Friday, 7 September 2012

An instant gut reaction to Harry Redknapp's return to Bournemouth

Redknapp during his time as AFC Bournemouth
manager, many moons ago

Oh my. The most successful manager in Bournemouth's history is back at the club, in a voluntary, "advisory" role. According to the board he will assist the current managerial team and offer advice on any footballing matters.

The news has instantly gone global, with "Bournemouth" currently trending on Twitter. And, unsurprisingly, most of the people I follow on Twitter are assuming that this spells bad news for Bournemouth in the long term.

Are AFC Bournemouth - a club suddenly apparently blessed with a chunk of money for the first time in their unremarkable history - about to "do a Portsmouth"? By which I mean a brief and giddy period of unprecedented success and rampant spending swiftly followed by abject doom, poverty and quite possibly liquidation. Jumping the gun a bit? Quite possibly. But that's the instant worry I get in my gut - I obviously hope it proves to be an overreaction.

Or maybe everyone is jumping to conclusions? Redknapp lives at Sandbanks, which is only a few miles from Bournemouth. He likes a simple life away from football, choosing one or two favourite restaurants or a walk on the beach with his dogs over the normal trappings that someone of his status and wealth might enjoy. It might be that he's a bit bored kicking around the house and just wants to help a club that he has had an association with for several decades.

Alas, it probably won't turn out that way. Results have not been good so far this season and manager Paul Groves is already under pressure. Redknapp has worked with Groves previously and rates him - which helps - but if Bournemouth's iffy form continues and Groves gets sacked... it's a fairly obvious script from that point forward.

And if that happens - if Harry becomes manager of Bournemouth again - fans will have a quandary on their hands. There will, in all likelihood, be success and attractive football under Redknapp. We'd probably get promoted. But then what?

It's incredibly early for speculation such as this, but these are the sort of daydreams (or nightmares, depending on the individual) that will be going on in fans' heads this evening, so let's not kid ourselves any different.

As a Bournemouth fan, I want to enjoy any success the club has with intense pleasure. When we win a match, a league or whatever, I want that feeling to be glorious. I've not tasted that feeling very often in my 24 years as a Bournemouth supporter, and I don't want any glory to be tempered by a more-than-reasonable worry of what might be around the corner.

If Bournemouth are about to enter a successful period in their history (that's assuming this doesn't all go wrong sooner rather than later) then it is down to the club to convincingly persuade supporters that the long-term future of the club is assured. A wealthy benefactor is not going to bankroll us for ever, and will surely want to see a return on their investment. The club really needs to urge Maxim Demin to talk about his interest in the club and what he wants to get out of it.

Until we know more about him, why he chose to invest in us and what his long-term aims are, any enjoyment we take from milestone moments such as Redknapp's return will be considerably affected by the nagging fear that this will not end well.

We hope it will end well - we've almost lost this club on more occasions than we'd care to recall - but that worry will always be there while there are so many legitimate question marks about the way the club is run/owned.

One thing that is worth noting, though, is that, while Harry always seemed to be in it for himself at Portsmouth (and at Southampton and Tottenham, for that matter), there are two clubs that he has a genuine passion for and would presumably not want blood on his hands were anything bad to happen to them - Bournemouth and West Ham.

Speaking of which, this blog is going to look pretty silly in a month or two when Redknapp is West Ham manager and is hanging out of a car window talking about how much he can't wait to get into the Olympic Stadium isn't it...

Money plays havoc with a football fan's mojo. We want to win and enjoy winning, but even more importantly we want our children and grandchildren to have the opportunity to watch our club win when we're long gone.

I was hoping that writing this blog might crystallise what I'm feeling this evening. But I'm not sure it has. Redknapp coming back to Bournemouth ought to provoke a thousand happy memories of my childhood, watching his excellent Cherries side from Dean Court's F Block with my dad. Instead, while a glimmer of excitement is certainly there, the worries are significant. For now at least.

Phew, time for a pint...


Row Z said...

Wasn't Harry was after the Poole Town job a while back???

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