Just seven months ago, some fans and analysts were calling Tottenham Hotspur true title contenders. Now, before the official start of summer, manager Harry Redknapp has been sacked by the club. I've said it many times before, and I'll likely say it many times again going forward.
Football really is a funny, funny game.
Spurs confirmed via the team's official website on Thursday that Redknapp is no longer the team's manager. The post contains a message from Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy, who stated the following: "This is not a decision the Board and I have taken lightly. Harry arrived at the Club at a time when his experience and approach was exactly what was needed. This decision in no way detracts from the excellent work Harry has done during his time with the Club and I should like to thank him for his achievements and contribution. Harry will always be welcome at the Lane."
Redknapp also provided quotes for the website post, saying: "I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Spurs and am proud of my achievements. I have had a fantastic four years with the Club, at times the football has been breathtaking. I am sad to be leaving but wish to thank the players, staff and fans for their terrific support during my time there."
Redknapp was dismissed exactly one week after reports came out that he and Levy were failing to come to terms on a contract extension that would have potentially kept Redknapp as Tottenham manager through the 2015-16 season. Unconfirmed rumors began to swirl this past Tuesday that Redknapp was set to quit Spurs, rumors that were angrily denied by the then team manager. 24 hours after those denials, however, Sky Sports reported that Redknapp would be departing from Spurs.
One thing seems very clear regarding Redknapp leaving Spurs, and that is that this was not a mutual decision. Redknapp was sacked, and he essentially said as much during an interview that was posted on the BBC website Thursday morning local time. "I met with the chairman, and the club decided to move in a different direction with the manager, and that's their decision," Redknapp told reporters. He went on to say that the decision had "nothing to do with contracts or me asking for anything at all. I had a year left, and that was fine, it was just a case that the club wanted to have a change."
Redknapp also said that speculation regarding his taking the England National Team job had no affect on his being sacked, and that Levy and the board would have made the same decision had Spurs earned Champions League football. "I still think the same outcome would have come if we had finished...if Chelsea wouldn't have (beaten Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final last month). That's the feeling I've got...I still think the chairman would have gone down the same road as he went down yesterday. But that's football. I've had four great years, and I think all you can do is leave the club in a better shape than you found it. I did that, for sure." Redknapp also made it very clear that this will not be his final job in football.
Thus the Redknapp era at Tottenham ends exactly as it had to; with controversy, a fan base very much so split in two camps (one being a "this is a disgraceful decision from Levy and the board" camp, while the other group is celebrating Redknapp's departure), and Harry giving a "goodbye interview" from the driver's seat of his car. How Tottenham fans remember the past four years will be determined by their opinions regarding Thursday's announcement. Spurs finished fourth, fifth and fourth in the past three years, they earned Champions League football once under Redknapp, and they also notched a surprise victory when away to AC Milan in 2011.
Things weren't so glorious for Spurs one year after that historic win. Tottenham blew a 2-0 lead against Arsenal at the Emirates, and Spurs then completed a run that saw them win just one Premier League match in a two month window. Such a win drought allowed the Gunners to replace Spurs in the third spot in the league table, and Tottenham never again climbed out of fourth place. Spurs finished the 2011-12 campaign one point behind Arsenal and two points away from Champions League football.
I, a dedicated Spurs fan, will always be grateful to Harry Redknapp for how the team performed over the past several years. With that said, I also understand why this decision was made. When such a talented team loses Champions League football as did Spurs this past spring, a change is practically a guarantee. I disagree with some of what Redknapp told reporters, in that I think he could have saved his job had Spurs defeated Aston Villa back on May 6. A win then coupled with a victory over Fulham at the Lane on Survival Sunday would have landed Spurs in third place at the conclusion of the season. That didn't happen, though, and Tottenham are now without both Champions League and a manager.