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The 66-year-old stood on the brink of managing England just over a year ago but now seems destined to tarnish his CV with relegation to the Championship with QPR

By Jay Jaffa

When Harry Redknapp eventually calls time on his managerial career, he may well look back at February 2012 with a touch of angst. In the second week of the month, he was cleared of cheating the public revenue and saw his high-flying Tottenham team demolish Newcastle 5-0 at White Hart Lane. Sandwiched in between - and on the same day of his acquittal - came news of Fabio Capello's departure from the England hotseat. Privately, Redknapp must have felt his stars had aligned.



Things do not always play out as you'd expect though – even for happy-go-lucky Cockneys – and Redknapp, the supposed 'popular' candidate for the England job, was overlooked for the industrious, peripatetic Roy Hodgson. From here, Tottenham's season fell away as they gave up a 12-point lead on north London rivals Arsenal and finished fourth for the second time under his tenure.

In the summer, Daniel Levy gave Redknapp the news he neither expected nor wanted to hear – he was off, the man in charge Joe Lewis had entertained him long enough. A canny customer, Redknapp was relieved of his duties on someone else's terms for only the second time in his high-level managerial career. This was not in the script.

The 66-year-old still has his detractors in N17, but they are probably evenly split with those who yearn for the days of high-octane, free-flowing football. Andre Villas-Boas may have a more structured and measured approach, but the style of football under Redknapp remains the best seen at White Hart Lane since the days of Bill Nicholson.

The fact he left honourably, without a grimace or a snipe at the club – at least initially, his comments regarding his contract left a bitter taste – gave the impression that he had enjoyed his time at Spurs. He took the club to two Premier League high finishes of fourth, led them into their maiden Champions League campaign and blew away the European champions Inter 3-1 in a stunning game at the Lane.

Even critics of his training, tactics and style run out of yarn when you consider the form of Luka Modric, Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale under his tenure. His methods could be dated, but he was a master of getting good players performing at their best – only Bale is reaching the same highs (and beyond) in 2012-13.

So what has happened at QPR? Taking the job itself felt like a backwards step – though aside from the unlikely prospect of taking the Chelsea gig, he was always destined to move to a club on a lower plane to Spurs – but there was a sense the Rs could escape trouble with the experienced miracle-worker at the helm, while he must have believed he could restore his bruised reputation.

Tony Fernandes backed Redknapp in January and the signings of Christopher Samba and Loic Remy had the bookmakers recalculating their relegation markets.

22/1 QPR are 22/1 with bet365 to avoid relegation from the Premier League
Redknapp has always displayed a preference for signing Premier League-ready footballers – players that know the league and the level of concentration and effort required to be competitive. In that sense, signing Samba was inspired. Only the giant Congolese centre-back had not played football for close to two months by the time he made his debut in the 0-0 draw with Norwich.

The £22 million outlay in January was typical Redknapp. He brought in talented players – Andros Townsend being the surprise package on loan from Spurs – and energised a club cemented to the Premier League basement. However his dissatisfaction with the squad he inherited has been plain to see; conflicting words of praise and anger towards Adel Taarabt, the alienation of Esteban Granero, all summed up this week: "You say talented players. Are they that talented?"

Evidently not. Initially the west Londoners collected six points from their first four games of the Redknapp era, but a series of chokes in 'must-win' games have scuppered hopes of survival. They are 10 points off safety with just five games to go.

Now the talk, rather inevitably, is whether Redknapp will stay. A Daily Mirror report suggested on Monday that he was open to dropping into the Championship and reshaping the squad a la Southampton 2005-06. The Championship! Redknapp! This was the man on the brink of managing his nation one year ago.

If the power brokers continue to back QPR in the transfer market with similar figures as this season, Redknapp will fancy his chances of bouncing back into the Premier League at the first attempt and will likely be buoyed by Fernandes' intention to build a new stadium.

But the Championship is an unforgiving beast as clubs such as Blackburn and Wolves have found out to their peril this season and anything other than promotion will tarnish Redknapp's CV further. This season's rescue mission was an impossible task remember.

Redknapp spun the wheel when he agreed to succeed the hapless Mark Hughes, but as the Welshman is finding out in unemployment, you don't get too many more spins when you fail.

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