Face One cares nothing for the devil. It’s smiley, expansive. It says: Come join the party, me old mucker. Face Two, alternatively, is lugubrious, bloodhound-like. It warns: Do Not Resuscitate.
The second of these faces was on view to the general public last week. With the assistance of some media acquaintances, a mournful ’Arry took you on an inspection tour of his extensive world of pain.
When I finished reading the forensic reports of his maladies – maladies alleged to have precipitated his resignation from Queens Park Rangers – I felt as if I’d been reading a script from the pathology drama, Silent Witness.
I shall not trouble you with the full narrative. Safe to say the Redknapp knees, to employ the vernacular, have gone at all levels. Apparently, the deterioration in them is such that two replacement joints are required. So, H, according to reports, decided he was no longer physically equipped to manage QPR in their fight for Premier League survival.
His resignation speech was not without drama. It was delivered in a phone call to chairman Tony Fernandes at 5.30 on Tuesday morning – only a few hours after the January transfer window had closed, with QPR’s cupboard significantly bare of business.
Now, Redknapp has a colourful history of putting his arm on club potentates, and demanding lots of money to spend on new players – specifically when it’s their money (current estimates place the Loftus Road tally at £36.5million for just over two years’ labour).
And, until recently, he had been certainly considered bringing the enigmatic, erratic and expensive Emmanuel Adebayor to Loftus Road on a loan deal. An alternative was Jermaine Defoe.
But, being a man who could never be confused with the village idiot, H – as he is known in the trade – would not have been encouraged by the chairman’s tweet on Monday that the cheque book was staying in the club’s safe,
So, back to the timing of his resignation. It was revealed that some people, including Harry’s garrulous son, Jamie, believed it had been disastrous, for it hinted at a fit of pater pique.
But H, no stranger to spontaneous combustion when events seem to be militating against him, was anxious to pre-empt anyone forming such conspiratorial conclusions.
“I know what people think – that I’ve been sacked, or stormed off because we couldn’t get the players in,” he explained. “ I haven’t got the hump; we haven’t had a row. I’ve not had a problem with Tony Fernandes in all my time here.”
Son Jamie was correct, of course. It was not the most propitious time to be resigning, and I imagine his father’s reasons were met with an uncomfortable amount of derision. The question now is: was such cynicism deserved?
Look, I don’t doubt for one moment the degree of Redknapp’s physical suffering. Having been plagued by cartilage problems in the last few years, I’ve experienced the dreadful pain these joints can inflict on a man. Compassion, therefore, must be in order.
And yet I remain far from convinced that it was solely his infirmity that inclined him towards departure gate. It was only last October, after all, he was quoted as saying: “I’m first one out on that training ground every single day. Every day. Anybody who says I’m not is lying. I’m in this ground 07.30 every morning. Everybody can bring their cameras any day of the week, when the players are out there, I’m there.”
Besides, if he was so debilitated by his knees and therefore considering resignation, why was he even bothering to effect a January window signing? How would he have squared it with Adebayor or Defoe if they had arrived, only to see him limping out the door clutching his P45?
Moreover, assuming his relationship with Fernandes was as sound as the pound he claimed it to be, couldn’t he have asked for time off in order to have surgery? After all, he was forever telling anyone who would listen that Kevin Bond and company were perfectly capable deputies in the event of his absence.
Now I’m afraid, unlike some of my former Fleet Street colleagues, I’m unable to swallow that explanation. I have conducted my own inquiries and, as far as I can discern, his position was rapidly becoming untenable.
I understand Les Ferdinand’s appointment as Head of Football Operations last October was the prelude to much pressure being applied to the manager. Whereas his preference was to throw money at the situation, the owner urged Ferdinand to pursue a youth policy.
According to insiders, Redknapp and the former QPR striker were not at all close and found it difficult to establish any kind of relationship, particularly as Ferdinand seemed to be in charge of the transfer kitty.
H, having been round the block more times than a road runner, sensed he was being marginalised. And the marginalisation wasn’t restricted to the political battlefield.
There was a dispute with Glenn Hoddle – a friend of Harry’s, incidentally – over tactics. Harry wanted to play 3-5-2. Hoddle told him the players weren’t able enough and it was he who won the day when the team resorted to 4-4-2.
Even with the conventional system, the results were poor. Harry’s health, distinct from the state of his knees, was not what it should be, either. He admitted to people a month or so ago that he was “knackered.” So, I imagine that he took the easiest exit door and resigned before the inevitable occurred.
Life in the pressure cabin of Premier Division management could not have been easy for the 67-year-old. But, in my opinion, his explanation didn’t ring strictly true. It offended instincts.
I’m just surprised that it didn’t register with some people in Fleet Street. They should have known far better. Might they have been seduced by the quixotic Face One of Harry Redknapp?