"Where you going on your hols this year Lou?"

by Liam McConville

On Saturday night in Munich, Tottenham’s season transformed from a good one to an overwhelming disappointment as Chelsea became champions of Europe thus robbing Spurs of a place in next season’s Champions League. This has seen many Spurs fans hitting out at their own manager as seen in the comments sections on this very site. However is this criticism really fair? Or is Redknapp merely a victim of his own success, with supporters’ expectations exceeding what is really achievable.

Let’s face it if you’d had offered Spurs fans fourth place and an FA Cup semi-final at the start of the season, I’m sure most of them would have taken it. However it is the circumstances regarding these achievements that has made Spurs’ season appear to be a poor one. This is a rare campaign where finishing fourth isn’t good enough to take a place with Europe’s elite. Sure the rules were clearly set out at the start of the season but still this freak event where the champions of Europe only finished sixth in their domestic league is right to leave everyone associated with Tottenham feeling hard done by.

At the turn of the year it looked like being an incredible season for Spurs, they were flying high in third, they looked likely to finish as the highest London club and guarantee Champions League group stage qualification. However many trials and tribulations were to follow as Spurs fans dreaming of a possible title challenge were brought crashing down to Earth. A dramatic turnaround at the Emirates as Tottenham relinquished a two goal lead was the start of a run of sixteen points from their final thirteen games and on the face of it that doesn’t look good enough.

Indeed at one stage, stuttering Spurs looked likely to drop out of the top four completely as both Arsenal and Newcastle made late surges. Bewildered fans looked for someone to blame and Redknapp was an obvious figure. ‘Arry’s tactical ability was questioned, his lack of rotation was criticised and must of all his constant flirting with the FA over the then vacant England job must have infuriated the club who stayed loyal to him through his trial for tax evasion.

That Redknapp was found not guilty was supposedly to be a springboard for Spurs but it didn’t work out like that as they ran out of steam. For a side used to finishing behind their North London rivals, the fact that they ended the campaign just a point behind Arsenal will provide little comfort. Redknapp is seen as untouchable by his friends in the media who love him so dearly as he never fails to roll down his window on deadline day for a chat.  The fact that Redknapp is also usually always good for a quote, it’s easy to see why he was the media’s choice for the England job if not the overwhelming choice of the supporters.

It seems apparent that some Spurs fans wish that the FA had come calling for Redknapp so that a new man could be appointed to supposedly usher in a new era at White Hart Lane. Maybe there is a case that says ‘Arry has taken the club as far as he can and that a new manager with fresh ideas is what is required to take the club to the next level. However it looks to me that some fans have very short memories. Here is a man that took the club back into the elite European competition for the first time in nearly fifty years. Admittedly it is much easier to qualify for the Champions League now than most of those fifty years but remember Redknapp was the man who broke up the established top four two years ago.

Once in the Champions League Spurs established themselves quickly despite a disastrous half hour against Young Boys in the qualifier. They went on to reach the quarter-final, beating both Milan clubs on route, a great achievement for a club languishing in the relegation zone upon Redknapp’s arrival. Admittedly this was a false position and had it not been for some dodgy lasagne Martin Jol may have achieved the feat of breaking the top four several years ago but the fact still remains that Redknapp has achieved where others have failed.

Redknapp does deserve criticism for some of the errors he has made in the second half of the season that saw the tantalising prospect of third evaporate. However equally he deserves praise for getting Tottenham into that position in the first place. His dealings in the January transfer market don’t look great especially with Steven Pienaar’s form for Everton but all managers make mistakes, take for example Sir Alex Ferguson who spent £7million on a twenty year old Portuguese forward he’d never seen play before and we all know how that turned out.

Maybe twelve months from now I will be proven wrong and the Spurs fans that have criticised Redknapp will be equally proven emphatically right. Now is not a time to be reactionary but simply try to forget the misfortune and back the team ready for next season as I’m sure most Spurs fans will do. Redknapp has a difficult summer ahead as he has to try and convince key players such as Bale and Modric to stay whilst also bolstering his team for another shot at getting back into the big time.

As for the Spurs fans who continue to call for the manager’s head it might well be a case of you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.