Saturday, May 28, 2011

FIFA - An International Disgrace

There has long been rumour and story of corruption within FIFA so it is no real surprise to see the fresh allegations being made against its very senior members this week with even the previously bullet proof Sepp Blatter being asked to face an Ethics Committee. What has been surprising however is that the whistle blowers have been FIFA members themselves. Usually where ranks have closed, the thirst and lust for power with the impending election has seen an implosion to a level of infighting never previously seen.

The outcome of the various investigations and proceedings are almost irrelevant as it is clear that the problem within FIFA is endemic and that it goes to the very top. Only a complete overhaul and shake up of the procedures and personnel would make any meaningful difference, either carrying on with Blatter or replacing him with the equally distasteful bin Hamman will simply see FIFA carry on their merry way with pockets full of cash.

The debacle over the World Cup voting system was well documented and it now seems that the internal voting system for the Presidential candidacy is equally shady and utterly tainted. Stories of 'bundles of cash' being handed to delegates in Trinidad are highly disturbing but not in the least surprising. The election should be suspended following a full enquiry with the members in question all being suspended pending such enquiry.

It would be naive in the extreme to think that business around the world works any differently in many instances but where it is so incredibly distasteful is that FIFA is meant to be a governing body with a mandate to look after the good of football, not to make its employees rich. Ethics are regularly questionable in a huge degree of businesses but those businesses are attempting to make money pure and simple, they are not posing as a benevolent organisation acting for the good of the World whilst at the same time furiously lining their own pockets, the hypocrisy is almost without compare.

With this washing of dirty laundry in front of the entire World, FIFA has lost every shred of respect it may have still held as an organisation. The whole world will continue to love football but FIFA is doing much to harm the image of the game. FIFA is expected to announce record profits of hundreds of millions of euros and when one thinks of the World Cup nowadays it is a trophy plastered with the illustrious names of McDonalds, Budweiser, Adidas (a sports company at least, not just an organisation that makes people fatter) and Visa (which makes people poorer).

There is nothing wrong with FIFA turning a profit if the money is to be put back into the sport with the aim of helping build and improve facilities in poorer nations and giving children a chance to play the sport where otherwise they would not. For delegates however to simply skim money off the top and live and travel so lavishly is an utter disgrace and so unfortunately is FIFA - No Nonsense.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ancelotti pays the price

Chelsea didn't even wait until their bus trip back to London before apparently ending Carlo Ancelotti's tenure as coach at Stamford Bridge. Whilst Chelsea's season was indeed a disappointing one, this premature and reactionary response belies a club run at the whim of its benefactor (a generous one granted) and without the required experience to operate at the very top of football.

Real Madrid behave in entirely the same manner and one must surely conclude that had they not taken actions such as sacking Vincente Del Bosque after he had won the league title and engaged in even a small modicum of continuity, that they would have won more trophies since.

Where Chelsea differ from Real Madrid is that they are not Real Madrid. Whatever the short term nature of the Madrid board, it is still Real and the best coaches in the world will queue up to take the job and the risk that comes with it. It is a name you want or your CV pure and simple. Chelsea is still a club building it's reputation as a European power and regardless of the quality of the current team, it is still a long way down the list when compared to a Real or a Barca, an AC or even a Bayern Munich or a Liverpool. People will go to Chelsea  because for the large part huge financial incentive and currently a strong chance of winning medals - and in that order. It is not because 'it was the club they've supported since they were a boy' unless of course they sign Robbie Keane.

Until now it had been possible to defend Abramovich to a degree with his managerial policy. Ranieri was never his man and whilst a likeable guy, not at the very top echelon. Mourinho was a superb hire but he engineered his own removal after things soured with the Shevchenko debacle for which Abramovich also was mainly to blame. Grant was a stop gap and nothing else and Scolari was thought to be a great choice only for the players to decide otherwise. All of which led us to Ancelotti.

Chelsea knew what they were getting with Ancelotti, that was a man whilst coaching AC Milan for eight seasons who won only three major trophies, two Champions Leagues and a mere one Scudetto. The Champions League success was the attraction for the hiring but his managerial record was hardly the stuff of insparation in terms of silverware. There was also a suspicion that Ancelotti had a knack of getting the best out of an ageing squad which was certainly what he was inheriting at Chelsea which is still very much the team that Jose built. It may even be that Chelsea (foolishly if they did) saw Ancelotti as a stop gap appointment to milk the ageing squad before rebuilding with younger players.

