In February 2012 things were going well for Harry Redknapp, after taking over at Tottenham in 2008 when they sat bottom 0f the Premier League with just two points, he managed to keep the team up and just two years later he took them into the Champions League for the first time in their history. He led the club in memorable nights at the Bernabéu and the San Siro, who could forget Bale’s stunning hat-trick against Inter Milan. In 2012, it looked as if a return was inevitable, at the turn of the year his team sat in third place in the league, boasting a 12 point lead over bitter rivals Arsenal. Things were going so well for Redknapp that he was the outright favourite to replace Fabio Capello as England manager.
However, things quickly fell apart after that, he was forced to fight a lengthy court battle, which he did successfully, to clear his name against charges of tax evasion and on the pitch his Tottenham side surrendered that 12 point lead they held over Arsenal to finish fourth. Still a Champions League place usually but as if his luck could get any worse, Chelsea who had finished in 6th place beat Bayern Munich to lift the Champions League trophy and deny Tottenham a place in next year’s competition. In the summer, he failed to agree terms on a new contract and was therefore sacked by Spurs, to make matters worse just months earlier he had missed out on the England job to Roy Hodgson. His career at the top level has never really recovered from that twist of fate and this week has seen his career take yet another strange twist.
Before we explore this further we should establish that throughout his career Harry Redknapp has proven himself to be a serial winner. He started out with Bournemouth in 1983 and just a year later guided them to one of their greatest ever days at the time, knocking holders Manchester United out of the 1984 FA Cup with a 2-0 victory.He then took Bournemouth to the Third Division title in the 1986/87 season before leaving to join West Ham in 1994. During his time at West Ham, he can boast an Intertoto Cup winners medal but he will be far more fondly remembered for the introduction of players from the club’s youth set up, great names such as Joe Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick and Frank Lampard.
In 2004-2005 he spent a short and not very happy time at Southampton, he was never welcomed to the club by the fans as he joined from their fierce local rivals, Portsmouth, the club he would return to soon after. In these two spells, he led the club into the Premier League in 2003, managing to keep them there while guiding them to their highest ever league finish in 2006, 9th. However, his reign at Portsmouth will forever be remembered for the remarkable 2008 FA Cup win, a side managed by Redknapp knocked out Manchester United once again, this time with a 1-0 in the quarter-finals. Then then went on to complete the unlikely victory by beating Championship side Cardiff City 1-0 in the final. For this achievement, he was given the freedom of Portsmouth and to this day, it remains the last time that an English manager has won a major trophy in England.
Then came his four years at Tottenham, followed by an up and down spell at Queens Park Rangers. In November 2012, he took over a team bottom of the Premier League with just 4 points from 12 games. Unsurprisingly, he couldn’t keep the team up but in the very next season QPR came roaring back to the Premier League after defeating Derby in the Championship Play-Off final thanks to an extra-time winner from Bobby Zamora. Once back in the Premier League his career started to slide again, his QPR side struggled once again in the Premier League, they sat 19th with 23 games played and he decided to resign in February 2015 citing the need for a knee operation.
From here his career has taken a series of strange and diverse turns, mainly because his desire to help out friends. After taking a prolonged time out of the game, he returned in March 2016. In the midst of heavy speculation linking him with the Derby managerial job, he agreed to join the club but only as a consultant. He insisted that it was as a personal favour to his friend, Derby owner Mel Morris.
He soon combined this job with another friendly favour. This time, his friendship saw him travel to the footballing outpost of Jordan. It turns out Redknapp is a great friend of Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Fifa presidential candidate and Head of the Jordanian FA, through this friendship Prince Ali persuaded Redknapp to take charge of Jordan’s two World Cup qualifiers against Bangladesh and Australia in March 2016. Redknapp appeared to initially enjoy his time in the country, he got off to the dream start after his Jordan side thumped Bangladesh 8-0. After the game, Redknapp remarked at how surprised he was at the level of quality in the country and that he would be interested in extending his contract if the opportunity arose. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be as a crushing 5-1 defeat to Australia ended Jordan’s hopes of going to Russia.
Despite his time in Jordan coming to an end, the twists and turns in his remarkable career didn’t end there. Just this week he was announced in another consultancy role, this time to struggling Australian club Central Coast Mariners, the A-League club had a terrible season in 2016. They finished bottom on just 13 points, a whole 12 points behind 9th place Wellington Pheonix. The club has clearly turned to Redknapp to try to revive their fortunes but his appointment has left many in the media scratching their heads as to how it came about.
Furthermore, he now looks as if he will be given one of the biggest and toughest jobs in African football, manager of the Nigerian national team. It now looks extremely likely that he will take over in the coming days and if he does it will be no easy task. The Football Association there is currently in crisis, they have embarrassingly failed to qualify for the 2017 African Cup of Nations and politics at the Nigerian FA surrounding who should run the organisation has seen them threatened by FIFA with a suspension from all footballing activity, not for the first time either.
Clearly, Redknapp now faces one of the busiest periods of his life, he has to advise a Derby side going for promotion to the Premier League, revive the fortunes of struggling Australian outfit Central Coast Mariners and along with of all of that take on the responsibility of managing an African powerhouse that is in turmoil at the moment. It is fair to say that no-one has ever juggled three such different and geographically separated jobs and perhaps never will again. It all really is so hard to believe that Redknapp’s career has gone this way. Only a few years ago, he was being hailed as a miracle worker at Tottenham and there was an army of English fans calling for him to be appointed manager of the national side. Sadly for him, this was not to be and instead his career has taken these strange turns. Seeing such a manager in this situation makes me rather sad, it seems such a waste of talent when so many English teams are crying out for a manager of his talent. However, England’s loss is the world’s gain and no matter what footballing outpost Redknapp turns up in next, his managerial qualities are undoubted and I’m sure he’ll make a success of all of his projects.