The Harry Redknapp model

December 3, 2010 Tags: , Opinion 20 comments

Much has been made  of Tottenham Hotspur’s resurgence under Harry Redknapp in recent months, from relegation candidates to top four stardom. It’s an achievement that should not be underestimated but what, if anything, can a Manchester United side struggling for true consistency learn from the north Londoners?

To begin with, this Spurs side is engrossed in competition at all levels. Managers have come and gone too often for the club’s own good and old ‘Arry’s appointment was seemingly the last roll of the dice in a bid to become an English heavyweight once more.

The costly removal of Senor Juande Ramos and Damien Comolli, now director of football at Liverpool, made the move for Harry even more desperate, placing Redknapp under extreme pressure to succeed from the start.

This notion of competition transcends to the grossly overpopulated squad too. Where United lack real depth in many positions, Spurs arguably has a myriad of options. In fact of the 11 that started against Liverpool, perhaps only one player is guaranteed his place in the first team – the hugely influential Croatian Luka Modric.

Heurelho Gomes, the once much criticised goalkeeper but now very much number one, has overcome his doubters but remains supported by two other experienced options, Carlo Cudicini and Croatian ‘keeper Stipe Pletikosa.

Right-back Alan Hutton has only recently won his place in the side back from Vedran Corluka, despite once proclaiming his desire for a move to Sunderland he has since impressed all with his attacking impetus.

Central defenders William Gallas and Younes Kaboul are likely to find themselves back on the bench once Ledley King and Dawson return from injury, regardless of their impressive vain of form. This of course is without mentioning the much troubled but talented England defender Jonathan Woodgate

Benoit Assou-Ekotto has been dropped in the past but has recently signed a new contract after positive form this season, although any move to reinstate Gareth Bale to defence would oust the Cameroonian once again.

Meanwhile Golden boy Bale, now the first name on the team sheet, was not so long ago a much a maligned figure, having famously never played when his side had won a game. Bale’s development adds to a sense that Redknapp has a wealth of options in midfield.

Wilson Palacios, bought at vast expense, been forced to play second fiddle to the now injured Tom Huddlestone, despite early promise in his White Hart Lane career. Even Jermaine Jenas’ resurgence has kept the Honduran out of the side in recent weeks.

Should Brazilian international Sandro continue to develop or the much touted signing of Scott Parker happen, Redknapp’s midfield options will only be stronger.

Aaron Lennon has also been used from the substitutes bench this season as his form has wavered but this has accommodated Rafael van der Vaart and two strikers. Lennon is also under some pressure from David Bentley and Niko Kranjcar for his position, who can also provide competition for Bale’s left-wing slot.

Van der Vaart’s inclusion contradicts the basis of Spurs’ recent success – 4-4-2. So for the Dutchman to be accommodated he must carry on producing magic, or Jermaine Defoe and even captain Robbie Keane will be back in the side.

Meanwhile, the hardly prolific Peter Crouch, who like Roman Pavlychenko has been rotated and then rotated again in order to find the best fit, still adds to the wealth of options.

The point vividly illustrated in Redknapp’s model is that no player is irreplaceable. The squad is so deep that if anyone fails to reach his standards there are often three or four players able to step in.

Of the players discussed, each is a now a seasoned pro. Where Sir Alex Ferguson calls on, for example, Fabio da Silva, Harry has Kaboul. Similarly, if Ji-Sung Park plays poorly there is really no better replacement available.

Fans are guilty of enjoying the inclusion of young players but in the pursuit of glory is United’s squad strength enough?

Even more glaring is United’s lack of creativity in midfield. Harry bought Van der Vaart; United stuck by a more dysfunctional unit.

Earlier in the season there was reason to laud United’s strength in attacking depth. It remains true in theory. Sadly, leaving aside the whole Wayne Rooney debacle, few United strikers have regularly stepped up to the plate. Berbatov scores five one week but there is little guarantee he won’t ruin it the next.

The question remains, ‘Does United really have a big enough squad to seriously challenge on three fronts?’

Sir Alex held greater depth in previous years and although it may not have guaranteed anything now watching players’ reaction at Villa park when the two first choice strikers were removed for, critically speaking, two freshmen was instructive.

