a familiar face

You know that feeling you get when you see a former significant other for the first time in a while? All those old feelings of familiarity come rushing back to the surface: memories of the good times, the fun you had together, and the special occasions you got to experience together.

QPR manager Harry Redknapp
it’s been a while since we’ve seen redknapp’s wrinkly mug.

But just as quickly as the warm, fuzzy thoughts start to invade your brain, the bad memories come flooding back too: the hurt, the pain and the sadness. And it’s then that you remember why you went your separate ways. The bad clearly outweighed the good.

It was those exact feelings that were surging through me as I saw Harry Redknapp sitting in the visiting director’s box at Old Trafford yesterday. A typically emotionless ‘Arry watched the side he had agreed to take over only hours before surrender a second half lead and eventually lose to an under-performing Manchester United side.

In a week where Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich riduculously fired Roberto Di Matteo and replaced him with former Liverpool manager Rafa Benítez, Redknapp’s QPR appointment was never going to be anywhere near the most high-profile managers appointment. But the emotions tied up in seeing Redknapp back to work was just too much to ignore.

Seeing him spurned flashbacks to some of my most fond Spurs moments of the last four years. The resurrection from Ramos’ ruinous start. Beating City to clinch a Champions League birth. Two magical nights in Milan. Even an expletive-laden newsreel outburst can be fondly looked back upon.

But as special as all of those treasured memories are, there’s a lot that I need to remember before I get all sentimental.

‘Arry must have had an aversion to making substitutions before the 85th minute of a match. His reluctance to rotate the squad and keep players fresh, not to mention a lack of tactical awareness. What about his tax evasion trial, a major distraction for the squad during the early winter months of last season? And of course, let’s not forget his complete lack of commitment to Spurs and losing focus on the job at hand at the end of the campaign.

QPR defense beat by Chicharito
the QPR defense desperately needs reinforcing in january. but will have harry have money available to spend to do so?

So when Daniel Levy rightly dismissed Redknapp at the end of last season, I was trumpeting the idea as a good one. But like every break up where there were plenty of good times, his departure was bittersweet.

Had you told me, Harry or anyone else six months ago that he would be taking over the reigns at Loftus Road, we all probably would have dragged you off to the loony bin. The England job seemed the most likely outcome, but staying on at White Hart Lane was a close second. But QPR? That seemed about as realistic as him taking over my Sunday league side.

Whether Redknapp has it in him to turn yet another side around, I’m not quite sure. This isn’t a situation like the dysfunctional-yet-talented Tottenham side that Harry took over four years ago. This is a QPR side that lacks a single solid defender, which spent lavishly on midfielders and strikers without a playing style in mind, and a disillusioned fan base. They’re the only winless side left in the Premier League, and confidence is hovering somewhere around zero. It’s a tall ask, even for someone of Harry’s pedigree. And Rangers’ fans better just hope a better job doesn’t open up while he’s in their hot seat, as history tells us he’ll bolt.

So just like that chance encounter with your ex, when your eyes eventually catch theirs, you give them a small, knowing smile from across the room — maybe even a small wave of acknowledgement. And then you thank you’re lucky stars that you’re not the stuck with them anymore. Just like I do with old ‘Arry.

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