“ Words fail me. He is the heartbeat and soul of this club”
I’m not always the biggest fan of Harry Redknapp “the man”. It’s the nagging feeling that he might not be a very nice human being. There’s a frequently tapped reservoir of anger lurking just below an unusually thin skin that can flare up at any time, as seen on the recent wheeler dealer interview or here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOgTCbz-XmU (admittedly he is also very funny as also evidenced here).
But I do like Harry Redknapp the football manager, and he is a ‘football man’ whatever that means. Not only is he right about Dawson, but it’s a nice touch that he comes out and says it now.
I long ago gave up the notion that liking football meant you had to like footballers. If I bumped into Alan Hutton in a Dumbarton Road bar, believe me I would not ask to join him for a drink. A friend of mine tells the story of how he won a ‘football training day’ competition and got to meet a more notable Alan, a Geordie Messiah no less, at Hampden Park back when he was England’s main man. My Celtic daft mate went up to Shearer and in a cheery Glasgow banter (no really) type way said to him “eh Alan – any chance of you signing for the hoops, by the way?”. Allegedly (and I should stress that Alan Shearer, a regular visitor to this blog, is welcome to put his side of the story in the comments section) the great man’s response was “you can fuck off” .
Why my friend was still applying to cereal packet competitions in his late 20s I do not know. But you get the point – even if they aren’t all snorting Cristal off the backsides of underage French dwarves, smashing up disabled peoples’ cars with golf clubs or listening to shit r and b, I don’t think it’s controversial to suggest that most footballers come across as narcissistic and just a bit dislikeable. And that’s fine. I don’t want to challenge Tom Huddlestone to a friendly game of backgammon, or to discuss the merits of Talk Talk’s classic “Spirit of Eden” with Roman Pavlyuchenko. I just want them to play well for Tottenham.
But that’s not how I feel about Dawson (or Gomes, come to think of it). There’s just something undeniably likeable about him. It’s in the way he seemed like a little kid, so happy to fly out to South Africa. It’s in every interview he ever gives. It’s in the fact he always seems to be the one sent out for charity publicity shots. But most of all, it’s that his favourite thing in the world genuinely seems to be running 30 yards at full pelt towards the sidelines, getting there just before the tricky winger would be clean through, and SMASHING the ball high into the upper east before jogging backwards into position with a broad grin on his face, content that all is right in the world and that he is doing what he was born to do. No nonsense defending. For all I know Michael Dawson’s hobbies may include burning babies for fuel or torturing small mammals but I severely doubt it, and anyway, someone who plays football with literally a smile on his face cannot be all bad. He’s in that Jimmy Bullard, Leo Messi, Sol Campbell category of ‘footballers we all like’. I kind of want to patronise him in the way we patronised Steffen Freund or the Ginger Pele, but luckily he’s a bit too good for that.
Now it seems as though he’ll only be out for 4-8 weeks, depending on the report, so it’s not as bad as first feared – I thought it was a season ender. We’ll get by with King or Bassong and Gallas for a couple of months I’m sure, and its faint praise but surely Younes Kaboul is the best sixth choice centre back in the premiership. Regardless of our cover though, I cannot wait to see Michael Dawson smashing balls into the upper stand once again. It’s what the Champions League is all about.
Elsewhere there’s calm before the storm in Tottenham world. Rumours of bids for Bale from Madrid seem to be gathering a bit of momentum. Less scarily, Hutton is talking about a move in January if he doesn’t get much football and Cudicini is linked with a loan move to Middlesbrough. I could comfortably live with either of those – there must be at least one Kyle who can fill in at right back if needed along with Kaboul, and I reckon Cudicini is basically finished, gone, over.
I blame England.