Perhaps Ferguson this more often as another season of inconsistency will not suffice for many United faithful.


Dan O' Da Lane - December 3, 2010 Reply

If a truth be told, I think that Redknapp has created a strong squad full of players with the belief that they can go one step further, you are right that there is a stronger element of top flight experience at Spurs with the additions of Van der Vaart and Gallas. As a Spurs fan, I do believe that United need to play to Berbatov’s strengths to get the best out of him, Wayne Rooney is good enough a player to adapt his game to Berbatov’s strengths and play a Robbie Keane role in the partnership – when playing with Keane the pairing scored 100 goals over 2 seasons. The loss of Valencia hasn’t helped and along with Nani and a more positive attacking attitude, they can provide the attacking threat that was prevalent in Ronaldo’s final two seasons.

C.L. - December 3, 2010 Reply

Er, aren’t you guys unbeaten in the league and sitting rather nicely on top of it?

I’ve watched my Spurs lose to Wigan (at home!), Bolton, West Ham, and United in the PL this season, so it’s not like we’re the model of consistency here! In fact our performances haven’t come close to what we were playing last season, maybe because of the added injuries and fatigue of playing in the CL. I’ll also point out that the midtable and bottom half teams are stronger this year; certainly the promoted sides look in better shape than before.

You’re a young squad and still getting results…the performances will come with time.

herbie simms - December 4, 2010 Reply

Very good article and summing up what is actually being said, it points to the fact that FERGIE is getting to old for the job. NOT just Tottenham but other teams are getting stronger in all positions, but UNITED are relying to heavily on the youngsters. Its good to bring in one or two quality young players here and there, but to play so many in a team at one time is no good. FOR example, if Evra is out injured for months, there should be another player of his calibre and quality to replace him. Should not be experimenting with different players at that position or for example play Fabio there and then after 46 minutes take him off and put O’SHEA there and then he ends up playing worse then Fabio. A new manager would come in and sort things out, just as Rednapp is doing at TOTTENHAM and what MANCINI is trying to do at Man City. YOU don’t have to spend outrages amounts of money for quality players, just spend wisely.

Onside - December 4, 2010 Reply

Are you fellas moaning because league leaders United lost to West Ham the other day?

Had we drawn or won that match, would you still be complaining about our strength in depth?

Did you moan the last 2 season when the youngsters won the Carling Cup?

It’s no good playing too many youngsters, you say? Sort of like, ‘You can’t win anything with kids’?

id44 - December 4, 2010 Reply

Thanks for the kind words as if us Spurs fans heads are not getting big enough;-) your analysis being correct but uNited are still 6 points ahead of spurs and not really
playing @ their best that speaks volumes.
Although Spurs have not been @ their best either due to injuries.Interesting seaon this
Good luck for the rest…..

bman - December 4, 2010 Reply

Gimme a break our first team and our squad are superior to Spurs. We’ve played like rubbish and are 1st in the league, they’re having the season of their lives (well, for the past two decades or so) and are in fifth. I’d have Modric, VDV (who is a crock) and Bale, but the rest of their squad are probably not as good as the players people love to slate around here, like Fletcher. Shit, we already bought two of their best players in Carrick and Berba, and we don’t think they’re good enough! You make me laugh. Talk about believing the grass is greener.

If we’re going to start moaning about not keeping up with other teams, maybe it would be more appropriate to pick a team who’s actually doing better than us?

Rotegzy - December 4, 2010 Reply

Perfect and red tinted specs.not many united fan will agree but i turn blind eye to our frailties all bcos we haven’t lost and are top of the league is absolutely our standard not other teams'(cos i’m not going to use them as my measuring point)are we performing many teams are stil scared of playing us as a ‘now’ united team not as per reputation.i used to think nostalgia is only used appropriately when u hv fond memories of events over 7-8 years old,the current squad is giving an early nostalgia(2006-2008)

Spurs Fan - December 4, 2010 Reply

I think you’ve hit on a strength of Harry’s but I don’t think either our squad or team is better than yours (look up our Carling Cup result…) Besides which, the winning culture at United is amazingly deep. You will suffer when Ferguson and the Giggs generation finally goes however.

danniitronix - December 4, 2010 Reply

exactly. yeah we are so shit, not even let in a goal in the CL qualifier, undefeated in CL and undefeated in EPL and and top top of league.

fucking mongs.

danniitronix - December 4, 2010 Reply

danniitronix said:
exactly. yeah we are so shit, not even let in a goal in the CL qualifier, undefeated in CL and undefeated in EPL and top of league.

fucking mongs.

