again. It looks like Southgate’s position at Middlesbrough may be up for grabs. If only they have a few million pounds laying around.

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  1. NorthLondonYid

    May 28, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Wow, you guys make me laugh….
    you’re actually arguing about what “could” have been. Why can’t you accept that ‘arry has been immence since he took up the reigns at WHL? Form and proposed statistics do not matter. HARRY REDKNAPP HAS BEEN THE BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO TOTTENHAM IN YEARS, JUST ACCEPT IT YOU BUNCH OF MASTURBATING NERDS. And before any of you try and imply I, by leaving a comment, am anything like you, I stumbled across this “debate” whilst looking for the 09/10 spurs shirt. HARRY REDKNAPP, MAY HE REIGN FOR YEARS TO COME.

  2. Dai

    May 22, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    We did not “spend” 40 million pounds in January. A large percentage of that figure was owed to us for the sales of Defoe and Keane.

  3. timmyg

    May 22, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Re: Spurs’ form before Harry/after Harry.

    Could we also conclude that the Spurs players were trying to get Ramos fired by playing bad?

    I’m not saying they “threw matches” necessarily, but teams quitting on managers happens in all sports.

  4. David

    May 22, 2009 at 5:24 am

    Paul, you have got it all wrong. Spurs did far better than Man City, West Ham and Fulham since Christmas. They were close to Everton. The statistics show:

    Everton 9 7 3 34
    Spurs 9 5 5 32
    Man City 9 2 8 29
    West Ham 8 5 6 29
    Fulham 8 4 7 28

    Please do your homework before you make correct comments.

  5. spurredonindublin

    May 22, 2009 at 3:10 am

    In reply to Paul, of the four teams he compares us to, three of them were well ahead of us at Christmas.

    Since then, we have overtaken West Ham and Man City, and have a remote chance of doing the same with Fulham. West hame were 10 points clear when HR took over.

    So far HR has taken 49 ponts from 29 games, which extrapolates to 64 points in a season. Everton have 60 points and can obtain a maximum of 63.

    The most telling statistic can be found at If the table were based purely on our results against teams in the top half of the table, we would be in fifth place, having lost only once to the “Big 4” all season. In our first eight games of the season, we lost five and drew two against teams that have struglled all season.

    Spurs is a work in progress and I have seen us “challenging” for a top four place before even the first ball has been kicked far too many times recently to fall into that trap. On current form, following our victory in the CC last year, it was obvious that we were going to struggle (though I would not admit this at the time), with a mere three wins for the rest of the season. However, since the advent of HR, the only teams that have stretched their lead on points, have been the “Big 4”.

    One other point to mention is that Shakthar won the UEFA cup, having knocked out Spurs, who had fielded two weakened teams against the eventual winners.

  6. FanZine

    May 22, 2009 at 12:05 am

    I was waiting for someone to document the amazing work of Harry Redknapp at Spurs. Thanks Ethan for this!
    Finally an English manager shows that he does have what it takes to compete with the best. I think the FA Cup triumph last year really helped put Harry’s career into perspective. For the first time as a manager, Harry can claim to be a winner. All these years, he was only known as ‘Arry Houdini which takes away the excellent English mentality that he has.
    Spurs were not like other clubs who had foreign managers. Spurs continued to buy English players primarily even while Ramos, Jol and Santini were there so the setup was very English and the foreign managers could not fit in. Harry was the perfect choice and he has proven it. I was disappointed though when they were knocked out of Europe by the eventual winners, Shaktar.
    Still if Harry can get Bentley performing again, top 4 could be a possibility next season…Arsenal are rocking a bit, aren’t they?

  7. Paul Bestall

    May 21, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    The signing of Palacios was crucial, i have been blown away by the lads perfomarnces since he joined Spurs. He works so hard and runs all day, I never appreciated just how much work he did at Wigan, but now I’ve had the opportunity to watch him week in, week out, he’s astounding.
    Redknapp’s work at WHL has been remarkable, a breath of fresh air, and his work reminds me of the effect Venables had in his first full season in 88-89. Once he got Gazza and Waddle in tandem, it was a joy to behold.
    I’ll be happy with with a top 8 next year with the personel changes I expect over the summer.
    Great article Ethan, well played sir.

  8. kenny

    May 21, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    I can’t believe the article didn’t mention Palacios. When Harry talked about a “soft centre” and the need for “more strength and aggression”, where do you think that came from?

  9. Ethan Armstrong

    May 21, 2009 at 1:32 pm


    The notable form comparison is not between Tottenham and other clubs, but between Tottenham before and after Redknapp. The drastic (and immediate) change in form of Spurs themselves is what I find astonishing and laudable.


    Thank you for your comment.

    I do appreciate the mistakes being pointed out. As a writer, I aspire to get things right and I’d rather someone point out a glaring error than have Mr Pennant floating around in place of Mr Defoe. When I click the submit button on an article I always have that nervous moment of doubt: Did I get it all right? And the temptation to go back and change things again and again will always be there (I already wish I’d put “Willem Dafoe and Robbie Williams” in my previous comment) but after that button is clicked, I accept the article is out there. Flaws and all. I just pray the flaws are minimal and that I learn from them as I go.

  10. Dave

    May 21, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Records since Christmas? Spurs have been in top 5 form since January, since Harry came in we’ve been in top 6 form, 4 points behind the gooners and 3 points behind Everton.

  11. ossie's dream

    May 21, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Paul, because he took a team that seemed a dead cert for relegation and turned it into a European contender. Spurs are also finishing strong – the Premier League form guide has Tottenham ahead of Man City, Everton and miles ahead of West Ham:

    Fair play to Everton, Fulham (especially Fulham) and West Ham (not so sure about City), but the point of this blog post is how Redknapp turned Spurs’ season around.

  12. ossie's dream

    May 21, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    timmyg –

    Aye, 40M quid does help. But Ramos/Comolli spent a silly amount of dosh on rubbish. Harry has spent far more wisely (e.g. Palacios, Defoe), so should be credited with that.

    Have a big transfer fund is no guarantor of success (see Man City).

  13. timmyg

    May 21, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Spending over 40 million quid in January is helpful too…

  14. Scott

    May 21, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Just a note for some people on here, the writers are human and make mistakes. When I see a mistake I will point it out, but I won’t be a jerk about it. We all make mistakes, maybe some of you could remember that next time and be respectful when pointing a mistake out.

  15. paul

    May 21, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    If you look at the records since Christmas, Spurs have done no better than Fulham, West Ham, Man City and worse than Everton.

    So why is everyone taken in by ‘arry’s friends in the press saying how wonderful he is.

  16. Ethan Armstrong

    May 21, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Heh. That’s probably the worst error I’ve made since I started blogging. I fixed it but left the evidence of my mistake. Thanks for your understanding fellas;)

    Yes I proofread. But in the fast-paced world of blogging mistakes are always going to slip through the cracks. At least I didn’t have Jermaine Pennant and Roy Keane coming back to Tottenham…

  17. avisie

    May 21, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    well known as a striker that Pennant !


  18. Eric

    May 21, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    I believe it is Jermaine DEFOE not Pennant, do you proof read ?

  19. paul

    May 21, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Harry never signed Jermaine Pennant for Spurs because Tony Adams signed him on loan until the end of season for Portsmouth. Harry signed Jermaine Defoe. Good try tho

  20. t3ach

    May 21, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    jermain pennant? great research!

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