The appointment, when it finally happened, occurred with remarkable speed given the months of speculation and assumption that preceded it. Over the weekend it quickly became apparent that the Football Association favoured West Bromwich Albion manager Roy Hodgson as the man to succeed Fabio Capello who quit as England manager back in February. Hodgson’s name had not been totally absent from discussions about likely candidates, but the momentum behind Harry Redknapp seemed unstoppable, even if it was primarily driven by the media and punters. Redknapp’s name was an obvious one to settle on given the apparent desire to see an Englishman back in the top job.
He is the only English manager in the Premier League in recent years who seemed to have done anything of note, most of the others have been either Europeans or Scots. However it is worthwhile remembering that this has still only amounted to a single League Cup and a commendable run in the Champions League. The seeming lack of any other obvious high calibre English managers was underlined during the appointment of Hodgson when it was pointed out that he was the only English manager currently working in the top flight who has won the League Managers’ Association Manager of the Year Award. But Redknapp has crafted an immensely watchable side at Spurs and it was understandable that many journalists and fans of the England national side would want to see him transplanted into one of the hottest seats in international football.
Hodgson was given a 4 year contract that will see him manage through to the next European Championships in 2016-barring calamity of course. It is doubtful he will receive unanimous and wholehearted support, at least not initially. Many fans would have conditioned themselves to expect Redknapp in the dugout for England’s games this summer. But perhaps the FA were looking for someone of quiet and sustained accomplishment rather than being dazzled by the superficial success in recent years. Hodgson has managed at international level with moderate distinction-especially with Switzerland-but none of his previous appointments would have come with the same burden of expectation.
Furthermore, his unremarkable spell at Anfield will be lingering in the collective memory, leading to muttered dissent about his ability to achieve success at an elite level. Perhaps unfairly, he evokes unwelcome memories of Graham Taylor and Steve McLaren and some tabloid editors may already be sifting through vegetables to find the one that most resembles Hodgson. On the other hand, the fact that he was given two spells at Inter Milan-in an era when Serie A was regarded as the equivalent of La Liga today-remains impressive and an indication of potential. Taking Fulham to the UEFA Cup Final was also a remarkable feat and of more recent vintage. A credible run at this summer’s Championships should see him given enough time put his own stamp on the England during the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
One of the questions that remain to be answered is what next for Redknapp? He has been admirably magnanimous about the decision to appoint Hodgson but it would be understandable if he had been quietly sizing up prospective members of his squad. The Spurs manager must now be concerned that he has missed his opportunity to manage England. Any disappointment must be quickly dealt with and his expectations recalibrated. His first priority will be securing Champions League qualification. Second, will be adding to his already formidable squad so he can make a sustained challenge for the Premier League title. It has not gone unnoticed that his side have performed poorly in recent months: when the England manager’s position became vacant his side were playing like potential champions, now they will be fortunate to qualify for the Champions League.
Ironically, some have attributed this to the disruptive effects caused by Redknapp’s appointment as England manager being treated as a fait accompli. He will now have to come to terms with not getting the job that may yet cause his team to fall just short of Champions League qualification-the one thing that may have made remaining at White Hart Lane a more attractive proposition.
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