Redknapp’s attitude towards Europa League shows up his fear of failure

It raises once again the question over the competition’s role and importance, as well as its length.

“The young lads will get plenty of games in the Europa League because otherwise I think it’s a killer, to be frank.

“Thursday and Sunday every week… a nightmare. You’ve got no chance in the Premier League with that, it kills you off.

“We will give those boys like Jake Livermore and Andros Townsend experience and see how we go.

“We’ve loaned a few young players out but we are going to keep a few behind and give them the chance to play in the European competition.”

“You have to go to crazy places in this Europa League, all over the place – but we’ll give it our best shot whatever we do.”

There is a slight irony to Redknapp saying Spurs could end up travelling somewhere ‘crazy’ after the events of last weekend on the streets of Tottenham, but that is to miss the point.

For Redknapp, Europe is only worth it if it is the Champions League, and it is his right to do so after all, as manager of Tottenham. But is he right? Well, for a start, there is the length. The sheer number of games required to play to win the competition renders it one which most teams would like to avoid if possible. It is clearly too long. But it is long because it is open to so many teams. A wiser solution perhaps would be to bring the bigger sides into the contest later, though this would run counter to Michel Platini’s vision of giving small teams the chance to play the bigger sides in Europe.

But for Tottenham to ignore the competition’s value would be naïve. Small teams don’t win this competition. Recent winners include Porto, Atletico Madrid and Zenit St. Petersburg. Maybe they aren’t on a par with Inter Milan, Barcelona and Manchester United, but these are high quality sides. If Barcelona and Real Madrid are out in front in the world game on a tier of their own above the Inters and Uniteds, then Tottenham are a third tier side, and this is a competition that third tier teams take seriously.

Unless, that is, they’re from England and not coached by Roy Hodgson. But more damagingly, it comes across as English arrogance and is why we continually fail to make any progress when it comes to building bridges with UEFA, FIFA and other football authorities. To UEFA, this is an important competition, and for an English team, who with all respect aren’t a United or a Liverpool treating it with such contempt, it only adds to our international isolation.

Redknapp has every right to do as he wishes with his side. But part of this comes across as fear. Redknapp has an excellent record, but few trophies to show for his career. Everything he says is designed to ensure that if things go wrong, he isn’t seen as culpable. His ‘not me guvnor’ act when it comes to player wages and transfers in the wake of previous teams he’s managed going into financial difficulties cuts little ice. In this case it seems that Tottenham should be one of the favourites for the Europa League, and to fail would be Redknapp’s fault. Therefore he is opting out of the competition, to protect himself from failure. A great manager he is, and he is capable of winning the top prizes. But whereas Arsene Wenger or Sir Alex Ferguson are so scared of failure that they become bad losers when they don’t win, Redknapp is the opposite. Afraid of being seen as a bad loser, he is more concerned about protecting his reputation from being associated with failure, and for as long as he does that, his teams will come up that little bit short.