Ancelotti won as many league titles in first year at Chelsea as he did in eight at AC Milan so was it really to be expected that he would win the Premiership every season? He won the Champions League with AC on average once every four years so again, could he be blamed for not delivering that trophy so far?

Chelsea are a club at a crossroads. They have lost out again to ManYoo this season, their squad is past its peak and Manchester City with their financial backing have the potential to dominate for several seasons if they are able to add the very best. Abramovich restored a large degree of faith with the January recruiting of Torres and Luiz but it is clear that several replacements of the same calibre are required. It is clear for any manager now taking the Chelsea job that should they fail to match either Ferguson or Mancini (or whomever is in the two hot seats up North) then they will face the axe. Armed with this knowledge and the condition of the current squad, one would think Chelsea would have to guarantee to underwrite a significant squad investment to any prospective manager. Chelsea are not Real Madrid and it would therefore be incredibly helpful if they stopped behaving like them - No Nonsense.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Premiership Season End of Term Marks

So, it's all over. Not exactly a vintage season but as usual with the world's most watched league plenty of drama and not a small amount of controversy. As the dust now settles it's time to give the assorted protagonists their end of term report cards. So, starting at the top.

Manchester United, 'A'
Hardly a vintage season for the Reds but a record nineteenth title was duly delivered and that is all that matters. Regardless of the result at Wembley this week they have backed up their domestic success with another sound European campaign. There is however rebuilding work to be done this Summer starting with the goalkeeping position.

Chelsea, 'C'
Second place is far from a disaster but a dreadful Winter left only a fleeting glimmer of real hope in lifting this year's title. Ancelotti has duly been axed by a board and owner that has lost touch with reality. Disappointment came also in the shape of a premature European exit and despite the signings of Luiz and Torres, further squad rebuilding is required as well as the hunt for another manager ready for sacrifice.

Manchester City, 'B-'
Mancini and their spin doctors will have you believe this was a glorious season with the twin targets of the Champions League and silverware both being achieved. The reality is however that with a modicum of management stability established and a squad that is the envy of most of Europe, a credible title challenge could and should have been expected. The removal of the transfer scatter gun and the successful recruiting of one or two top class players this Summer will dictate whether they can achieve what should be their minimum aim next season - The Title.

Arsenal, 'D'
Pretty football for much of the season with decent results up until February coupled with an utter collapse thereafter. This could apply to any of their previous five seasons, repeat ad tedium. Wenger continues to remain in complete denial and unless some money is spent this Summer then Arsenal will be in very real danger of losing their top four status with what may be a rejuvenated Liverpool. The sale of their disillusioned captain Cesc may provide some of the funds required, he has been a lesser force this year in any respect.

Spurs, 'B-'
Very tempting to give them a 'C' due to all their ludicrous talk of making a credible title challenge this season but they receive an extra notch for an entertaining but ultimately fruitless Champions League campaign. Spurs will now find they have hit a glass ceiling and their chances of returning to the top four next season look bleak yet again. Reinforcements at centre back and in the striking department look paramount and it is time that Wenger became not the only manager in North London to be criticised for his goalkeeping choices. Spurs will not achieve anything with Gomes in goal. A tough Summer will ensue with targets to identify as well as the likes of Bale and Modric to be kept.

Liverpool, 'C-'
More accurately a E for Hodgson and a B- (so far) for Dalglish. A season spent mainly in mid table for this once great club is however wholly unacceptable and they remain a million miles away from their neighbours in red who have now surpassed their title haul. This Summer will prove or otherwise the commitment of their new American owners and Dalglish's work will be properly assessed after a full season in charge. A return to the top four will be their minimum target next year.

Everton, 'C+'
Another uneventful season for the Toffees. One could assume that if David Moyes could somehow get his team to win the occasional match before Christmas then they could make a credible challenge for higher places but the reality is they have a threadbare squad - with some admitted quality - that will struggle to regularly trouble the top six. More ambition is required from the board.

