Paul Merson believes that Harry Redknapp was a better tactician than Arsene Wenger in comments that would be surprising if they came from anyone else.
Sometimes Paul Merson talks sense. Sometimes he doesn’t. In this instance, I’ll leave you to decide if the former Arsenal man, who played under both managers, is talking out of his arse or not.
“One hundred per cent, best man-manager I’ve ever worked under, by a million miles,” Merson told Sky Sports of Redknapp.
“As a man-manager knowing what you want or what you need, you could tell him what you need, he wouldn’t tell you what you needed. I think that was a massive thing with him.
“The thing with Harry, people think, ‘Oh, he’s a wheeler-dealer’… his knowledge of football is second to none.
“I honestly think he’s tactically better than Arsene Wenger, in my opinion. I worked under both.
“Tactically, if I know a manager who wants to set up, make sure we don’t lose a game and stop the other team playing… for me, Harry is the man.
“He’s with George Graham, that sort of [level]. Arsene Wenger, he had some unbelievable players.
“When you’ve got Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, [Robert] Pires, [Patrick] Vieira, [Emmanuel] Petit, [Marc] Overmars and [Freddie] Ljungberg… if I’m the manager of Arsenal, I’m opening the football match up!
“I want the game to expand, to go end-to-end because if it does, there’s only one winner. That’s Arsenal because of the players I just reeled off.”
The main problem with what Merson said is that Redknap set up to stop the other team playing while Arsene Wenger sent his team out confident in the knowledge they were good enough to win just by plying their own game, no matter the opposition.
While pragmatism crept in towards the end of his days, his problem was not that he wasn’t good at tactics, it was that he didn’t have the players he needed to execute his.
Harry Redknapp won on trophy in his managerial career – the FA Cup with Portsmouth, and the club have paid a heavy price for that win in 2008. Pompey now play in League One after their period in administration. Financial issues dogged the club following Redknapp’s sudden departure in October, 2008.
Then you have Arsene Wenger. Second in command at FIFA and manager of the Invicibles and a double double.
Hard choice, eh?