Roker Ramble: Redknapp The Press' Choice, Not The People's
It was a moment in which you couldn't help but squirm awkwardly in your seat. At times you wanted to hide your face in your hands, only to find yourself unable to resist peeking at the television through your fingers. It could not have been more cringe worthy had Ricky Gervais provided the script and played the lead role himself.
There sits Roy Hodgson, a dignified and pensive presence, flanked by the FA's top brass, and very obviously beaming with tremendous personal pride at having reached the pinnacle of any English manager's career. An intelligent man with an incredibly diverse footballing knowledge which has been earned whilst working his way from rejection as a professional, non-league football, and teaching PE to becoming one of the most respected footballing figures on the continent.
Across the table gather the so-called cream of the nation's football press, bestowed with the privilege of picking the brains of this richly schooled footballing gentleman and sharing in his special moment... and all they want to talk about is Harry Redknapp.
Well, more specifically they want to talk about why it isn't Harry Redknapp sitting in Hodgson's seat. That's right, Harry Redknapp. The man with a solitary trophy to show for a 30-year managerial career, and he had to pretty much bankrupt a club to be able to achieve that.
It apparently wasn't enough that the press threw their names in with Redknapp. They decided to appoint themselves the voice of the nation and speak on our behalves too, proclaiming the Tottenham manager 'the people's choice'.
Well he certainly wasn't my choice, and I have yet to see any evidence at all that supports the assertion of the press that he was the people's champion. That dignified and friendly man was my choice. The nice cerebral one who has won trophies, graced major European finals, enjoyed previous success at international level, and doesn't pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to his pets whilst the club that earned him it slowly dies. The one sitting there inexplicably getting asked questions about apartheid.
In fact, I genuinely can't recall having a conversation with anyone who has ever expressed a desire to see Harry Redknapp appointed England manager. That either means that I have chosen my friends with a wisdom that belies my ever-burgeoning waistline, or that Redknapp being some kind of overwhelming popular choice for the job is little more than a myth perpetuated by sections of the press who base their words on who takes them out to dinner rather than on any kind of objective journalistic integrity.
It is difficult to see just where Harry Redknapp would have fit into the England reckoning. He certainly doesn't provide the prestigious name-value that Fabio Capello and Sven Goran-Eriksson did, although he would have provided the expense. Nor does he fit the Glenn Hoddle model of trying an up-and-coming younger coach with fresh ideas.
Roy Hodgson on the other hand, is a sensible and pragmatic choice. If we swallow our pride a little we have to accept the fact that England are not a top footballing nation as far as the International game goes. In Europe alone there are half-a-dozen or so countries you would put on another level entirely to England, and that is before you cast the net wider to include South America.
We have tried the vanity. We went out and paid fortunes to people with big CVs at big clubs. It didn't work. It is time to give sanity a try. Time to consider what situation England actually are in, as opposed to the one we wish we were, with regards international football and react to it.
Like it or not, England are the international equivalent of a mid-table club who lack the resources to stand toe-to-toe with the very best. It is organisation and a clever tactical plan to stifle far superior technical players in which a successful England future lies. That is a remit which appeals to Roy Hodgson's skill set infinitely more than that of Harry Redknapp.
Perhaps we will never know just how close Redknapp was to getting the England job. May be it was his recent court appearance or Tottenham's alarming slump that have counted against him in the end. May be he was never seriously considered for it at all. Who knows? Frankly, other than the London press, who actually cares?