by Daisy Cutter
From the moment Mark Hughes felt the first squeeze of media pressure it was utterly predictable that renowned salvationist Harry Redknapp would be installed at QPR just as it’s now utterly predictable how the droopy-faced one will go about turning the club’s fortunes around.
The more cynical amongst us might suggest that he will do so by spending a vast chunk of that fortune in January but while it’s true that we can expect his Range Rover window to be lowered at an increasingly frequent rate in the months ahead combined with lots of comments about how Jermain Defoe is a ‘triffic player who needs to be loved but he’s contracted to another club so I can’t talk about him’ it would be unfair to place all of ‘Our ‘Arry’s rejuvenating skills on wheeler-dealing alone.
Only slightly unfair mind.
We have all played Football Manager and deluded ourselves that, given the opportunity and s*** coat, we could stand on the touchline every few days and guide a team to glory. But deep down we know that our depth of tactical nous doesn’t even scratch at the surface of what is required to boss a top class professional outfit.
That is not the case with ‘Arry. Indeed the chirpy alchemist has little time for such distractions as tactics, saying in 2010 following an England victory ‘Was it 4-5-1 or 4-3-3? Does it even matter? Tactics don’t win you football matches’.
We also all know in our heart of hearts that no matter how perceptive and knowledgeable we are about the game our ability to spot a future star might be somewhat hit and miss.
This again is no concern for ‘Arry who exclusively purchases established players. His scouting network is that week’s Match magazine and his analytical breakdown of their strengths and weaknesses veers solely between ‘triffic’ and ‘fantastic’.
Redknapp’s formula for success is based on keeping things simple, galvanising team spirit, and encouraging players to express themselves and enjoy their football which, on the face of it, is surely something most of us can do, especially if given the additional incentive of making our pet dogs extremely rich.
So, assuming you dear reader have charisma by the gobful and you’re unfortunate enough to look like a suicidal Bassett hound, could you step into the breach should Henry James Redknapp need to suddenly abscond to a tax haven in the near future? Could you instantly replicate the science of Harry that he has spent thirty years accruing?
The Cutter says yes, so long as you follow these six easy steps…
Get the press in your back sky rocket
Rule one, page one in the Redknapp manual is to ingratiate yourself to the media and get them fawning over your every utterance. This can be achieved simply by calling tabloid hacks ‘Robbo’ and ‘Curto’ and always making yourself available to talk about things that don’t remotely concern you. In return for this the press pack – a needy and pathetic bunch – will individually delude themselves you’re their best mate and be forever in your servitude. This will come in particularly handy for step two…
Praise the chairman then make him the fall guy
This process has already begun so before you step in as Harry MkII it’s probably best to check the early press conferences so as not to repeat anything. The somewhat schizophrenic narrative is this – Tony Fernandes is a great guy who has gone above and beyond for QPR football club. There is no need to strengthen in the next transfer window due to the significant investment from the owner – there is more than enough talent here to work with and get us out of trouble. Four points from thirteen games has meant there’s a mountain to climb. Daws is a fantastic defender y’know, triffic, probably the best English centre-back around. Four points from thirteen games. Mr Fernandes assures me there’ll be a little bit of money to play with in January. Injuries. Mountain to climb. Need that bit of experience in there y’know. Nicolas is a fabulous player, a top top striker who will always score goals. There’s a little bit of frustration y’know because we need to get bodies in. Scotty is a diamond who played arguably his best football under me at Spurs. But you’ll have to speak to the chairman about all of that.
Make your flair player feel a full foot taller
This is an aspect of man-management where ‘Aryy is lauded to the rafters but in truth it’s a very easy trick to pull off. Each and every day in training pull Adel Taarabt to one side and inform him you’d rather him in your side than Lionel Messi. Once the infuriatingly unpredictable Moroccan starts producing his magic repeat the same bulls*** in public then promptly sell him at the earliest opportunity for someone you actually genuinely rate.
It’s worth pointing out that placing great emphasis on a team’s maverick was also the forte of Alan Ball at Manchester City (with Kinkladze) and Southampton (with le Tiss). Unfortunately for Ball he wasn’t a ‘character’ like Harry with the shameless gall to spend beyond a club’s means to the point of almost bankrupting them. Therefore Ball is remembered as a poor manager while Redknapp is widely considered a genius.
Make training fun again
Double training sessions? Nah, take the day off son. Just make sure you repay me on Saturday.
Stick rigidly to 4-4-2
Of all the Redknapp scriptures this one is set in stone. The only occasion football’s Del Boy has ever ventured from a big man/small man striking combo, a ball-winner paired with a playmaker in the centre, with an out-and-out winger on one side and a maverick on the other, and two full-backs with endless running who push on, was with van der Vaart. The Dutchman was always far too nuanced to be pushed out wide and though he produced some sensational stuff at the Lane you always felt ‘Arry was compromised with the necessitated 4-4-1-1, like a man with a new girlfriend who does kinky things. He likes it – at times he really likes it – but struggles to look himself in the mirror afterwards.
The Hoops brought in an infantry of well established big-name players over the summer yet they have patently failed to perform or gel as a unit. With the club now rooted in the mire most new managers coming in would look beyond these duds – at least temporarily – and perhaps even promote from the fringes, to ensure a fresh impetus and hunger. This however goes directly against Redknapp’s managerial mandate. Instead he will seek the solace of reputation – muddle through up front until Johnson and Zamora return from injury (because they were sometimes superb at Fulham), re-energise Bosingwa (because he was a Champion’s League winner at Chelsea) and Fabio and Park (if you’re good enough for ‘Alec’ then you’re good enough for anyone) and generally cling to the tried, trusted and familiar.
Bring in obvious targets
In the five months since his tenure at Spurs unravelled has Redknapp been on sabbatical, spending his time travelling across the globe enriching his football acumen, re-evaluating his philosophies, and personally checking out a multitude of young prospects from Zagreb to Zimbabwe? Nah, has he f***. Instead he’s been amassing every lucrative advertising gig going while sitting in a warm studio with his muckas saying how traffic everyone is.
Why do a Guardiola when Anelka is sulking in China and Parker and Dawson will always be available from the Lane at some point?
It’s a piece of p*** this gaffer lark innit.