A bitter and probably undeserved swipe at Harry Redknapp

I’m sorry, I just can’t take it anymore. The Redknapps must be stopped. While Jamie is busy imparting his molecular knowledge of the game on Sky Sports, having presumably earned the gig by winning a colouring competition, dad Harry is as frustrating as he is irritating. For all the good he does – and, despite my distaste for him, I’ve rarely criticised his actual management – the fact that his career has been swimming in controversy and he talks such total nonsense should make him an easy target. Of course, having so many pals in the press prevents those shots being taken.

But I can’t keep it in any longer. Redknapp’s column for The Sun has become a magnificently fertile font of fun for football supporters lately, but I personally don’t find it in the least bit amusing. For the purposes of this post I will assume that Redknapp writes his own copy – after all, that’s the intended effect. The topic, inevitably, is England. Redknapp and I disagree fundamentally on the future of the England team and this post will explain why. This, Harry, is what you’ve made me do with my lunch hour.

The quotes are all from the Tottenham Hotspur manager in this week’s column. I won’t link to it, because hey…it’s The Sun.

Now we have Joe Hart firmly established in the role and it is an area of the team I find encouraging. Joe has a great future for himself at Manchester City. And with David James approaching the end of his career Joe could be settled as the England goalkeeper for the next 10 years. I think he will be that hard to shift. It’s a huge positive for England as the goalkeeper is the foundation for the team.

Good start. I don’t disagree with this – it’s a leap of faith, but it’s a leap that I have taken myself.

But with [Johnson] — along with Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Ashley Cole — I think we have the best back four in the world.

This is laughable. Perhaps – and I mean perhaps – we have the best left back in the world. But Glen Johnson will never be part of the best back four in the world, because he is quite disappointing at international level, in my opinion. His defending is not the biggest weapon in his arms cabinet, but for England his attacking play seems to suffer from a certain nervousness that comes over the Liverpool full back. As for the middle, let’s get Redknapp’s view first:

But Terry and Ferdinand are still the best two centre-halves we have and I wouldn’t swap our back four for any other defence in international football — and that even includes world champions Spain.

I don’t think Terry and Ferdinand are the best two centre-halves we have. It’s immaterial really, as that comes down to a matter of opinion and the intangible lack of trust I have in them where I would have confidence in others. And this notion that they somehow form part of the best defence on the planet is so ludicrously misguided that it actually makes my brain cry.

England missed Rio at the World Cup in South Africa but with him back in the side the defence was not troubled consistently on Tuesday night against Montenegro.

There’s probably some truth in this. England were obviously very poor in the World Cup and Ferdinand would undoubtedly have been an improvement on what we had. The defence was also not consistently troubled against Montenegro, but let’s not forget that Mirko Vucinic was absent and one of the attacking players on show was Branko Boskovic. As a DC United supporter, let me tell you with some certainty that even I could keep Branko at bay at the moment. Also, the fact that England’s defence was relatively untroubled on Tuesday directly contradicts some of Redknapp’s other opinions about the players England supposedly missed.

There is a good chance Frank would have scored on Tuesday night at Wembley so his absence was keenly felt. I am a big advocate of Steven Gerrard and Lampard being in the centre of midfield despite all the debate about whether they are able to play alongside each other.

Sweet. Jesus. There’s a debate about this? Still? Setting aside the ridiculousness of saying there is a good chance someone would have scored, this Gerrard-Lampard thing should have been cleared up by now. I actually prefer Lampard to Gerrard as a club player, but by and large I think England have looked much better, much more balanced, without him in the side. In one sense, it’s a shame – he’s a great player and it’s annoying that we’ve not made the most of that. But on the other hand, he’s in his thirties. Do we really want to continue trying to crowbar these two into the same midfield? Let’s look to the future.

PETER CROUCH is 6ft 7in tall so his best asset is an obvious one. It’s no good putting him up front and then trying to play the ball to his feet all the time. Peter is a technically good player but England should use his height — because he towers above most defenders.

It blows my mind that these are the words of Crouch’s club manager. For me, Crouch is far better with the ball played to his feet and I’ve always found his aerial ability somewhat disappointing. Redknapp goes on to say that whilst he doesn’t advocate the long ball game, England should take advantage of Crouch’s height and Gerrard’s passing ability by linking the two of them together. Personally, I think the current system of lumping it to a big man is flawed and we must look elsewhere immediately.

Redknapp goes on to talk more about Lampard and about his partnership with Gerrard, ignoring the fact that it has been failing for a decade. There’s also a “vision” of a “golden triangle”, featuring the two incompatible midfielders and Wayne Rooney, dropping off a striker to form the triangle’s gilded tip. Now, I’m no tactical mastermind – I am not a football coach and I find tactical analysis to largely be mind-meltingly tedious – but isn’t that pretty much what happens with Rooney in a big man and little man partnership already? Rooney’s always had a natural inclination to drop back, link play and work hard. Redknapp’s essentially saying, “We miss Frank.” Wonder why.

I’ll leave you with this little beauty. If I could sum up the problems with the England national team as crisply as this, I’d be laughing. Fortunately, Redknapp cracks it:

England had a poor World Cup, yet we still have the players and manager to go and win Euro 2012.

Needless to say, I don’t agree with Redknapp’s ‘if it ain’t broke’ blueprint, because it’s broke – not necessarily badly, but enough to know that we absolutely do not have the players (or the manager) to win Euro 2012. If anybody from the Football Association is reading then please do us all a favour and be more progressive in your selection of Fabio Capello’s replacement than appointing this man.


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