England should be wary after cup semi shows up Redknapp naivety

His Tottenham team were beaten in comprehensive fashion, 5-1, by Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals, and are now in a desperate battle to cling on to the Champions League place they had looked so sure to win all season.

It is simplistic to look at results and say that they show Redknapp is not the man for the England job. His career has lasted longer than a bad two months, and every manager has these kinds of spells. But what will be concerning is how tactically naïve he has been in some games, particularly against Chelsea.

One may admire the technique and brilliance of the shot from Didier Drogba which beat Carlo Cudicini in the Tottenham goal for the opener on Sunday. But it is also pertinent to ask why Tottenham’s defence was playing such a deep line, against a 34 year old, thus meaning he was close enough to the goal to be able to get a shot in once he turned William Gallas. It was a catastrophic error from the Spurs defenders, who may not be spring chickens themselves, but you’d think would rather be racing to keep up with Drogba from closer to the half way line than their penalty area.

A second tactical error was not to focus their play through the centre more blatantly. Chelsea had fielded Ramires and Salomon Kalou to restrict the marauding runs of Benoit Assou Ekotto and Kyle Walker. The way around this would have been for Scott Parker and Luka Modric to be given the ball, to hold it and to keep possession long enough for Totteham to move up the pitch and bring Walker and Assou Ekotto into the game. Instead, Tottenham too often looked to get the ball wide to Gareth Bale or Aaron Lennon.

The next great mistake was taking of Rafael van der Vaart, who may not have played well, but at least meant Tottenham kept John Obi Mikel occupied. Without him there, behind Emmanuel Adebayor, Chelsea could afford for Mikel to join Frank Lampard in the midfield battle with Parker and Modric, and give the Blues a numerical advantage. That helped Juan Mata to get the space with which he was able to provide through balls for goals number three and five.

Then what of goal four? It is tempting to suggest Brad Friedel would have saved it, had Carlo Cudicini not been given the game by Redknapp. These tactical mistakes showed Redknapp up as naïve in a cup semi final against a relative newcomer to the role in Roberto di Matteo. Such tactical naivety could cost England dear in a major international tournament, which Redknapp has no experience of. On the other hand, a man who does, Stuart Pearce, is waiting to take charge. This is a man who knows precisely the tricks and tactical details that are required to get a team through a major tournament. Speaking after the Holland friendly earlier this year, he explained how teams at international level must slow the game down, and must keep the ball – two key traits evidenced by England against Holland, even if they lost. That is the kind of know how England need. And Redknapp does not appear to have it.