Be Careful What You Wish For, part 163. Spurs fans will have been fine over the morning papers, munching some toast while reassuring themselves that today, against Bolton, their season would finally get up off its knees. And then they'll switch on any of the broadcast or online media and the effect will probably be similar to that famous shot zooming into the face of the shocked and uncomprehending Police Chief in Jaws. Juande Ramos, winner in the last three seasons of two UEFA Cups and the League Cup, will be replaced as Tottenham manager by Harry Redknapp who steered Portsmouth to the FA Cup five months ago, his first major honour as player or manager.
First contact seems to have been made with Portsmouth on Friday and, from what Redknapp is saying, it sounds as if Spurs have paid £5m in compensation to acquire his services. In an interview with Sky Sports as the news broke the former West Ham boss said Spurs needed "more strength and aggression" from their "unbalanced" squad and admitted that the move was "a chance for me to manage a big, big club before I retire." And, he may believe, a more reliable springboard to the England job post-Fabio than similar work by the Solent or the Tyne. He also constantly referred to Portsmouth as "we" as he spoke and sounded reluctant to leave them, which wasn't an immediate reassurance that his heart lies at White Hart Lane.
Redknapp's appointment is no more a guarantee of success than Ramos's. Last time Harry left Portsmouth mid-season, in 2004/5, he couldn't save Southampton from the drop into the Championship. On his return to Pompey he did manage to keep them safe from relegation, not least thanks to the arrival of new money courtesy of Alexandre Gaydamak as owner. Harry hinted this morning that leaner financial times were arriving on the South Coast and that that had prompted him to say "Yes" now when he claimed to have rebuffed Newcastle's overtures last season. He has traditionally not held back in the transfer market and all this points to Levy being willing to bankroll another spending spree in January. Presumably he'll also want to move a bunch of players on, most likely for a lot less than the prices for which some of them were recently bought. Damien Comolli, responsible for bringing many of those players in, has gone the same way as Ramos, leaving Redknapp a free hand. Whether the prospect of major upheaval is really what the squad needs right now, and whether the money brings Boogers or Benjani we must wait and see.
Picture via cottontimer's Flickr stream.
In retrospect it looks as if Jonathan Woodgate's surprisingly candid remarks in the wake of Thursday's 2-0 UEFA Cup defeat at Udinese were the early tremors signifying the imminence of the earthquake. Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy clearly felt that Ramos had lost the confidence of his players to the point where even his demonstrable pedigree wouldn't salvage this season and so was willing to ship out the man he went to so much trouble to land. If Levy is looking further ahead than avoiding the kind of abyss Woodgate's first club, Leeds, toppled into, swapping Ramos and his respected assistant Gus Poyet for Redknapp seems an odd move unless he sees in the 61 year old from Poplar a man finally poised to turn 25 years of managerial experience into a regular joust for trophies with the big four. He'll get a chance soon enough to see what Harry's motivational skills can do as his first game in charge will be away at Arsenal on Wednesday night.
Ironically Martin Jol, the man ousted to make way for Ramos, had a good track record of fighting relegation. If his Hamburg team win this afternoon they'll go back to the top of the German league. Ramos, meanwhile, will take his European and domestic medals on tour and see who's interested. Tottenham must hope that it's nothing deeper than having the right manager that's holding them back.