Fulham, 'B'
Losing Roy Hodgson to Liverpool and trying to follow up the previous years' exploits of their superb run to the Europa League final was meant to be a bridge too far for Fulham. Mark Hughes looking to rebuild his reputation after his sacking from Manchester City endured a sticky start and things did not look good for the men from Craven Cottage. A rock solid second half to the season however has seen Fulham steadily climb the table with a respectable points total. A solid return to football from Sparky.

Aston Villa, 'D'
Awful season for the team from the second city. Having hit their own glass ceiling of sixth place for a couple of seasons, the parting of the ways with Martin O'Neil saw the Villans plunged into relegation trouble for much of the season before pulling themselves clear after the illness to Gerrard Houllier. Despite a seemingly decent chairman in Learner, the club's ambition and direction are both in question and another season of mediocrity would seem to be all their long suffering fans can hope for.

Sunderland, 'C'
Steve Bruce continues to flatter to deceive as a manager, yet another 'big club' who flirted briefly with relegation woes after a truly awful run of form after a promising start. A replacement for Darren Bent is required should the club wish to stay away from the bottom of the table next season.

West Brom, 'B-'
This blog was highly critical of the decision to sack Roberto Di Matteo and the 'hire them fire them' policy of Premiership clubs remains an issue. That being said however the pick up in results since Hodgson was brought in to keep the club in the Premiership is without question with the relative affluence of mid table being achieved.

Newcastle United 'B'
Despite the stupidity of Ashley's decision to sack the up and coming Chris Hughton and replace him with his crony Alan Pardew, the Toon shook off pre season predictions of a relegation battle and achieved the minimum of Premiership stability. One or two good signings and the use of the Andy Carroll money could see Newcastle pushing on next season although the quality of the manager and the board remains a huge issue.

Stoke City, 'A-'
Fabulous season for the Potters, a very safe mid table finish, a trip to the Cup Final and European football next season is a wonderful return for a club with this level of resources. It is a shame that they came up short in the cup final but it was no disgrace to lose to a vastly superior City side. The reality for Stoke however is this is probably as good as it gets and one would hope that they don't fall into the trap that the likes of Charlton did in the past allowing a manager who has worked wonders for them to leave trying to pursue further glories that are simply unobtainable in modern day football.

Bolton Wanderers, 'B+'
Owen Coyle has further enhanced his reputation with a solid finish in the league table and some good football being played in the process. Only their semi final hammering at Wembley at the hands of Stoke City slightly tarnished what was an otherwise excellent season.

Blackburn, 'D'
Rank stupidity from the people at Venkys oversaw the firing of the highly capable Sam Allardyce, the appointment of a novice manager and the distracting nonsense of transfer talk regarding Beckham and Ronaldinho. Theirs is an exercise in how not to run a football club summed up by their forcing of Keen to attend the monthly (lack of) progress meeting in Pune this past week despite the need to prepare the players for the final day. One fears for the club in both the short and medium term despite their final day survival.

Wigan, 'B-'
A nail biting finish to the season but safety was duly delivered. Martinez continues to stick to his principles and Dave Whelan must be applauded for his determination to stand by his man (Chelsea take note). Next year will be a struggle again but they continue to punch well above their weight.

Wolves, 'C+'
Again, survival was only achieved on the final day but they are still in the division and that is all that counts. Wolverhampton will again struggle next season but it is nice to see Mick McCarthy finally achieving something in the top flight, he has worked hard for it.

Birmingham City, 'E'
Hard to award an 'E' when they won a trophy but it is an irrelevance in the grand scheme of things now that they will be playing in the Championship next season. McLeish must shoulder much of the blame but it is clear that the board and owner has done little to support someone who is 'not their man' and a parting of the ways this Summer must be inevitable.

Blackpool, 'C'
Had they stayed up they would have been awarded the third 'A' in the class but alas they fell short as predicted by this blog. The Premiership was a brighter place for their presence with Holloway and his players giving their all in every match. A squad that in reality was only really good enough for the Championship at best meant relegation was expected but they should be applauded for pushing it so far. It looks likely that their squad will disintegrate this Summer and staying in the Championship next season may even be a tall order now the momentum has gone. A very cruel end to the season for this brave team.

