The bantering, likeable Cockney persona that Harry Redknapp presents to the media ensures he typically enjoys favorable coverage. Good old ‘Arry: one of English soccer’s “characters.”
But sometimes we get a glimpse of an alternative Redknapp: a Redknapp who gets extremely pissy if described as a “wheeler-dealer”. A Redknapp that is less Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins, more Vinnie Jones in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Redknapp told the Sun:
“The only reason he has lost weight is because he has had tonsillitis. That’s the only way we could get any weight off him. He is not fit to play a game, that’s the truth. He is the worst professional I have ever come across and I have been his only ally at QPR for the past three years. He doesn’t try and I have protected him for too long.”
In reply, the Moroccan posed for pictures showing a flat (and possibly waxed) stomach, and said that Redknapp sits in his office all day and hardly bothers to take training.
It’s an undignified, albeit massively entertaining, public row. Though QPR’s league position couldn’t get any lower (it is bottom of the EPL, below Burnley!), the club has found a way to sink deeper into the mire.
Disapproving dad Tony Fernandes, the QPR owner — who must now qualify for the descriptor “long-suffering” — issued a statement telling the pair to make up, and the Guardian reported that the 25-year-old trained with the first-team on Wednesday. The author didn’t note whether Redknapp could see him from his office.
Short of living inside an Arby’s and having liquified M&M’s pumped intravenously into the bloodstream, it’s hard to imagine that anyone who runs around for two hours a day, five or six days a week, could actually be fat. Still, Taarabt is a mercurial player, in the sense that he’s a reminder that if you get too exposed to mercury, it’s highly poisonous. He’s got the talent to be QPR’s savior, the temperament to be its destructor.
His problem is that he was born too late. If he’d been around in the 1970s, like QPR’s great maverick hero, Stan Bowles, his brand of indolent genius would have been revered and he’d be treated as a legend, not scorned as a liability.
Sadly, we live in more demanding times, where even cult heroes are expected to do some tackling and chasing background in return for adulation and $100,000 a week from their employers.