Firstly, on a personal level, I have never been anti-Sam and would have been more than happy to give him another season but it looks as though, with fan resentment at its highest since he took the job back in 2011, his position may have become untenable. Therefore, with the 78% who voted Allardyce out in the recent mass poll in mind, I’ve started to look at alternatives.
There have been countless cases of terrible managerial swaps in recent years. Too many of the more unfashionable managers doing solid jobs have been switched with suit and tie, foreign coaches promising Barcelona-esque football who have failed miserably.
Fulham, Cardiff City and West Bromwich Albion, for example, all went down this route and ended the season making up three of the Premier League’s bottom four. West Ham are in a very similar situation. People will look to Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton as a success story but the Saints are in for a tough summer in terms of transfer business and I think the Argentine could well come unstuck next season.
Even if Pochettino does continue his success, his appointment was a roll of the dice by a very financially stable club with a settled squad. With the much discussed Olympic Stadium move beckoning, West Ham are in no such position and must play it safer.
‘Premier League Manager of the Year’ Tony Pulis was undeniably the best managerial appointment in the previous campaign and unsurprisingly he is a tried and trusted man at this level who plays with practicality rather than lofty ideals. Obviously he would be a sideways step from Sam but West Ham still need to learn from this triumph.
This is also a time when the Hammers should look to someone who knows the club very well. An identity crisis is nigh with regards to the stadium move and the club need someone who they can relate to their history.
The perfect candidate is thus British, experienced in the Premier League, affiliated with West Ham and obviously a promoter of attacking football given the root problem with the current regime. In one word: Redknapp.
I know there are plenty of West Ham fans who won’t want Redknapp back for whatever reason, be it the long-ago backstabbing of Billy Bonds, the more recent link to Tottenham Hotspur or just the generally crooked perception of him, but there is no one else who ticks all the boxes.
Just a few years ago Redknapp was managing in the Champions League and favourite for the England job, making him unanimously considered the best English manager. The FA eventually opted for a less volatile option but most rightfully believe Redknapp to have been avoided for media reasons and the contemporary tax evasion case rather than managerial ability. I hope David Sullivan and David Gold aren’t so deterred by his potential for controversy.
Despite his ripe age of 67-years-old, after being replaced by Andre Villas-Boas at Tottenham (another failed case of British manager swapped with a potential mini-Mourinho), Redknapp proved he still has the thirst for football as he dived straight back in, first with a brief role at Bournemouth until he rashly took the helm of the sparkling, sinking ship in the form of QPR.
QPR hasn’t gone well for Harry; his squad wasn’t hungry enough to avoid relegation and the reckless spending before he arrived has left him with a big clear-up job. I get the feeling his heart was never really in QPR, it was more an attempt to keep his foot in the door through fear of being left in the wilderness and considered an old ‘has-been’.
But surely, regardless of what becomes of QPR in the upcoming Play-Off final, his heart would be in taking his local club, where he grew up looking up to Bobby Moore, played 149 games and managed for 7 years, out of their home and into the future. It’s the perfect final project.
I appreciate Redknapp may not always have remained loyal to West Ham since his controversial firing just after the Millennium, but he is still an East End bloke from Poplar with those memories.
Crucially, Redknapp is also a combination of attacking football and pragmatism. He has always encouraged his sides to get forward and partake in exciting games, but he will also play with the cards he is dealt with rather than being too attached to a certain philosophy.
Like it or not, West Ham have invested a great amount in Andy Carroll in terms of transfer fee and his bumper contract; unlike how Liverpool did, we can not afford to get a manager like Brendan Rodgers who will sacrifice him at a massive loss because he doesn’t fit a certain system. And also, why would we want to? The majority of the West Ham faithful like Carroll, even if they don’t like Allardyce, he is at a good age and one of the best at what he does.
Redknapp will not shy away from using a target man with wingers, and may even put someone up top with the big Geordie which would satisfy the wishes of many supporters, even if it might seem a slightly outdated system.
I’m not usually a believer in ‘going back’, I’m not sure a return for Alan Pardew would work although I liked him the first time round, but Redknapp has been gone long enough and is a big enough character to deal with the potentially tricky situation.
Also, an apt bonus is that Redknapp has been working with Ravel Morrison since February and reuniting the pair at Upton Park would dramatically improve the chance of him becoming a success. Redknapp’s man-management skills have seen him get the best out of many a difficult character, most notably Paolo Di Canio, and I would suggest no one would do a better to do a job with Morrison.
So if Sam has to go, why not go all out for Redknapp? He’s a fair more suitable option than a confidence-stricken David Moyes, a still unproven Malky Mackay or a Premier League unknown Ronald Koeman.
To really get back to West Ham traditions, why not also appoint a number two to be Redknapp’s apprentice in a manner reminiscent of John Lyall under Ron Greenwood? I’m not sure who would be heir to the throne but it would be great for a younger coach to learn under Redknapp and then eventually have the opportunity to take main stage after a few years in the Olympic Stadium to give the club some real identity and stability.
Tony Fernandes would certainly drive a hard bargain but if Redknapp fancied it he’d get what he wanted by hook or by crook. He could throw it back in our face, and that would be it, the already ropey relationship between club and man would be fully severed. But if he took it I can not envisage Harry failing. The return of the devil we know is, ironically, one made in heaven.
Follow me on Twitter @RichMaher93