West Ham United, 'E'
One of the poorest efforts in the Premiership in living memory. The capitulation at Wigan last weekend summed up their season. Whilst holding nothing against West Ham nor their fans, it is hard to shed a tear for Gold, Sullivan and Brady - the bad, the bad and the ugly in that order - who's arrogance and false swagger is so distasteful to all. The decision to sack Zola was questionable but understandable but the choice of Grant was a poor one and the board must take full responsibility for the club's relegation. Terence Brown doesn't seem so bad now.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Blonde Bombshell Retires

Friday night's Rajasthan Royals fixture finally brought down the curtain on the cricket career of Mr S.K. Warne. In true Warne style the final week saw off field controversy leading to a fine and on the pitch he took a wicket in his final over. He went out as he came in, at the centre of everything.

To those of a British background, Shane Warne came to instant fame with the ball of the century at Old Trafford in 1993. He had featured in eleven tests already for Australia but with his first ball in his first test against England he shot to international super stardom with a ripping leg spinner that beat a bemused Mike Gatting all ends up, Gatting's face and shrug of disbelief as he walked back to the pavilion will live forever in the memory . It is a sporting moment that seems to get better every time you watch it, being armed with the knowledge of what is coming next seemingly making it all the more incredible.

For all the moments of individual brilliance in Warne's career it is his craft over so many years and his cricketing brain that mark this most amazing of talents. His ability to produce magic on non spinning pitches, to out think batsmen and grind out wickets whilst not giving away runs was without compare in the world of spin. His and the bowling of the relentless Glenn McGrath were the single biggest reason for Australia's period of utter dominance for all the talent of their batting department. Even after shoulder surgery deprived him of the effectiveness of his flipper and wrong 'un, Warne's art in the variance of drift, pace, flight and spin made him entirely peerless.

Warne was a player that could transcend team loyalties, he was appreciated in England or India as much as he was revered in Australia. For all the Barmy Army's chants about what ten men did with him, they loved to watch Warne even if they were mainly on the receiving end of his brilliance. The way he played the game made him a target for opposition fans but it was done with good humour on the whole, he never riled people in the same way that Ponting, McGrath or Hayden did. He played the game hard and to the limit but he did it with panache and his penchant for brilliance that no other could produce bought him many credits in any event. Even some of his personal targeting (at times very unfairly) in the media of players such as Ian Bell seemed to be done in a way that didn't irk in the same way that Glenn McGrath managed to.

Warne's influence within cricket was not just limited to his leg spinners, he was no mean bat and was a superb slip fielder but it is his appreciation of the tactical side of cricket and of player development that sets him apart again as a true great. Warne's contribution to Hampshire during his time there for instance was huge, not just in terms of wickets but in his work with the younger players and his changing of the entire mentality at the club.

Watching Warne in test cricket for the final time at Melbourne in 2007, I likened the privilege of watching him play to that of watching a Diego Maradona or an Ayrton Senna in the flesh. Warne was far from perfect off the pitch with a catalogue of misdemeanours and misjudgements chequering his career, the worst of which being his missing a World Cup for a failed drug test, whatever the involvement of his mother actually was.

Like Maradona however, it was this imperfection that went hand in hand with the genius. He could do things that no other could dream of yet at the same time he proved himself as fallible as anybody else. Warne was many things but boring he was not. Even in his last days in the IPL, many would have paid to watch Warne rather than many of the current test players.

It is also this imperfection that possibly robbed Australia of a great test captain. Warne's tactical nous in the field is without doubt, he provides excellent, innovative and thoughtful commentary on the game, constantly thinking how to out fox batsmen. As was discussed on this blog prior, Ricky Ponting was one of the great batsmen of his generation but there has to be a suspicion that had Warne been in charge in 2005 rather than Ponting then with or without McGrath standing on a ball, the Ashes would not have come home.

There will be many that will argue that Murali was the better bowler, that his statistics - many against lesser test teams however - bare this out and it is possible that the art of leg spin is over romanticised versus it's finger counterpart. Having said that, Warne seemed to give so much more to the game than just wickets and if this blog could be a test cricketer, then it would be a leg spinner and it would be Shane Warne - No Nonsense.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Premiership - The Title Decider

Old Trafford on Sunday is being billed as the title decider but in reality it is only the case if ManYoo were to triumph and there must be a strong suspicion that they will or at least get the draw that they would almost certainly settle for given their last two remaining fixtures. The point about Blackburn and Blackpool both fighting against relegation is well made but it does not alter the fact they are two incredibly poor Premiership teams.