FootballFarrago - December 4, 2010 Reply

What can United learn from Spurs? Not much. The end.

Tom Addison - December 4, 2010 Reply

Agreed that our squad depth isn’t what it was a couple of years ago, and it hasn’t helped that some players (such as Anderson) haven’t developed as planned.

Spurs are impressive and exciting, but they certainly aren’t title contenders yet. Van Der Vaart was a very shrewd signing, but now he’s injured, and anyone who’s followed his career could tell you that that would happen sooner rather than later. For me, Bale and Modric are the only two other stand-out players, the rest are merely good or very good.

As Jonathan Wilson pointed out in his latest article for The Guardian (, Spurs may soon learn lessons in Europe with regards to their attacking approach and revise it accordingly.

And let’s not write off the youngsters just yet, it was only one game. Didn’t we lose 3-0 to Villa in 1999? Look how that season turned out.

We won’t win the CL with this squad, that I have complete confidence in saying. Teams such as Barca that play 3 brilliant players in midfield would tear us apart, as would Real and perhaps Inter (who I know are having a poor season, but they’ve had quite a few injuries).

But we can still win the league if our rivals continue to shoot themseleves in the foot. If Rooney hits form, I’d say it’s a near certainty.

belgiandevil - December 4, 2010 Reply

modric for me is the midfield maestro we lack. Him and Bale (obviously) would walk into our team and make it unbeatable.

herbie simms - December 4, 2010 Reply

Chopping and changing teams most times is a failure. You have a Carling Cup team but the team that was put together for the West Ham game was not carefully thought out. Yes, United are at the top of the league and credit must be given, but looking at the whole picture and Evra said it right that United should have been at least 7 points clear at the top at this point. Yes you can play youngsters as many as you like if they are of world class quality. Its the same point that Rooney is getting at. For example, Morrison at only 17 years old is of world class quality and can play in the premier team if he can keep his personal life together. Iam talking about quality youngsters. There is a difference between a player of world class quality and a player with potential.

RedScot - December 4, 2010 Reply

Great Article ED. While the Spuds look good on paper, their not infalliable, are they as witnessed today at the high flying flowing attacking regime called Birmingham.
Not least in the since the Premiership began they have spent on net transfers per season a mere £10,149, 079….For What?
We at United have spent like for like £7,155,789. for a great return, because of our manager and the United way.
Nuf ced.

dingleberry - December 6, 2010 Reply

spurs defence is shit. strikers are shit too. prob the best midfield 5 in the league though on their day

bale modric hudd lennon

would love to take modric to replace scholes and bale to replace giggs. but that would cost 60M+ so unless they are daft enough to buy park and carrick. not going to happen. if it did …

bale modric fletcher nani

with roon and berba up front. not bad. valencia, carrick, anderson to come in when needed. still think we have the best back 5 in the league, when fit.

captainhormone - December 7, 2010 Reply

stop all this fantasy football nonsense and go back to being realistic about our team….. we are broke and rooney is gonna be sold in the next year or cock swallowing peado’s

RedScot - December 9, 2010 Reply

So helpfull. please keep commenting.Have you ever thought about a line in Politic?.With that well thought out arguement you would be a hit.I would vote for you I see you as some “Toliet trader” around West Minister dont you?

captainhormone - December 9, 2010 Reply

i’d probably see you cottaging around there so yes…i do…

ffs,the harry redknapp model…….jesus…we are Manchester United not fucking west ham united

Alfonso Bedoya - December 9, 2010 Reply

“I see you as some “Toliet trader” around West Minister dont you?”…


If only he knew, eh Cap?

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