By Greg Stobart
Few people inside White Hart Lane will be surprised that Harry Redknapp's downfall as Tottenham manager came as his relationship with Daniel Levy, the club’s chairman, reached the point of no return.
The pair, described by Redknapp himself as "the odd couple", rarely saw eye to eye during the 65-year-old's four years at the helm but it was the dispute over a new contract during the last two weeks that brought the situation to a head.
Redknapp, whose existing contract was due to expire in 12 months, wanted a new three or four-year deal as a reward for his achievements since being appointed in October 2008. To that end he appointed Paul Stretford, the agent of Wayne Rooney, to conduct negotiations.
Stretford and Redknapp, however, misjudged Levy's mood and essentially delivered an ultimatum to the Spurs chief, demanding a new deal on vastly improved terms to his £3.1 million-a-year contract.
Levy was not against keeping Redknapp at White Hart Lane after last season’s fourth-placed finish and given the lack of outstanding candidates to replace the former West Ham and Portsmouth boss.
With Levy reluctant to discuss improved terms and having no intention of offering Redknapp more than a one-year extension, it became clear that they were faced with a stand-off that would hang over the club all season.
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Redknapp had felt that the club’s reluctance to offer him a new deal was disrespectful while the Spurs board were angered by his public manoeuvrings so soon after he had openly flirted with the England job.
Levy was especially angered by Redknapp’s suggestion last week that players would be unsettled if he was not offered a longer deal, having previously claimed that the squad would not be affected by speculation linking him with the England position.
Redknapp had put off talks in February as he waited for an approach from the Football Association and speculation linking him to the Three Lions coincided with a drastic slump in form as Tottenham conceded a 10-point lead over rivals Arsenal. Ultimately, it meant the north London club missed out on a place in next season’s Champions League after Chelsea won the competition this year.
During that time, concerns were raised about his match preparation, training and tactics, while Spurs actively searched for potential replacements, with new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers their preferred choice.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez and David Moyes of Everton are now likely to be the leading candidates to replace Redknapp as Spurs look for a younger, more progressive manager who will make the most of the facilities available in their new £40m state-of-the-art training centre.
Redknapp’s appointment was never a long-term decision in the first place, borne of expediency with the team bottom from the table with two points from eight games.
Levy alluded to that in the statement announcing Redknapp's departure, saying: "Harry arrived at the club at a time when his experience and approach was exactly what was needed."
The Spurs board will say that their gamble in dismissing Redknapp is an indication of their ambition, their desire to play regularly in the Champions League in their planned new 60,000-seater stadium.
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Other will feel that Levy is unrealistic and too demanding, especially given the club’s strict wage structure and his notorious haggling in the transfer market.
But a decision had to be made now, rather than repeat the mistake made under Martin Jol when Spurs opted not to sack the Dutchman in the summer of 2007, only to dismiss him October following a poor start to the season overshadowed by rumours about the manager's future.
Redknapp furiously denied reports he was ready to quit Spurs earlier this week but, in reality, he accepted his time was up at the club. Quite simply, he and Levy lost faith in each other, there was no longer any trust to maintain a strong working relationship.
Both have had their own personal turmoils this year, Redknapp with a heart scare and high profile court case - he was acquitted on charges of tax evasion in February - while Levy suffered a family bereavement last week.
For all the shock of a decision to sack a manager who guided the team to two fourth-placed finishes in the last three seasons, it felt like a natural time for a parting of the ways.
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