Manchester United have two aces up their sleeves, Old Trafford and their indefatigable manager Sir Alex Ferguson who even with his phenomenal staying power must be sorely tempted to end on a high should they win the league and do the seemingly impossible by beating Pep Guardiola's Barca at Wembley, it would be a fitting end after all. Manchester United have won 27 of their last 30 games at Old Trafford with the other 3 drawn, it is an impressive record.

Chelsea have the momentum however it would seem after ManYoo's defeat at the Emirates with 25 points from 29 games. The question that remains is whether the steam roller is in full working order and whether it will actually be used. The January window was an odd one for Chelsea, the large twin signing of the superb David Luiz and the much coveted Fernando Torres signalled fresh enthusiasm from their owner and gave the team a much needed shot in the arm. The on pitch effect however have not been as hoped as whilst Luiz has been excellent, Torres has struggled to fit in and his presence has disrupted the balance within the team, it will be next season and possibly without Didier Drogba that Chelsea will see the best of Torres.

Ferguson will go in to tomorrow's match with a firm XI decided, as the season has progressed it has seemed more apparent that he has formed a clear picture in his mind of his strongest team and his selection against Schalke midweek gives a clear indication as to the majority of the starting XI. For Ancelotti however, both the personnel and the formation he will employ them in remain the subject of doubt due to the presence of Torres and the pressure to play a man who cost the owner 50M.

It is a little harsh possibly to call Abramovich a hire them and fire them owner. Ranieri was not his appointment and it is not unusual for new owners to bring in their own men. Mourinho engineered an exit for himself, Grant was simply employed to ensure continuity that season but was never a long term option and Scolari was a mistake whom the players ultimately revolted against. Chelsea tried and failed to keep Hiddink and Ancelotti remains in charge with no statements otherwise yet from the club. Nevertheless Ancelotti knows the pressure is on if he wishes to keep his job. Should he pick Drogba ahead of Torres and not get the victory he so desperately requires then he may well be heading back to Italy this summer.

There must be a suspicion that Ancelotti knows that the best thing to do for Chelsea's rhythm this Sunday is to employ the tried and tested with Drogba flanked by Malouda and the supposedly inferior Salomon Kalou. The question will be that with his presumed desire to stay at the club whether Ancelotti will do what gives him the best chance of winning or do what the believes the owner wants him to do.

Much will depend on how confident Ancelotti feels ahead of the match, given his record as both a player and a manager one would expect him to feel confident going into such matches and therefore if he thinks Chelsea will win and will do so by picking Drogba then he would be vindicated, pick him and fail however and the axe may be ready to fall.

Should Chelsea fail to win, the title is almost certainly going to Old Trafford for a record nineteenth time. If they do however then the prospect of a nail biting finish down to the last day and possibly down to goal difference is a very real possibility - No Nonsense.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Premiership Weekend in Review

We're at the business end of the season now and whilst some matters are starting to appear more clear, others remain as uncertain as before.

At the top, Chelsea were somewhat fortunate to beat Spurs but nevertheless they gained three points. Arsenal managed to finally win a big one - albeit too late for themselves - and deserved to do so as ManYoo should have been both a goal and a man down had the penalty for Vidic's handball been given. Chelsea now go to Old Trafford next weekend with real hope of wrestling back the league lead. That being said ManYoo's final two games look very winnable by goalscoring margins and goal difference could decide the titlle were Chelsea to win next weekend. Next Sunday has a draw written all over it however and we still pick ManYoo to lift their nineteenth title.

As a foot note to ManYoo, they were truly awful against a Cesc'less Arsenal last night. They will be the poorest Champions in many a year - the points total will prove that - should they win and had Chelsea not removed their collective brains for much of the Winter they should have cruised to the title. That being said they did not and on that basis ManYoo will deserve it if they do indeed triumph. One would fear for the scoreline however at Wembley should they play like that against Barcelona.

Spurs now look to have moved from a race for 4th to a race to 5th against Dalglish's rejuvenated Liverpool. With trips to the City of Manchester Stadium and Anfield still to come they may have Thursday nights off next season in addition to Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Carling Cup anyone?

