Two points from eight games. We've all heard it hundreds of times. Heck, we've heard Harry Redknapp say it at least that many times, even this year when Tottenham Hotspur couldn't have been further removed from their disastrous start to the 2008 season. I, for one, am not sad to see Harry Redknapp leave, but that doesn't mean I can't reflect on his time here at Tottenham Hotspur and be proud of the place that he's taken us to.
Juande Ramos was the hot name in football management. He was supposed to lead Tottenham Hotspur to the glory that the fans felt the club so greatly deserved. Instead he brought us a Carling Cup, an 11th place finish in the league, and two points from eight games the following season. He was sacked before October was through with Tottenham Hotspur 4 points adrift at the bottom of the table.
I remember the day we signed Harry Redknapp. There were no other candidates for the job because the club fired and hired on the same day, but I remember saying to my lone friend who care about football that I thought the signing lacked ambition. Sure, Harry is a good manager in a relegation battle, but he had never managed a top club with top talent. I didn't think his "Wheeler Dealer" schtick would play at White Hart Lane, but if nothing else I figured he'd keep us from getting relegated.
Thankfully, I was wrong. Harry Redknapp did keep us from getting relegated, but he also did so much more.After two points from eight games Harry took the Club on a six-match unbeaten run. A run which included that memorable 4-4 derby match against Arsenal. Harry got Spurs to the Carling Cup final and into the Round of 32 in the Europa League. The club eventually finished 8th that season and improvement on the previous year despite the abysmal start.
The baffling part about that initial season were the transfers. Robbie Keane and Jermaine Defoe were both bough back after being sold for big money to Liverpool and Portsmouth. Wilson Palacios was bought for £12 million, Carlo Cudicini arrived on a free transfer, and Pascal Chimbonda came back to the club for £3 million. Not exactly the best business. I suppose Defoe worked out and Cudicini on a free wasn't bad. Palacios was good for a time, but not worth £12 million. If there was one area we all thought Harry would be great it was in the transfer market. He had the money to sign whoever he wanted. Instead, it seemed like he was going to sign the same type of players he signed when he was a "Wheeler Dealer" only now he was going to pay much more for them.
The 2009 season dawned with high expectations for Spurs. Redknapp's men could have finished much higher if they hadn't had such a deep hole to climb out of at the beginning of the season. The summer transfer period was, for all intents and purposes, quiet. The major signings were, of course, Peter Crouch, Sebastien Bassong, and Niko Kranjcar. The two Kyles (Walker and Naughton) were also purchased from Sheffield United at this time, but we wouldn't be seeing either of them at White Hart Lane just yet. Departures included Didier Zokora, Darren Bent, and Pascal Chimbonda. The biggest departure though, and one many Spurs fans wish they could have back, was that of the enigmatic Kevin-Prince Boateng, who now stars for AC Milan.
Tottenham starte 2009 strong, winning their first five games in all competitions and placing them second in the league behind Chelsea on goal differential. However, the club gained only seven points from their next seven games and fell to fifth in the table. When January arrived Spurs were in 4th and fans were starting to dream of Champions League nights at White Hart Lane. The arrivals of Eidur Gudjohnsen on loan and the return of Younes Kaboul helped strengthen the squad and made it seem like Tottenham fully intended to go for fourth.
What followed was a magical few months of football that rarely saw the gap between fourth and fifth place greater than three points. Tottenham were fighting off three clubs (Aston Villa, Liverpool, and Manchester City) for that final Champions League place and in the end it was a headed goal from Peter Crouch in the 82nd minute against Manchester City that guaranteed Tottenham Hotspur it's first ever trip to the Champions League.
The season marked the clubs highest finish in Premiership history as well as the most points that Spurs had collected since the inception of the Premier League. The club was riding high going into the 2010 season. A flurry of new, high profile signings were expected to go along with Champions League football. Harry Redknapp was the toast of Spurs fans everywhere. He had done what no Spurs manager had done since the days of Bill Nicholson; take Tottenham Hotspur to the top European competition. Even I was on the Harry Redknapp bandwagon. I was ready to admit that I had been wrong. That maybe Harry was the man for the job after all. Maybe all Harry needed was resources to be a successful club manager.
What was supposed to be a big transfer window turned out to be largely underwhelming. Sandro was purchased and William Gallas was brought in on a free. If Daniel Levy hadn't pulled of a miracle on deadline day and acquired the service of Rafael Van der Vaart, who knows what would have happened. Many were disappointed. We had been told for years that players wouldn't join Spurs because we didn't play in the Champions League and now we were playing in the Champions League and players still wouldn't join.
The league started off rather mundanely, with a draw, a loss, and a win in the clubs first three matches. The start to our Champions League campaign, however, was anything but. After going to 3-0 at halftime to Young Boys, Spurs claimed two vital away goals in the second half to give themselves a fighting chance on the return leg. On the first Champions League night ever at White Hart Lane, Spurs ran out 4-0 victors, thereby ensuring themselves a place in the group stages.
