Paul Merson thinks Arsène Wenger would win the Premier League title if he had the same tactical sense as Harry Redknapp.
Merson was appearing on A League Of Their Own, and defended the recently-sacked Birmingham City manager against some of the accusations about his management style.
“People say he’s a wheeler-dealer and it’s so disrespectful. 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,” he said, reports Sky Sports.
Merson went on to give the example of one of his first matches under Redknapp, a game against 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.”
Three defenders, five midfielders and three attackers would make the formation 3-5-3, something which isn’t possible in football due to 10 outfield players being allowed.
I doubt many are going to be convinced that Redknapp is the superior tactician based on one match back in 2002, but during his initial success as a manager that was what he was often praised for.
Since then things have changed, however. Arsène Wenger has remained in charge of Arsenal for the entire decade and a half, whilst Redknapp has been hired and fired by six different clubs.
Most recently, the former Tottenham boss was sacked by Birmingham City, as they currently sit in the Championship relegation zone.
If Redknapp is the tactical master Merson claims him to be, I would’ve expected him to turn a few more of Birmingham’s games round, especially when he had the whole summer to implement his systems and style of play.
Until he shows he can adapt tactically on a consistent basis, I’ll remain unconvinced that Redknapp hasn’t just been fortunate on the occasions Merson is referring to.