For the clubs above the 40 point mark their seasons look to be winding down now but at the bottom the riddles have still not been solved. West Ham endured another defeat with what was an admittedly tough fixture at Champions League chasing City. Their next game at home to Blackburn is now a must win. Their following games away to Wigan and home to Sunderland should also both be winnable but it remains to be seen whether the team has the required character. Their position remains highly perilous.

Wolves are now without a win in their last 5 matches but with home fixtures against West Brom and Blackburn still to come they are not without hope. Wigan have winnable games but two are away from home. Blackpool also look in real trouble with visits to White Hart Lane and Old Trafford on the final day sandwiching a home game against Bolton. Blackburn and Birmingham are not out of it but they have points on the board and that is the hard currency required. It now looks like three from West Ham, Wolves, Wigan and Blackpool - No Nonsense

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Harry Redknapp

Good ol' 'arry, everyone's favourite East End wheeler dealer spiv. A cross between Del Boy, Arthur Daley and according to many, Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa and Bill Shankly, what an incredible human being and football manager he must be - except he's not.

The reason for this blog is not Spurs' latest defeat at Stamford Bridge - that's hardly worthy of news - but in response to the constant nonsense issued with regard to someone who is a decidedly average manager and whilst not wishing to getting into any legal territory, a businessman of dubious integrity.

The more one reads and takes an interest in the English football press the more one can come to the conclusion that it is huge example of a slightly less posh jobs for the boys. The press that certain managers enjoy beggars belief whilst others (and it is not just the foreign managers as there is an equal measure of belief in the press that anyone from Italy or Spain has a magic wand) are pilloried for anything that isn't a 5-0 away win.

There is little doubt that the Sky style of coverage and the 24 hour saturation broadcasting that goes with it has encouraged the development of an ex players and out of work's managers club. The Premiership is broadcast the World over and the sheer number of ex players and ex managers blazing the pundit trail ensures many of them will receive little bad press regardless of any future failures back in the real world of football itself.

Amongst this incestuous media mix, certain managers have raised themselves above the masses by their managerial records and/or by their charisma and skill at dealing with the media. Ferguson and Wenger receive praise and criticism in equal measure - and seem not to care a jot regardless - others like Mourinho care not a hoot what is written about him, as long as the scribes are doing just that.

There are those like Holloway and Keegan that are too honest for their own good and others such as Warnock are popular because they are simply obnoxious. Benitez was one of the most interesting as with the exception of forty five minutes in Istanbul he was an utter failure and was prickly at best with the press yet despite that he enjoyed good coverage and remained very popular with the Liverpool fans also, clearly an intelligent man.

And then we have Harry Redknapp, unique except for that other cheeky chappy that is Terry Venables. The parallels between the two are various, both have a similar demeanour, both are Spurs managers, one has managed England and one is about to and their dalliances in the world of finance are controversial to say the least. They do differ in that Redknapp would not get through an X Factor audition but where they are most definitely the same is in receiving swathes of fantastic press whilst having a decidedly average managerial record.

Portsmouth's FA Cup victory is a prime example. Whilst a club of this stature winning a trophy should be applauded, the level of hyperbole enjoyed by 'arry is nonsensical. With the exception of a fine sixth round win at ManYoo they had to put to the sword en route, Ipswich Town, Plymouth Argyle, Preston NE, West Brom and then the might of Cardiff City in the final. Each and everyone of those teams was playing in the Championship that season yet Redknapp is hailed as some kind of tactical genius.

Nor whilst Redknapp was at Portsmouth were they a team of paupers. Redknapp is regularly touted as a master wheeler dealer with an eye for a bargain, unquestionably he has made fine acquisitions such as Paolo Di Canio at West Ham. Whilst at Portsmouth, David James (1.2M), Lassana Diarra (2M) and Nico Kranjcar (3M) proved sound business but when you sign as many players as he does even an utter novice would hit the dartboard a few times. Who could forget the masterstroke of Marco Boogers back in the bad old days at West Ham?

Whilst at Portsmouth, large fees (certainly for a club of their stature) were paid for Sully Muntari (7.1M), Peter Crouch (estimated upto 11M), Jermain Defoe (6M), Glenn Johnson (4M), David Nugent (7M and an utter turkey), John Utaka (7M) to name a few, it was both a good and large squad and by no means all the transfers were poor ones. The point is that Portsmouth at that juncture should not have been seen as some provincial club, they were a strong and expensively assembled - with a wage bill that ultimately crippled the club - football team, a reasonable amount of success should have been expected. Instead the press and Redknapp will have you believe it was some kind of fairytale, what nonsense and as all who read this blog know, there should be none.

