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