Saturday, October 25, 2008

Juande Ramos Sacked by Spurs as Daniel Levy Moves for Harry Redknapp

A night of long knives at White Hart Lane saw Juande Ramos, Gus Poyet, Marcos Alvarez, and Damien Comolli all sacked.

The move came as a surprise late Saturday night, as Spurs face Bolton tomorrow in what was already a crunch game for the club. Spurs have had their worst start to a season since 1912 and are rock bottom with two points from eight games. Ramos was expected to have at least one more game to turn it around, but the move on Saturday comes as a shock.

Early contenders to the White Hart Lane hot seat are Harry Redknapp, Sam Allardyce, Graeme Souness, and, surprisingly, Roy Keane. The move to remove Ramos on Saturday night would suggest the Spurs chairman Daniel Levy already has someone lined up. And that would turn out to be Redknapp.

Ironically, news of Ramos' sacking comes one year to the day of Martin Jol's botched sacking. Jol has since gone on to prove how capable a manager he is by guiding Hamburg to the top of the Bundesliga.

Ramos took over at Spurs last year after a terrible run of games saw Martin Jol's position eroded as manager. Jol felt undermined by Damien Comolli and complained of Tottenham's transfer policy, where he had no say in the hiring or firing of players. This season, Ramos has also complained of similar treatment and has left big-money signings on the bench as his internal war with Comolli intensified.

When Spurs signed Ramos, he was one of the most sought after managers in European football after he had guided Sevilla to two UEFA Cup triumphs and established them as perennial Champion's League candidates in La Liga. He came to Spurs with a massive reputation, but he wouldn't be the first manager to fail at White Hart Lane.

After initially taking over, Ramos and Poyet steadied the ship and even saw Spurs win their first silverware since 1999 when they defeated Chelsea in the Carling Cup final. But it was then that Ramos seemed to lose control. Since that final, Spurs have played 21 games and only won twice.

Ramos' record looks like this: played 54, won 17. As the new season started, Ramos lost Keane, Berbatov, Robinson, Tainio, Malbranque, and Kaboul to other sides and replaced them with Bentley, Modric, Gomes, and Pavulychenko. But Ramos wasn't happy and complained bitterly about not getting his targets.

The transfers in and out also brought attention to Damien Comolli, who had allowed his three main strikers to leave and only signed Pavulychenko as replacement.

Recently, Spurs' performances have improved. Against Hull and Stoke, improvements were noticeable, but Spurs still looked like lightweights against what many regard as also-rans in the league.

The final straw came on Thursday, as Udinese thoroughly outplayed Spurs throughout the UEFA Cup tie. Spurs looked lifeless, rudderless, and leaderless. More importantly, Ramos looked shell-shocked and like he didn't know what to do. He would eventually pay the price for the worst run in the club's history with his job.

But the king is dead. Long live the king.

As soon as Ramos was sacked, Daniel Levy approached Portsmouth for Harry Redknapp's services. And after Redknapp indicated he was very interested in talking to Spurs, Portsmouth reluctantly allowed their manager to talk to the White Hart Lane outfit.

Redknapp turned Newcastle down last year, and it would seem that the lure of another "sleeping giant" was too much to turn down. This will be Harry's biggest job to date. Not only will he have to inject some life into a Spurs side that are lacklustre, but he will also be expected to bring Spurs to the next level.

Since getting into management in 1983, Redknapp has only managed four teams—Bournemouth, West Ham, Southampton, and Portsmouth (twice). Wherever he has gone, his sides always have a reputation for playing football. He also has a superb reputation in the transfer market for signing un-heralded players.

Speaking on Sky News last night, Redknapp spoke of how Portsmouth accepted £5 million in compensation for him. He also spoke of his fondness for his time as Portsmouth manager and of how Spurs was such a massive job and how he was looking forward to this new challenge.

He mentioned how Spurs need strength and aggression in the team and of how they had good players but were unbalanced. He talked of how Ramos was a great manager but didn't get any breaks. He hasn't spoken to Joe Jordan or Tony Adams at this stage, but he does not expect them to follow him to Spurs.

Redknapp wanted the challenge of managing a great club before he retired. Once Tottenham came in, it was a difficult decision for Portsmouth to make, but, ultimately, they needed money.

Ironically, Redknapp signed Jermaine Defoe from Spurs last season, and since then he has enjoyed new life.

Hopefully Redknapp will bring the same to this much-maligned Tottenham team. They're involved in a relegation dog fight, whether they admit it or not, and Harry could just be the man to bring this once great club back to where they belong.