Relationship between the White Hart Lane powerbrokers has become increasingly fractious following Spurs' failure to secure Champions League but a solution must be found
By Greg Stobart
Harry Redknapp himself describes his relationship with chairman Daniel Levy as one of an “odd couple” and recent speculation about differences of opinion would be nothing nothing new considering the history between the pair in the three-and-a-half years they have worked together at Tottenham.
Levy has a reputation as one of the most demanding executives in the country and his current opinion of Redknapp can be accurately gauged by the lack of movement with regards to the new contract offer the Spurs manager has asked for since missing out on the England job.
The rumours about the deterioration of their relationship have been rife, with suggestions in some quarters this week that Redknapp felt he needed to go on holiday and clear his head following the disappointment of failing to secure Champions League qualification.
February and the feel-good atmosphere that engulfed White Hart Lane suddenly feels a world away. Back then, Spurs were third in the Premier League and the chairman-manager formula was prospering. Levy granted Redknapp a holiday in Dubai following his court case and was in contact with the 65-year-old on a daily basis to try and persuade him to turn down a potential approach from the Football Association.
How things have changed.
|WHITE HART STRAIN
Tottenham's last 12 matches of the 2011-12 Premier League season
|Mar 4||Tottenham 1-3 Manchester United
|Mar 10||Everton 1-0 Tottenham
|Mar 21||Tottenham 1-1 Stoke|
|Mar 24||Chelsea 0-0 Tottenham
|April 1||Tottenham 3-1 Swansea City
|April 7||Sunderland 0-0 Tottenham
|April 9||Tottenham 1-2 Norwich
|April 21||QPR 1-0 Tottenham
|April 29||Tottenham 2-0 Blackburn
|May 2||Bolton 1-4 Tottenham
|May 6||Aston Villa 1-1 Tottenham
|May 13||Tottenham 2-0 Fulham
Spurs suffered a terrible end-of-season slump, won just four of their final 12 games and finished in fourth spot having once been considered as genuine title contenders. The most bitter blow came in Munich last Saturday when Chelsea won the Champions League, relegating Spurs to the Europa League next season.
It presents challenges for both Levy and Redknapp, not least in how they are going to keep their best players, the likes of Gareth Bale and Luka Modric, from the clutches of Champions League-participating clubs.
On that matter, the pair will work together. But, increasingly, they are clashing.
Levy, for example, is the man driving the club’s transfer business - including attempts to sign Jan Vertonghen, Loic Remy and Emmanuel Adebayor - with Redknapp feeling increasingly isolated and out of the loop.
The slow progress in previous transfer windows has frustrated Redknapp, with Levy sometimes unwilling to pursue targets and at other times making unreasonable offers for players, his hardball stance notoriously maddening for players and other clubs.
Levy looks to run the club with good sense. With a ground capacity of 36,000 they are forced to make every penny possible from commercial revenues to stay competitive at the same time as raising £400 million needed for a new stadium.
“I suppose anyone who’s working with Daniel would make an odd couple,” Redknapp said last year.
“He’s a businessman, a clever businessman with a fantastic business brain. He’s a good negotiator. It’s a very well-run club from the top. The new training ground will be amazing. The whole set-up, he has to take a lot of credit for the way he has run the club.”
If Levy is the businessman, Redknapp sees himself as the football man. While Levy was vindicated last year for his belligerent stance in keeping Modric, it was Redknapp who had to push his boss on an almost daily basis to sign Scott Parker.
But for both to get what they want, Champions League football is essential. Redknapp met his target of a top four finish this season but will accept the disappointment that the Londoners’ ended up praying for Bayern Munich to win on penalties, having once been 13 points clear of bitter rivals Arsenal in third place in the Premier League.
The likelihood is that Spurs will sell Luka Modric this summer and grant the playmaker his desire to leave. That will go some way towards softening the financial blow after missing out on £35m in revenues that would have come from a place in Europe’s elite competition.
Levy has decided that he wants Redknapp to take charge of Spurs next season, but the England speculation has taken its toll.
During the team’s terrible run of form towards the end of the season, players privately complained about fatigue, a lack of tactics and match preparation. The suspicion was that Redknapp had mentally switched off, thinking he would be getting a call from the Football Association about becoming the next Three Lions manager.
In that period of limbo, Spurs sounded out potential replacements, including Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers, with forward-thinking, progressive ideas that made the Redknapp regime appear archaic to some within White Hart Lane.
In appointing Redknapp in October 2008, Levy accepted that he could not get his preferred management system - a director of football and head coach - to work.
If Redknapp does not receive an offer of a new contract - his current deal expires next summer - then speculation will hang over the club throughout next season. For the sake of stability, the Spurs boss needs to settle his differences with Levy and sign a new deal.
Clashes between managers and chairmen, particularly over transfers, are hardly new. Tottenham’s fourth placed finish this season, not to mention their performances, still indicate progress.
The odd couple has proven a strange but successful partnership in the past. They need to reconcile their differences and pull in the right direction once again.