Oh Harry! We Love You!

August 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

First published on SB NATION, February 10 2012

We should probably talk about this, gents and gentesses. I get that you’re all enthusiastic. The grumpy foreign man who didn’t like you very much and wasn’t shy about showing it is gone, along with his broken English and his intimidating chin and his overwhelming history of success and impeccable qualifying record, and the only downside is that you’ll have to retire the word “martinet” for the foreseeable. But, well …this?

Light the beacons across the land, let the church bells ring out in joy

And I get that his longed for replacement, the ‘Eir ‘Apparent, is somebody that you all like. Occasional outbursts at innocent Sky Sports microphone monkeys aside, Harry Redknapp is a genial man, generous with his time and well-versed in that kind of banterous joshery that makes press conferences pass by. He is also willing to comment on absolutely anything, to the point that you wouldn’t be surprised to see him pull up beside you, roll down his window, and tell you what he’d had in his sandwich that lunchtime, how triffic it tasted, how happy he was with his sandwiches, before adding that while of course you should never comment on sandwiches belonging to other teams, Kenny Dalglish had a tidy little beef-and-horseradish number the other day, and you’d have to be mad not to appreciate it.

All that, and he’s in charge of a Champions League-bound football team that play thrillingly quick, muscular, Welsh-Croat-Dutch Togolese English football. Wingers! Running! Biggles in midfield! He’s great. But, well … this?

Redknapp is a patriot, a man who loves recalling how he played alongside Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters


“Harry, are you flattered to be the People’s Choice?”

And this?

The cuddly, amusing, utterly human Harry Redknapp.

Now, a cynic might suggest that you’re deliberately exaggerating things in order to manufacture extreme positions; trying to cast reality — a terribly average business at the best of times — as a tumble of blasts and counterblasts, pitching and yawing from hither to yon, such turbulence being, happily, the engine of newspaper sales. But let’s not be unkind.

Instead, let’s assume you’re being utterly human, and confront what’s happening head on. This is an intervention, and we need you to be honest with yourselves. Ladies and gentlemen of the English press, much as you may scoff at the idea, it’s as plain as could be.

You’ve got a crush.

I’m sure it feels like the real thing. It always does. So you’ve doodled I ❤ HR IDST onto your shorthand pads; luckily the FC 4 EVA is almost completely illegible by now. Because this time it’s right and perfect and you’ll be together for ever: ‘Arry and the fourth estate, walking arm in arm into a glorious future for English football. Right?

Well. The problem with crushes is that the headlong assumption of perfection can only lead to one place: disappointment. And it’s not as though we don’t know what’s going on. If you recall your last flame, his stern, old-school, othery stylings pushed all your buttons. Why? Because before that, you’d been let down by an informal, slightly geeky, home-grown man. Before him, a Scandinavian maven. On and on it goes, and back and forth you scurry, from one true love to the next, each fatuous infatuation clutched fleetingly to your hyperventilating bosom before being thrown charmlessly aside for the next in line.

Is a little perspective too much too ask? Can we perhaps acknowledge that Fabio Capello was a very good manager who didn’t get things right, and then, crucially, extend this reasonableness into the future? Because Harry Redknapp — and I know, I know, he’s a cuddly human — is a very good manager, who may not get things right. He’ll do his best. Eventually, he will fail, as they all must. And you will chew him up and spit him out and move on before the roses have wilted.

You’re grown men and women. Stop doing this to yourselves. And, please, please, please, stop doing this to us.


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