Spurs looked jaded but Redknapp still in England pole
When Tottenham were thrashing Newcastle United in February White Hart Lane - and it seemed most of the country - was awash with love for Harry Redknapp.
Fabio Capello had quit as England coach, Redknapp had emerged as "The People's Choice" and Spurs fans were beside themselves with affection for their manager as they pleaded with him to keep out of the Football Association's clutches during a 5-0 win that was a riot of dazzling, attacking football.
How times change. Fast forward to Saturday evening and a 1-0 defeat at QPR and Redknapp was wrestling with the prospect of a season in meltdown as well as listening to Spurs supporters loudly questioning his tactical know-how.
And, to add an extra layer of irony, the manager in the opposite dug-out to Redknapp that night in February was applying his own pressure as Alan Pardew's Newcastle removed Spurs from the Premier League's top four for the first time since November with a 3-0 win against Stoke City.
Redknapp has won just two of 10 Premier League games since Capello left the England role. Photo: AP
If, as has been suggested, the Football Association is holding back an official approach to make Redknapp the next England manager for fear of disrupting Tottenham's season, then it need delay no longer.
Their season is now well and truly disrupted to the point where a top three finish and automatic qualification for next season's Champions League is in danger of being watered down to a place in the Europa League.
If, as most of us reasonably assume, Redknapp is the FA's chosen one a call from Wembley to White Hart Lane as early as this week is highly unlikely to throw Spurs' season any more off course than it already is.
Since Capello quit as England coach Spurs have won only two of 10 Premier League games, the latest being a jaded effort in defeat against a fiercely-resilient and organised QPR.
In reality, this is nothing more than pure coincidence rather than as a result of Redknapp's name being attached to England's vacancy. The mind of the modern footballer can move from one manager to another in a matter of minutes so it is unlikely the Spurs squad have become so distracted by speculation that their season is in danger of ending in serious anti-climax.
Redknapp himself dismisses the notion as fanciful - and for all the recent poor form he is still in pole position to take over from Capello on the basis of a long-term body of work rather than two bad months.
He has shown the capacity to work with, and get the best out of, high-profile personalities through skilful man-management honed over an entire career as well as displaying a commitment to attractive football.
Spurs fans chanted against Redknapp's tactics after Gareth Bale was switched to the right wing. Photo: PA
What is beyond dispute, however, is that Spurs have taken a nasty turn for the worse since the very moment their stock, and that of their manager, was at its highest as Newcastle were dismantled.
And Redknapp may even have heard doubts about his own approach being vociferously aired by the travelling Spurs support as he made adjustments in search of an equaliser in the second half.
As Gareth Bale and substitute Aaron Lennon switched positions, those supporters made their discontent clear with the alternate chanting of "Gareth Bale - He Plays On The Left" followed by "Aaron Lennon - He Plays On The Right."
Redknapp has enough credit in the bank with his work at White Hart Lane to ride out that piece of tactical analysis and advice, but there is little doubt those supporters felt they were making a serious point about some of the reasons behind Spurs' recent slide.
To make matters worse, the loss at QPR was the result of a moment of creation from the former Spurs maverick Adel Taarabt, the player once described as "a bit of a fruitcake" by Redknapp - a theory borne out by the manner in which this gifted midfield man mixes a cocktail of magic and madness in his game.
He won the game for QPR with a curved first-half free-kick then left them to battle with 10 men for the last 12 minutes after earning a second yellow card from referee Mark Clattenburg for kicking the ball away.
Redknapp was in relatively relaxed mood in his post-match briefing, talking up Spurs' performance and expressing confidence that the Champions League goal can be achieved.
This was, however, a display lacking the rhythm, balance, zip and threat that made Spurs such a joy to watch earlier in the season.
England is a smokescreen that neither Redknapp or his players have hidden behind. The reasons for their troubles appear to be more basic. Spurs have run out of steam and now have only four games to regain their momentum.
For all the possession Spurs had, and there was lots of it, there was a lack of purpose and pace when they had the ball. This was a team that, for now at least, looks slow and tired and the polar opposite of the exciting spectacle they presented a few months ago.
Luka Modric was on the margins, Gareth Bale did his best - even showing the urgency to leap into the QPR fans to retrieve the ball at one stage - but the fire has been extinguished for Spurs. And it has been snuffed out at the worst possible time. Redknapp must hope this is a temporary state of affairs.
True, they did not enjoy the bounce of the ball. For all his fine saves, QPR goalkeeper Paddy Kenny did not hold much and little or nothing fell for Spurs in the way of rebounds.
Redknapp bemoaned a lack of cover in central defence and in attack. Emmanuel Adebayor was ruled out with a hamstring injury and the gifted but fragile Louis Saha failed a fitness test on a groin injury - always the risk when signing him on a free transfer from Everton.
One of Redknapp's strengths, one that will presumably appeal to the FA when they finally make their move, is his power of positive thinking and he will need it all if a season of so much promise is not to end in bitter disappointment.