Wednesday 13 November 2019

Rachel Wyse: Harry Houdini’s latest escape act hits town

Rachel Wyse

The events of February 7, 2012 will live with Harry Redknapp forever. For this was the day he was cleared of tax evasion, and within hours Fabio Capello had dramatically resigned as England head coach.

The script was written for him to walk free from court and through the doors of FA headquarters to fulfil every manager's dream – to lead his country. But within four months, Harry's game was up.

I was one hour into the evening shift on Sky Sports News the night we broke the story.

Tottenham's flying form faltered. Talk of a title challenge petered out. Roy Hodgson was appointed England head coach. Tottenham's Champions League place was taken away from them by Chelsea and there was a parting of the ways at White Hart Lane. The dream had turned into a nightmare.

He was now left with endless hours to walk Rosie the dog and the fairways of golf courses across the south coast of England. Blackburn and Ukraine tried to tempt Harry back, but he wanted a Premier League club – and his patience finally paid off.

Once again I found myself on air for another new chapter in Redknapp's career as he walked out for his first interview as the new manager of a club desperate to climb off the foot of the table.

Redknapp's return to the game this week marks the latest instalment of an incredible year and he now faces what he describes as his toughest challenge – rescuing QPR from the depths of Premier League despair.

Four points from 13 games when he officially took over last Sunday won't faze Redknapp. He's been there before. His Tottenham reign also began with them bottom of the league, with just two points from eight matches. The result: an eighth-place finish and Champions League football two seasons later.

Redknapp's great strength is his man management and ability to get players playing for him. There's no doubt that he will galvanise a squad that boasts three Champions League winners in Julio Cesar, Djibril Cisse and Ji Sung Park.

He will put an arm around the shoulder of Esteban Granero and encourage the creativity of the former Real Madrid midfielder.

He will excite the fans, give everyone a lift, open the doors of the training ground to Sky Sports News on Christmas Day (Christmas Day just wouldn't be Christmas Day without Jim White and Harry) and wind down the window of his car on almost a daily basis to update the waiting reporters on the transfer activity during January.

Harry has missed football and we have missed Harry.

One other thing's for sure – unlike the other new manager in west London – Redknapp will be given a hero's welcome at Loftus Road this afternoon. Surely this time the script will be followed – QPR will beat Aston Villa and another Harry Houdini act will be under way.

Irish Independent

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