It’ll end in tears at England, ’Arry
For the past 30 years, whenever a new Tottenham manager has been appointed, I have sent him a copy of The Glory Game, a book I did about a year in the life of the club. I like to think I am drawing their attention to a little bit of Tottingham history, about which they should know. But really it's because I'm a creep.
Let me see, good gracious, there have been 17 managers during that time. In 1974, after Bill Nicholson, came Neill, Burkinshaw, Shreeves, Pleat, Venables, Shreeves again, Livermore, Ardiles, Francis, Gross, Graham, Hoddle, Santini, Jol, Ramos and then from 2008, the one and only let's hear it, 'Arry.
They made phone calls to acknowledge receipt, or wrote thank-you letters, which I have carefully filed away. David Pleat was particularly fulsome and literate in his handwritten reply. Even George Graham, with his Arsenal history, wrote nicely.
The only person who did not acknowledge my wonderful gift was Harry. Held it against him ever since, despite loving him dearly as a person.
His press conferences have always been a joy, either a stream of consciousness, nothing to do with the game, or streetwise rejoinders. I have never heard him being personally nasty, unlike Fergie, even when asked an idiot question.
I remember one conference where he was being criticised for some substitution that had not come off. Instead of turning on the hack, he asked what he would have done. "And who would you have had to take the penalty? Presumably you saw it coming that the ref would leave his glasses as home? And I suppose you could predict that your best striker, five yards out ,would suddenly think of his missus in her best Sunday finery, sitting in the passenger seat of his Baby Bentley, would balloon it over the bar instead of burying it?"
Now, thanks to his trial, I know why he never replied. He admitted in court he has a reading and writing age of a two-year-old.
A book wouldn't have been much use to him, except he could have thrown it around the dressing room after Darren Bent had ballooned another sitter.
Most experts, and we are all football experts today, assume he will take the England job in May, if offered. And I am sure he fancies it. He's 64, had 30 years of club management.
Nothing can be as stressful as all those years with the trial hanging over him. And all those years travelling every day from his Bournemouth home to training in North London. No wonder he has had heart problems. Managing England, physically, is a doddle, as his wife will agree.
Even when Sven went to matches, he used to leave well before the end, for another engagement, nudge nudge. Capello, in all his years, only managed once to get to the north-east to watch a game. Basically, managing England is a part-time job.
Harry never played for England, which I am sure was a regret. He was not a star player, even in his West Ham days. In fact I can't remember him, yet I did see Spurs play West Ham many times, during the years he was there, 1965-72. A useful winger, so the older West Ham fans allege, but he left no impression on me.
So he'll want to manage his country, make his cockney bantam chest swell with pride. He'll do no worse than anyone else these past 46 years. He'll get the blame when our useless players give the usual shit performance in a major tournament. Not the Euros, that won't be his fault. But the next World Cup.
Four years max I give him with England - and it will end in tears. It is never officially for football reasons. It's either sex scandals, which forced Bobby Robson out. Financial problems, like Venables. Being politically incorrect, like Hoddle. Or slagging off the FA, like Capello.
So what will do it for Harry ? He seems to have a steady marriage, so unless he jumps on an FA secretary he should be safe. Or come out as gay? That might even help, as they couldn't sack him for it.
He is too cute to shoot his mouth off and upset the blazers. It might well be financial, something else from his past which comes back to haunt him.
Meanwhile, we will certainly all enjoy the ride . . .
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