What a week it’s been for Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp. Last Monday he was staring prison in the face, only to neatly dodge that dicey prospect when he was acquitted on tax evasion charges on Wednesday morning. And before the day was done, things got even better, with Fabio Capello’s hasty departure as England boss bumping ‘Arry up to being the hot favourite to take over the Three Lions. As I wrote in my latest Toro Magazine column, Capello’s exit might not be the worst thing for the England, creating an opportunity to turn crisis into a moment of communicative clarity, and ridding the team of a gaffer whose most oft-worn expression was that of the grumpy old man from the movie ‘Up.’
Still, while it’s been a great few days for ‘Arry, the immediate prospects aren’t necessarily so good for Spurs, who face losing their manager at or before the end of a Premier League season of unparalleled success. His England candidacy comes at a crucial time for Tottenham: this weekend’s match against Newcastle kicks off a stretch that includes matches against the Gooners, United and Chelsea before the end of March, as well as the next rounds of FA Cup encounters. The team persevered throughout the sideshow of ‘Arry’s trial, but watching their wheeler-dealer of a manager dip his toes into the England pool could prove vastly more of a distraction to the Spurs squad.
But Reknapp appears to be in a no-lose situation, much as he was when he first took over at Tottenham. How many times did we hear old ‘Arry give that ‘two points from eight games’ speech about how he brought Spurs back from the brink after a woeful start under Juande Ramos? Now the England opportunity amounts to about the same thing: ‘Arry the White Knight rides in to take over from an unloved foreigner, calms everyone down and, because he’s apparently not the type to give long, boring speeches, just lets the lads go out and play football. Whatever happens on the pitch this summer (and I’m not convinced England will have an easy time with any of Group D opponents France, Sweden and tournament co-hosts Ukraine), Redknapp can say he stepped into the breach when times were tough and did his level best to make things right. Win or lose, he’ll be hailed for his service and can choose whether to step away and go back to Spurs, or stick around and try to lead the charge towards Brazil 2014.
How much has the bar been lowered by the results of his predecessors? Steve McLaren’s squad failed to secure passage to Euro 2008, while Capello’s lethargic Lions wasted no time going south after squeaking into the knockout round in South Africa. Lead England into a semi-final even, and ‘Arry could come home to a parade. Just not down the Tottenham High Road.
Ever the type to play down his profile, all the while talking about himself just a little bit more, ‘Arry claimed he celebrated his acquittal by heading home to spend the evening with his wife and dogs, popped a dose of cold medication, and was in bed by 8:30. He says he’d just as happily ‘head down to Cornwall and never be sighted again.’ Classic ‘Arry that, but I can’t believe he’d turn down a call inviting him to sit front row centre on the England bench against France in their Euro opener on June 11.
It may not be signed, sealed and delivered just yet, but everything is on the table right now for ‘Arry and the FA, and nothing’s off it. They have a need, and he’s got the momentum of a tsunami behind him. ‘Arry’s no wheeler dealer, of course, so he’d probably tell you he’s not the type to put a tenner on his chances. Too bad. Right now, he looks about as sure a bet as could possibly be.