Sunday, 2 November 2008

Harry Hotspur's Houdini act shows wannabe clubs: Buy British

Sir John Harvey-Jones meets Harry Houdini! Harry Redknapp's overnight arrival and resurrection of Tottenham stands alongside Hull City as the story of the season so far.

After jumping ship at Fratton, steering Spurs to their first league win, earning a miraculous point at Arsenal, coming-from-behind to topple leaders Liverpool to treble their points tally - then mashing it up in Europe, there's a lesson to be learned for other wannabe clubs.

The clue to Tottenham's amazing turnaround lies in Harry being English.

Because if Tottenham aspire to being a Big Four club, they'll be wise to remember they're not there yet - neither do they compete at that level in any way.

Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal qualify annually for the Champions League; that's their ambition, platform and community. The players they compete for and the teams they must beat are of a different gravy altogether. A foreign coach and setup is how they must operate.

And while Mark Hughes and Roy Keane are Fergie's heir-apparents, I'm sure Manchester United will be thinking long and hard about employing a foreign coach before crowning a former United playing hero.

But for Spurs and that matter Villa and Man City, it's a different play in the English arena. If they're lucky, those clubs'll grab a UEFA Cup place as they improve. A British coach is frankly what's required with their opponents and the players they go for in the transfer market.

Furthermore, as their football outlook is more provincial, employing a British coach helps embody the spirit of the terraces. Birmingham's football public is an English, Welsh and Irish mix, so who better than Martin O'Neill to personify that spirit? If Spurs fans relate to Harry, it helps unite them behind the team. Harry is an eastender made good.

Juande Ramos and a Director of Football was an appointment for when they made the Champions League - not as they aspired to it.
Being a perennial Champions League club is very different from an also-ran and the decision to go continental is as clear as whether you eat from that top table or whether you're looking in at it.

The day Spurs appointed Redknapp was the day that Spurs understood who they were. That's why Harry's unlocking this group of talented players so instantly.