Spurs were thrashed 5-1 by Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday to continue their dreadful run of form since their manager was made favourite to take the Three Lions job
By Greg Stobart at Wembley
Two months ago it seemed the whole country wanted Harry Redknapp as the new England manager with the sole exception of Tottenham fans who serenaded the nation’s favourite with chants of ‘we want you to stay’.
Now, some might consider him lucky if he is in a job at all come the start of next season.
The Football Association’s four-man Club England management team - David Bernstein, Alex Horne, Sir Trevor Brooking and Adrian Bevington - decided last month to make Redknapp their first choice for the Three Lions job and are expected to make an official approach to Spurs before the end of the season.
While Redknapp was, and remains, the overwhelming candidate to become the next England manager, the period since Fabio Capello’s resignation in mid-February has underlined why his appointment would carry a significant element of risk.
|SPURS' RECORD SINCE CAPELLO QUIT
It would be fickle of the FA to change their minds at this stage but Redknapp must surely be worried that he is blowing his audition for his ‘dream’ job as Tottenham’s implosion gathers worrying pace by the week.
On Sunday, on the back of a run of one win from their last eight Premier League matches, Tottenham fell to a humbling 5-1 defeat to rivals Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
Redknapp probably arrived at the national stadium thinking he would get used to the home dressing room Spurs occupied, but even he must be starting to worry that FA chiefs might change their minds.
There is nothing a manager can do about a decision to award a goal like Juan Mata’s in the 49th minute, which put Chelsea two ahead. The ball quite clearly did not cross the line and Redknapp showed quite admirable restraint in refusing to harangue referee Martin Atkinson in his post-match press conference.
The cynics might suggest that Redknapp’s verdict, that Atkinson "made an honest mistake", was partly motivated by his reluctance to upset the FA.
But blasting the referee would not worry the FA powers that be anywhere near as much as the tactical errors he has made in recent weeks and repeated on Sunday.
By Redknapp’s own admission, Spurs were back in the game when Gareth Bale scored to make it 2-1 but blew it by going hell for leather with time still on their side. There were 15 minutes left and still chances to be created when Tottenham brought on Jermain Defoe and went gung-ho, effectively playing four up front.
Chelsea took advantage of their rivals’ kamikaze tactics with some sweeping moves and ruthless finishing. The game was over and in knockout football - the format in which international tournaments are played, of course - you do not get a second chance.
Redknapp has won just one trophy in his managerial career - the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008 - and his lack of winning experience will have been one of the notes in the ‘cons’ box under his name.
Sentimentality would be another. Carlo Cudicini, at fault for Chelsea's fourth goal scored by Frank Lampard, was selected ahead of first choice goalkeeper Brad Friedel because he had played in the previous rounds of the cup.
It was not a decision made in the interests of picking the best team to win the game. So what can we expect if Redknapp is in an England dressing room and looking at faces - the likes of Lampard and Rio Ferdinand - with whom he has built an emotional connection in the past?
After the game, Redknapp seemed resigned and deflated. For all his talk about how Spurs have actually been playing well despite their dire results, he knows that his side are blowing it in emphatic fashion.
Once considered title contenders, then shoo-ins for third place, Tottenham now face a real battle to finish in the Champions League places this season. They currently sit fourth in the table with five games to play, level on points with Newcastle and just two points ahead of Chelsea.
Their run-in looks kinder than those of their rivals but it is hard to see where the next win is going to come from if the players continue to play with so little organisation, energy or heart.
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Much of that is down to Redknapp. A master motivator when the team is playing well, he struggles to pick the players up when Spurs are on a bad run, while his lack of squad rotation during the campaign results in an obvious weariness. It is no coincidence that Tottenham finished last season on a similar run, when they won just three of their final 12 games.
Redknapp’s target at the start of the season was to finish in the top four and White Hart Lane executives feel the squad is comfortably good enough to achieve a place in the Champions League.
Should Spurs sneak fourth place, they will have met their goal even though their understandable disappointment over the final third of the campaign will remain.
But to finish fifth, having been 13 points clear of fourth at one stage, will be a disaster, and one with deep consequences in the likely sale of at least one of the club’s two prized assets, Luka Modric and Bale.
It would be a finish that, if England do not come calling, could result in Redknapp losing his job anyway. He would do well to remember that the last Spurs manager to finish fifth two seasons in a row, Martin Jol, was sacked.
And no supporters are chanting for him to stay now.
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