If you’re looking for pithy quotes from Harry Redknapp after Clint Dempsey’s late goal salvaged a tie for Fulham at Fratton Park earlier today, you’re shit out of luck. That’s because Redknapp (above, right, in snappy new jacket) — in exchange for a hefty cash payment — is already ensconced at White Hart Lane, following Tottenham’s decision to fire Juande Ramos. While Redknapp observed Spurs’ 2-0 victory over fellow strugglers Bolton, the Guardian’s Amy Lawrence opines “it is easy to kick a man while he is down. But there has been something about Ramos’s body language that makes it even easier.”
Arms folded. Lips pursed. Could he have been any more passive? Will he have greeted his dismissal with a noncommital shrug? Does his assistant, Gus Poyet, have a monopoly on facial expressions? Did the outgoing manager honestly think that his players would respond to adversity, starting against Bolton today, when they had seen nothing from their boss to spark them? Tottenham needed Ramos to show a touch of the Joe Kinnears. But he has, for weeks, looked like a man needing to be put out of his misery.
Ramos is not the first Premier League manager this season to find himself caught up in a nightmare not entirely of his own making. Alan Curbishley and Kevin Keegan had reason to feel -similarly exposed by bad decision-making from above. Both effectively fell victim to a director of football. Both refused to accept unwanted meddling with the squad from on high. Both walked. Now Ramos has gone, too.
But there is a fundamental difference between Ramos’s attitude towards his director of football and that of Curbishley or Keegan. He should not have been surprised by the way his squad was reshaped in the summer. The Spaniard has known little else. At every club in La Liga, deals are cut without much input from the coach. Rafael BenÃtez summed it up famously in his Valencia days when he was presented with completely the wrong type of squad reinforcements. ‘I asked for a sofa,’ he said. ‘And they bought me a lampshade.’
Such practice is common throughout Europe. No Italian coach expects much say in who comes and goes during a transfer window. They can ask for a new player to fill a specific position and then the general manager or sporting -director – someone with the ear of the club president – will do the rest. Ask yourself whether Carlo Ancelotti really asked for David Beckham to strengthen AC Milan, or whether it was their chief trader, vice-president Adriano Galliani, who thought it was a bright idea.