Be careful what you wish for, part 164. Just as we imagined almost four years ago when Harry Redknappp arrived as manager, Spurs fans will have been fine over the morning papers, munching some toast while reassuring themselves that next season will definitely bring Champions League football. And then they’ll switch on any of the broadcast or online media and, once again, the effect will probably be similar to that famous shot zooming into the face of the shocked and uncomprehending Police Chief in the classic film Jaws (which, incidentally, is also coming around again imminently).
At least Harry's predecessor, Juande Ramos, had actually won something: the League Cup in 2008. Harry's lasting achievement at White Hart Lane was... a run in the Champions League. Wonderful as that was, it was still a one off and, in retrospect, Harry seems to have delivered more or less the same thing that David O'Leary brought to Leeds around the turn of the century. One memorable, but ultimately unsuccessful, European campaign and otherwise a set of league finishes that were always just that one point, that one game, that one goal from further qualification for the competition that clubs in Tottenham's regular position long for to the point of near obsession.
O'Leary was unlucky that he finished fourth when England only had three places. Redknapp was even unluckier this year, steering Spurs to fourth place only to watch helpless as Didier Drogba's heroics in Munich snatched away his prize at the last possible moment. That result suddenly wobbled Spurs security, casting doubt over the future of key players and causing Daniel Levy to hesitate over renewing the contract of a manager who, in the wake of his court acquittal and almost universal recommendation to be the new England boss, had seemed unassailable. But then Spurs stalled violently and limped to the end of the season badly enough to make Harry's recent public impatience on the subject of his new deal just that one misjudgement too far for his chairman.
So, with the Premier League's new television gazillions about to land in his coffers, who does Levy turn to now? The knee jerk speculation is that David Moyes will welcome the chance to spend plenty of that after years of comparitive austerity at Everton, but their board deny it. As usual, somebody's already claimed to see Wigan's Roberto Martinez on a plane back from a trip abroad, but, having summarily dispensed with Fulham's Martin Jol and Redknapp as well as the double UEFA Cup winning Ramos, why would Levy turn to someone who couldn't get the Liverpool or Villa jobs? Jurgen Klinsmann sounds great, of course, but he's only one year in to his post in charge of the US national team, a job that took him years to get in a country where he loves living. Assuming Barcelona's Pep Guardiola can't be tempted to North London from his sabbatical so soon, here's a list of other managers who might even do the trick and might not make Tottenham fans weep uncontrollably.
Rafa Benitez - Well, if you want someone who's not only qualified for the Champions League, but actually won it (with Liverpool, of course), not to mention the FA Cup, which has eluded Spurs since Terry Venables's time, Rafa's currently available and apparently even still has a home in England. His most recent job ended in tears as Internazionale of Milan let him go, but not before he'd won the World Club Cup. A lot of Liverpool fans weren't entirely unhappy at the idea of his reappointment until Brendan Rodgers got their job. Spurs fans would have to get used to a more defensive style, but, like West Ham fans and Sam Allardyce, would they be willing to put that to one side if success came with it?
Guus Hiddink - In case you were wondering where the manager Chelsea tried so hard to hang on to can be found these days, he took over in February at FC Anzhi Makhachkala. The project he's undertaking involves overseeing the rebuilding of this Russian Premier League club with funds provided by a local billionaire. Admittedly, he's barely started there, but we wonder if he's already growing a little tired of the need for him and the team to travel 1,250 miles by air fifteen times a season... to play their home games. Makhachkla is in the Republic of Dagestan, but the club staff live and train just outside Moscow for security reasons. If the opportunity to manage Roberto Carlos and Samuel Eto'o in the twilight of their careers and marshal the defensive talents of former Blackburn captain Christopher Samba and ex-Stamford Bridge wing back Yuri Zhirkov doesn't make those journeys positively zip past, maybe he could be tempted back to London to manage the only team to beat Chelsea while he was there.
Brian McDermott - the up and coming manager is in vogue in the Premiership these days and Tottenham seem to have some informal links with Reading, so, maybe, if Levy was quick, he could snap up his very own version in McDermott. Sure, McDermott played for Arsenal thirty years ago, but George Graham was much more attached to the Gunners than that, and he won Tottenham a trophy. More importantly, Brian has recently beaten Sir Alex Ferguson in a football management competition, the Castrol League Managers Association Performance Table. He edged the Manchester United supremo into third, but was himself pipped by Dave Jones's exploits at Sheffield Wednesday.
Slaven Bilic - His stock isn't what it once was, but the former West Ham defender is still the man responsible for consigning Steve MacLaren and his umbrella to the ever-growing England scrapheap at Wembley not long ago and has earned much admiration in his six years as manager of Croatia. That, of course, makes him Luka Modric's international manager and that might mean he's the only man who could realistically persuade the dynamic midfielder to give Spurs that one more season.
André Villas-Boas - Admittedly, Daniel Levy doesn't appear to be impressed by winning the UEFA Cup, or perhaps by the competition at all given Tottenham's perennial dismay at qualifying for it and having to play in it, but surely a man this apparently talented is worthy of another try somewhere soon?
David O'Leary - He's still available, you know...
Photo of Harry being interviewed by daughter in law Louise Redknapp via curiouslypersistent's Flickr stream. And yes, we believe that is Bryan Robson's head at the bottom left...