The following months saw Tottenham Hotspur slowly climbing the table back towards the Champions League places. It was a rather slow slog and was not nearly as exciting as what was happening in the continental competition. October brought us Gareth Bale's hat trick at the San Siro, something that may never have happened under a manager other than Harry Redknapp. I give a lot of credit for Bale's development to Harry, but he also gets some of the blame for his recently stalled performances.
The following month brought Inter Milan to White Hart Lane, where Spurs were 3-1 victors. November also gave us the North London Derby match in which Spurs came back from a 2-0 halftime deficit to defeat the Gunners 3-2. Younes Kaboul scored the deciding goal, giving Spurs their first win away to Arsenal in 17 years and their first away win to a "top four" club in almost 70 games. By the end of the month Tottenham were in fifth place in the league and had won their group in the Champions League.
The January window arrived and again Spurs had a chance to strengthen the squad. Again, the club failed to do so. The addition of Steven Pienaar was nice, but he was not the type of player that the fans were crying out for. Unrest was starting to grow. What was the problem? Who was buying these players? Many couldn't decide who most deserved their ire. Whether it was Daniel Levy or Harry Redknapp. We'll probably never know who was responsible for the failed transfer windows of the 2010-11 season, but we do know that only one of those men still has a job.
I'm sure you all remember the rest of the story. Tottenham shocked AC Milan in the first knockout round to make it to the quarterfinals of the Champions League where they were demolished by Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid. The Club's league form remained relatively consistent, though they were unable to lock down fourth place despite numerous opportunities. In the end, Manchester Cities array of stars proved to much and Spurs had to settle for fifth place and a return to the Europa League.
You all know the story of this season. It began with another fallow transfer period. Scott Parker and Brad Friedel came in, along with Emmanuel Adebayor on loan. All were good signings, but a little underwhelming if I'm being honest. The window also saw the departures of Jonathan Woodgate, Peter Crouch, Wilson Palacios, Alan Hutton, Robbie Keane, and Jamie O'Hara. The main thing we all remember from this past summer were the consistent rumors of a Luka Modric departure. I also remember Harry handling the situation rather poorly. Remember that whole "He's had his head turned" nonsense?
The season started poorly with resounding losses to the two Manchester clubs. Then, following deadline day in which Luka Modric did not leave Tottenham Hotspur rattled off 10 wins in their next 11 matches to push themselves into third place. Meanwhile, many Tottenham youngsters were getting blooded in the Europa League and there seemed to be a lot of promise for the future.
The problems for Tottenham and Harry Redknapp began when Fabio Capello resigned as England manager. In the match following that announcement Tottenham trounced Newcastle 5-0 while fans chanted about wanting Harry to stay. I remember watching Harry during that match and never during his tenure at Spurs had I ever seen him so animated and excited on the touchline. Spurs had a 10 point lead over fourth place Arsenal at one point, but a run of six points from nine games following that Newcastle victory saw Spurs sag to fifth place.
I suppose that run of form could be tied to the England flirtation that Harry Redknapp engaged in. It could also be tied to the tired legs in the squad. It could be tied to the fact that Spurs didn't really have an elite strikeforce or the fact that club just wasn't as good as some of it's competitors. Whatever you want to tie it to, it's clear that the fans, and perhaps Daniel Levy, felt that Harry Redknapp had let the club down.
In the end an easy closing schedule saw Tottenham retake fourth place. The club had essentially secured Champions League football again and that could only be seen as a success. That was, however, until Chelsea decided they would finally win the Champions League and, despite finishing sixth, would take Tottenham's place in the Champions League.
So here we are. Mid-June. Roy Hodgson is in charge of England and Harry Redknapp is no longer the manager of Tottenham Hotspur. You can say what you like about Redknapp's negative qualities: his propensity to put his foot in his mouth, his lack of tactics, his inability or refusal to rotate his squad, his admiration of sub-par players, etc. Let's not forget, however, that this is the man the presided over one of the most successful three year stretches in Tottenham Hotspur History. Sure, it didn't result in any trophies, but you would be hard pressed to make a competent argument that Spurs are in worse position now than when he took over in 2008.
This has been said many times in many places, so I won't try to pass it off as my original thought, but I know that Harry Redknapp was not the right man to lead Tottenham Hotspur to the glory that we all want the club to achieve. Harry Redknapp was, however, the right man at the time for Tottenham Hotspur. Without Harry who knows where this club would be.
So, I want to thank you Harry Redknapp for your service to the club. You will always be appreciated for what you have done here. You developed some star players and brought the Champions League to White Hart Lane. You provided us with some memorable quotes and moments and above all led us on one hell of a ride. I'm not sure how much I'll miss your press conferences from your Range Rover, but I do know that I will miss the fun we all had at your expense.
To Daniel Levy, I want to say that now is your time. I don't mean to be melodramatic when I say this, but I feel as though the decision on who replaces Redknapp will make or break this club. Many candidates have already taken new jobs or signed new contracts, but there are still plenty of big names out there to be had. I'll weigh in on the current options out there later today, but for now Mr. Levy, all I ask is that you impress me.