Saturday 24 March 2018

Arsenal would win the Premier League if Arsene Wenger had Harry Redknapp's tactical nous, says Paul Merson

Paul Merson thinks there is one thing holding Arsene Wenger back from leading Arsenal to Premier League glory – he doesn’t have the tactical nous of Harry Redknapp.

Merson played under both men during his playing career, but believes the English manager is a far more accomplished tactician than Wenger.

“People say he's a wheeler-dealer and it's so disrespectful,” Merson says in an episode of Sky One's panel show A League Of Their Own.

“Tactically, he's one of the best I've worked with. If Arsene Wenger had Harry Redknapp's tactical nous, Arsenal would win the league.”

And Merson pointed to one particular match at Portsmouth as evidence of Redknapp’s understated tactical genius.

“We won our first game of the season at home and I thought we'd be alright and then went to Crystal Palace. We were 2-0 down at half-time and it could've been 10-0. I thought 'what have I done coming here - this is going to be embarrassing.'

“Harry came in at half-time and took three men off, put three at the back, five in midfield with three rolling attackers and we won 3-2.

“That's when I knew he was a great manager.”

Meanwhile, Welsh League Division Three team Caerau have received international clearance to play Merson, who is attempting to make an unlikely comeback to football at the age of 49.

Caerau secretary Dai Hooper confirmed that all the required paperwork had now come through which will make Merson available for the home match against Pontyclun on October 18.

Merson, who won 21 England caps, was part of the Arsenal team which won the First Division championship in both 1988/89 and 1990/91 as well as the 1993 FA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup in 1994.

He left Highbury for Middlesbrough in 1997 and also had spells with Aston Villa, Portsmouth and Walsall, going on to manage the Saddlers between 2004 and 2006 before taking up a role as a media pundit for Sky Sports.

Hooper hopes the presence of Merson, whom he got to know after they met at a function, can help raise the profile of the Maesteg-based side.

“The international clearance has just come through this morning,” Hooper said.

“I tried to text Paul this morning, but he was busy at work. I have spoken to him and he is over the moon.

“Paul said he is having a little run out in a friendly game for someone to get himself a bit of fitness and is really looking forward to it.”

Hooper added: “We are a very small club moving forward, but we have got some marvellous things happening.

“Our chairman Steve Williams has been really working hard to raise funds for a new 4G pitch, stand and academy for the kids, so I am hopeful with the help of people like Paul, we can raise the profile a lot.”

Independent News Service

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