Shar­ing the spot­light

Boss Harry Red­knapp will be IAN Mc­FAR­LANE sug­gests vet­eran out­fit Birm­ing­ham City… ea­ger to splash the cash at Cham­pi­onship

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS - Ian Mc­Far­lane is the Peter­bor­ough United cor­re­spon­dent for D3D4­Foot­ball.com

Aston Villa, Birm­ing­ham and WBA

WITH Harry Red­knapp’s sur­prise, but ul­ti­mately timely, ap­point­ment at Birm­ing­ham City at the back end of last sea­son, the Blues staved off rel­e­ga­tion from the Cham­pi­onship.

The ob­jec­tive achieved, ‘Arry was awarded the man­age­rial po­si­tion at the ripe age of 70. It’s just the lat­est chap­ter in a fas­ci­nat­ing man­age­rial ca­reer of a boss who has al­ways liked to wheel and deal in the trans­fer mar­ket.

Harry isn’t just a ‘gold-dig­ging’ man­ager, which some would have you be­lieve, he also knows how to snout a bar­gain in the trans­fer mar­ket and holds a pos­i­tive can­dle for youth.

He would have to pro­mote youth when the money was not there at the likes of Bournemouth and, to a de­gree, West Ham.

Dur­ing his seven-year spell at West Ham, he gar­nered the likes of Michael Car­rick, Rio Fer­di­nand, Joe Cole and Frank Lam­pard through their in­dus­tri­ous academy, even de­fend­ing the lat­ter pas­sion­ately at a press con­fer­ence after be­ing ac­cused of pro­mot­ing him to the first team based on his fa­ther’s in­volve­ment with the club and due to the fact he was his un­cle.

This foray into the rich virtues of the youth academy was also in­ter­spersed with ‘the good, the bad and ugly’ trans­fers dur­ing his time with the Ham­mers.

Paulo Di Canio, Eyal Berkovic, John Hart­son and Trevor Sin­clair were notable pos­i­tives. How­ever, Paulo Futre, Florin Ra­ducioiu and Marco Boogers weren’t so suc­cess­ful. If there was a West Ham dic­tionary, the def­i­ni­tion for abysmal could be summed up ad­e­quately with a pic­ture of these three char­ac­ters. Dur­ing Red­knapp’s time with the Ham­mers, it is es­ti­mated 58 play­ers were signed, spend­ing £52.09 mil­lion, bring­ing £77.01 mil­lion back in. Harry’s rep­u­ta­tion will al­ways be renowned for his two spells at Portsmouth. His first stint led to a pro­mo­tion to the Pre­mier­ship in 2002/03 and started with him orig­i­nally be­ing named di­rec­tor of foot­ball. The first spell span­ning be­tween 2002-04 re­lied more upon ‘griz­zled jour­ney­men’. How­ever, there were sign­ings such as De­jan Ste­fanovic and Lo­mana LuaLua who would cre­ate a niche at the club. This pe­riod sig­nalled 41 play­ers in for £7.65 mil­lion and 41 sold for £5.4 mil­lion. After a fall-out with chair­man Mi­lan Man­daric, Harry rubbed his face in it by join­ing bit­ter ri­vals Southamp­ton. This ul­ti­mately led to him be­ing un­able to stave off rel­e­ga­tion from the top flight for the first time in 27 years. In his time at Saints, he signed eight play­ers for a com­bined £2.57 mil­lion with 18 hit­ting the ex­its for an es­ti­mated com­bined £16 mil­lion. Some Saints fans could see this as a con­spir­acy, based upon the cir­cum­stances and where he went next.

Harry’s sec­ond spell at Portsmouth would start based upon a new chair­man seem­ingly with a for­tune to spend, by the name of Alexan­dre Gay­damak.

Oh, and did Harry spend? £68.3 mil­lion in two sea­sons to be ex­act, with un­der half that fig­ure rolling back in. Some fruit­ful tal­ents flocked down to Frat­ton Park. Niko Kran­j­car, Sul­ley Mun­tari, Papa Boupa Diop, Glen John­son and Jer­main De­foe to name a handful. In this spell Harry and Pom­pey would lift the 2008 FA Cup – he’s still the last English man­ager to lift a ma­jor tro­phy.

How­ever, within his time in charge a deficit of £40 mil­lion was built. As Harry would leave for Tot­ten­ham, Pom­pey hit the skids, in per­ilous fi­nan­cial tur­moil.

At Spurs, Harry must have felt like a child with an un­lim­ited Toys R Us voucher.

At the time, the north Lon­don­ers were a lit­tle light on the suc­cess scales, but not on the mon­e­tary as­pect. Harry cer­tainly earned his keep, not only guid­ing Spurs to

the right end of the ta­ble, but Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the first time. Just what the mil­lions spent war­ranted. Such tal­ents came in as the likes of De­foe and Kran­j­car again as well as Peter Crouch, Se­bastien Bas­song, Kyle Walker and Kyle Naughton as well as golden-booted Ir­ish­man, Rob­bie Keane. Many felt the only thing Harry would leave Spurs for would be the Eng­land na­tional team. This did not tran­spire – in­stead he would not reach an agree­ment on a new con­tract and would leave. He would resur­face dur­ing a tur­bu­lent 2012-15 spell at QPR. The money had flowed at a ridicu­lous rate. There weren’t just steep trans­fer fees, but in­cred­i­ble wages and bumper con­tracts. Red­knapp even­tu­ally left this post on med­i­cal grounds and, after a brief spell coach­ing the Jor­dan na­tional team and a stint as a foot­ball ad­vi­sor with Derby County, he’s back in the hot­seat. Is this good for Birm­ing­ham City? After not long ago be­ing in fi­nan­cial cri­sis them­selves, Harry has al­ready gone after John Terry, now Aston Villa, and LA Gal­axy’s Ash­ley Cole (think of those wages). But as well as a pen­chant for spend­ing money, Harry also likes to get his teams play­ing pos­i­tive, at­trac­tive foot­ball. If all goes to plan and the Blues turn on the style on the pitch and the fans turn up in their droves, then per­haps they’ll hit the jack­pot.

Paulo Di Canio Lo­mana LuaLua Jer­main De­foe

King of the Blues: Harry Red­knapp Favourite: Niko Kran­j­car played un­der Red­knapp at Portsmouth and Tot­ten­ham

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