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Can an ‘advisory role’ ever really be a success?

On Friday, League One side Bournemouth announced that former manager Harry Redknapp had returned to the club in an advisory role on a voluntary basis.

But, for how long will it last? What does his appointment mean for manager Paul Groves? And what, in reality, is an ‘advisory role’ anyway?

For those of us looking in from the outside it does have all the hallmarks of a short term job, something that provides Redknapp with his football ‘fix’, yet doesn’t stop him from actively looking for another managerial job.

Since his sacking from Tottenham, he has admitted to wanting another top-level post. On August 26 he said: “When you've been working with top players it's very difficult to work with inferior players.

"I am capable of managing at the very top level so we'll see what comes up."

Such a statement is understandable from a man who has been a success at every club apart from his ill-fated spell at Southampton.

It would be unrealistic to expect him to drop down the leagues as a manager, especially considering that at 65-years-old his next job could be his last.

Harry’s four year spell in charge of Spurs was an undoubted success, and his previous exploits at both West Ham and Portsmouth have proven that he is capable of mastering a range of circumstances.

At West Ham he dealt with the expectation and pressure that comes with the ‘West Ham way’, and led the club to consecutive top half finishes.

Previous ‘advisory’ experience

His time at Portsmouth was remarkable for a host of reasons. Before his first period at the club they had endured a nightmarish decade of failed managers and near relegation.

In Harry’s first season the club stormed to the Division One title, with Paul Merson at the heart of the team. Pompey then survived in their first season in the Premier League, finishing an impressive 13th.

After a brief spell at rivals Southampton he returned to win the FA Cup and brought European football to Fratton Park.

However, before he got his hands on the top job he served as director of football in 2001 under former owner Milan Mandaric.

Such a move was a surprise. Pompey were a club with no recent or hope for future success, Redknapp had years of top flight experience, and the then manager Graham Rix had no intention of giving up his seat in the dug-out.

As the pressure built on Rix the calls came for him to be replaced, and the rest is history.

It is difficult to see the same situation developing at the Cherries, but stranger things have happened and Groves would be wise to keep a clear distinction between their roles.

‘A lot to offer’

The one advantage that he has is his relationship with Redknapp, having worked with him at Pompey.

Chairman Eddie Mitchell made reference to this when explaining the decision and insisted that Groves and assistant Shaun Brooks wouldn’t be overruled. He said: “We met and he offered to come in on a voluntary basis.

"He still has a passion for the club and for football, and he's got a lot to offer for us.

“Paul (Groves) and Shaun (Brooks) will still have the final say on all football matters, there's no doubt about that.

“They're very astute people and they're not above listening to anyone, and I'm sure they can learn from him."

He added: "They have both worked with him before and I think there's only person who would be able to get on that coach tomorrow without Paul and Shaun rejecting the idea, and that one person is Harry.”

Mitchell may have pulled off the coup of the summer and most other lower league teams would appreciate the expertise Redknapp can offer.

Groves is in a position to use the 65-year-old’s extensive network of contacts, which could lead to a greater influx of players in the January transfer window.

His passion and affinity for the club, built after nine years as manager from 1983-1992, might ensure that the relationship can reap its full rewards and could be the added impetus needed for a Cherries promotion challenge.

Words: Gary Peters

Image: Sophie Elbourn

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