If we're consistent then it is unfair to blame Portsmouth's financial implosion on Redknapp as we just yesterday said that Wenger should not be concerned with the Arsenal finances, that is the job of the board in the same way that Risdale was at fault for not saying no to O'Leary and David Murray likewise with Walter Smith and Dick Advocaat in the 1990s. That being said Redknapp's relationship and dynamic with both Milan Mandaric and Alexandre Gaydamak seemed more far reaching than most and it is hard to believe he was not entirely sure of what was really going on. It is also oft forgotten and little reported that Redknapp got Southampton relegated in between his two Portsmouth stints.

Redknapp duly abandoned Porstmouth in October 2008 and took over a vastly under performing Spurs side. It was the perfect job and to be honest one he would have been foolish not to take. Whilst enduring an appalling start and being bottom of the table it is hard to think that Spurs were truly in real relegation danger, they simply need a competent manager (which Redknapp is) and a kick up the back side. In addition to Redknapp's wizardry was the injection in January 2009 of Jermain Defoe, (15M this time around), Robbie Keane (12M), Wilson Palacios (12M) as well as Carlo Cudicini and the return of Pascal Chimbonda. Most Sunday morning managers would have had little problem keeping that team in the Premiership.

None of this is to say that Redknapp is not a decent manager, he generally does a decent job and has a deserved reputation for sides that play attacking football for which he should be applauded. Where this all becomes a nonsense however is when the 'Harry for England' brigade fire up their engines.

Spurs have done quite well the past couple of seasons but that is only in respect to the vast underachievement of one England's most celebrated clubs. With the squad that Redknapp has - players such as Modric, Van Der Vaart and Bale could walk into any squad in the World - however he should be achieving success. Redknapp again has played up the whole David versus Goliath myth when they have met AC, Internazionale and Real Madrid in the Champions League this season. Whilst you would have made Spurs slight underdogs against each of those three, they are hardly unable to sit at the same table.

At the very highest level, Redknapp looks short tactically. Spurs enjoyed a fine and resilient win over too legs against AC Milan and he should be applauded for that. There have however been a plethora of tactical disasters for Redknapp in big games. In the San Siro in the Autumn, Spurs were 4-0 down to Inter at half time and it could have been 8. The individual brilliance of Bale in the second half nearly producing a freak result should not distract from the tactical ineptitude. In the Bernabeau, Spurs were mauled yet again, simply not equipped to cope with what Real threw at them. If you look at the Spurs squad and the money spent on it, you would have to question why not. Sendings off can be blamed but again, the manager should be able to brief the players properly beforehand and if they show poor character then the buck must stop with him for signing them in the first place.

Against Arsenal, Redknapp has consistently found himself behind in matches and whilst he and Spurs should be commended for their stirring fight backs, the people hailing him as England's saviour should realise that if you go two or three goals down against a Germany or an Italy you will not find them as brittle as a side managed by Arsene Wenger, he will be cannon fodder for the top International coaches. If he is to become England manager will he continue his tact of claiming his side are inferior, that he is undoubtedly down to the bare bones at almost any given time? This will not sit well with a nation that expects (wrongly) World Cup semi finals as a minimum requirement.

Harry Redknapp is a decent enough manager but he brings controversy with him in the shape of his other dealings, something that ultimately meant Venables parting company with the FA, it hardly looks a marriage made in heaven. Venables also inherited a fine England side with the likes of Ince, Shearer, Sheringham and Adams at their peaks and the mercurial Gascgoine enjoying his finest post injury months for the England team. Redknapp would be taking charge of an England team pinning their hopes on Wayne Rooney. The likes of Gerrard, Lampard, Ferdinand, Terry and Ashley Cole are all past their peak and with the exception of Jack Wilshire, the replacements so far look grossly inadequate, Redknapp will not be able to whip out the chequebook come January if it starts to go wrong. It remains to be seen whether the knives in the press will remain sheathed should Redknapp duly receive his coronation as England manager  - No Nonsense.