I expect a cracking match as we welcome Spurs to Old Trafford for our Carling Cup quarter-final. I said at the start of the season that Tottenham looked ready to challenge for a place in the group who qualify for the Champions League. And with Liverpool falling back, they’re in the top four and must have big smiles on their faces after destroying Wigan to the tune of 9-1.
I couldn’t believe it as I watched the Stoke v Portsmouth game and the scoreline from the Spurs match kept flashing up on the screen. First it was 1-0, then when 4-1 came I thought would be the end of it, but no, up popped 6-1. I thought that was the result because nothing more flashed up, so that when I heard a news report that the final score was 9-1, I thought there must have been a mistake and someone had written the first digit upside down!
I would imagine that the laid-back Harry Redknapp, a cool Cockney if there ever was one, must have found it difficult to hide his feelings with that one. I was at a charity dinner recently in London with Harry – a question and answer session for the League Managers Association. And it struck me at the time how our careers had taken similar twists and turns.
I have no doubt that there have been times when inside his head he has felt tortured but he never allows it to show. I suppose it is the value of experience which also stops him from panicking, and I think Tottenham are reaping the benefit now of what he has learned over the years. Incidentally, keep an eye on the LMA, which I believe is making an increasingly important contribution to the development of our game. Under Richard Bevan as chief executive and Howard Wilkinson as chairman, the association is putting forward a lot of carefully thought out proposals that we believe could benefit football.
For many years the game was run with a feudal approach that kept the managers in their place, and inevitably, fragmented us as rivals. Our voice was not heard, or if it was, it wasn’t listened to. Things have changed. There are a lot of constructive ideas coming from the LMA these days, and although it isn’t a militant organisation, it also protects the rights of managers more effectively. Too many clubs have thought they could short-change managers after they had sacked them. But with a good barrister behind us, clubs who think that delaying tactics could save them money should think again. The association has won the last seven compensation cases that it has taken to court!
But back to the game with