Harry has just been Harry in the last few weeks, looking on saggy jowled and mostly impassively as the team gets fit and prepares for the season ahead. Inside though he must be thinking â€œthis is it, this is my chance.â€ He can have rarely been in a better position to launch a team at the top of the table.
Heâ€™s been in charge since that memorable win over Bolton in November and the players have responded ever since. He spent money in January and built a team to avoid relegation but now heâ€™s got to turn that side into one that can sustain enough form over the next eight months so that by the time we get past those three tricky fixtures in April the opportunity for a high finish is still within our own hands.
In Defoe, Modric and Lennon heâ€™s got attackers that are world class. Perhaps only King could be considered in a similar bracket beyond that but who knows how many games heâ€™s going to play? Thereâ€™s quality everywhere though and at centre half and most other positions heâ€™s now got enough cover to cope with injuries and absences. Because of that heâ€™s going to find it tough to keep a large squad happy in the season before a World Cup summer. If the team is successful then any bleats about not getting enough games will be easy to brush off but certain of the buys in January may only have been made to cover the second half of last season and help ensure safety. The next few months will certainly reveal whether Robbie Keane was one of those but itâ€™s hard not to think that Pascal Chimbondaâ€™s agent may be one of the first we hear from on a slow news day.
One possible long arm of a cloud on the horizon could be that of the law. The Guardian reported in June that Redknapp is still on bail following his arrest several years ago as part of the City Of London police investigation into football â€œcorruptionâ€ and the inquiry into any wrongdoing is still ongoing. When (or even whether) the police or the FA or HMRC will actually make more announcements or take any action appears to be anyoneâ€™s guess but knowing our luckâ€¦. Something of a judicial nature though is surely the only thing that could affect Harryâ€™s current position; thereâ€™s no danger of a repeat of the Halloween and Bonfire Night coups weâ€™ve seen too many of in the last few years. The chairman loves him, the players love him and the fans love him.
Harryâ€™s tweaked the squad over the summer rather than overhauled. He was never a fan of Zokora and good player though Bent can be he never quite fitted into the workaholic target man template that Redknapp thought we needed. Gilberto, Rocha and Ghaly were also offloaded and more and more the squad looks like his as the number of disappointing relics from the Ramos and Jol days is reduced. The board apparently dumped Jol because he wouldnâ€™t commit to being able to get in to the top four two seasons ago. Theyâ€™re now right behind Harry so what do we read into that? Either theyâ€™ve realised their mistake in being over ambitious (unlikely), or the manager has cast his spell on Levy and the rest and, as he is so good at doing, told them enough of what they want to hear to get them on his side.
As we approach Sunday we have a man in charge whose goals match our own. We need a few years of stability, a few years of the team of the team adding up to more than the sum of its parts and a few years of consistent progress and under Redknapp we can achieve this. Harry knows this is an opportunity not to be spurned and on paper at least heâ€™s got the players to perform the task. Now letâ€™s see how they do on grass.
Have something to tell us about this article?