Redknapp keen to talk
HARRY Redknapp has suggested he is open to the idea of staying at Birmingham City next season – if the Blues win their battle to stay in the Championship this afternoon.
Victory at Bristol City would ensure Birmingham’s status, though dropped points could allow Blackburn and Nottingham Forest to send them down. If the Blues survive, Redknapp could take a director of football role. The 70-year-old said: “If they (the owners) feel they want to meet me and talk about staying then I’d love to have a meeting with them.”
HARRY Redknapp is ready to come back full-time into management with Birmingham City.
Redknapp has already had contacts on the phone offering players for next season and he says he could put a team together.
By this afternoon Redknapp, 70, is hoping to be at home in Sandbanks, Poole, with his Birmingham rescue mission complete, the club safe in the Championship and a permanent job offer on the way.
Blues need to win at Bristol City, or at least equal what Blackburn and Nottingham Forest do in their games, to escape a self-inflicted disaster.
Redknapp has dropped the biggest hint that he’s up for it.
“I want to keep us up and then it’s up to the people who run the club,” he says. “I haven’t had any dialogue with anybody. It’s up to them. If they feel they want to meet me and talk about staying then I’d love to have a meeting with them.
“When I turned up for the first meeting they said ‘would you come and take the team for the rest of the season’. I was only there for ten minutes and didn’t start asking for anything.”
The deal is likely to be for Redknapp to take a director of football role with Steve Cotterill as first team coach assisted by Paul Groves.
In that way, Redknapp could deal with transfers, with Cotterill taking the day-to-day training. Between them they could decide on tactics with Redknapp having the final say on team selection.
“I think you could get a team together. There are players about you could pick up, let go by clubs, and they could do a good job for you,” says Redknapp.
“I’ve already had one or two people ring me from big clubs saying if you are looking for next season we’ve got a couple of good players we’d let out.
“So I think I’ve got the option of getting some players on loan, a couple of good kids.
“Huddersfield have done that this season and Bristol City have with the young centre-forward, Tammy Abraham, on loan from Chelsea, who has scored all the goals.”
The SOB – Save Our Blues – to Redknapp stopped the rot. He has galvanised the squad and an unlucky defeat at Aston Villa was followed by a tremendous victory over Huddersfield that had a full St Andrew’s rocking.
“The owners might have somebody else in mind. But I could fancy that role as a director of football. It’s a possibility but I’m not one for putting myself up for a job. If they ask me and it’s interesting then great. If it’s not I’ll go back to what I was doing,” says Redknapp.
“I work with BT, I work with a company called Bet Save, I am as busy as I want to be. So it’s not as if I’m chasing it. I only want to do something I enjoy doing and feel I can play a useful part.
“I never say no to football. I’m always open to it, it’s what I enjoy. Last Saturday against Huddersfield was a great day and I loved every minute of it.
“Then I was driving home, I couldn’t wait to pick my wife up, go for a bit of pasta, a glass of wine. It’s Saturday night, I don’t sleep, my head’s buzzing, that’s how you get.
“You can’t explain it to people. It’s a high that’s just fantastic. But the lows are horrendous as well when things aren’t going well. There is no in between with me, I am either up there or down there.”
Whatever happens, whether Birmingham rescue themselves or plunge into the third tier for the first time since 1992, Redknapp is advising the board to act quickly.
“They can’t throw the manager’s job at somebody with a couple of weeks to go,” he warns.
“Someone’s got to organise the pre-season and have a look around the market, see whose about, bring a few players in, strengthen the squad for next season. Birmingham have to make a decision pretty quick.”
There are few men in English football better equipped than Redknapp to head those improvements.
He has been taken by the depth of support and the passion of the fans at Birmingham.
“Twenty eight thousand for our last game,” Redknapp said. “That was fantastic. A full house. And what a noise they made. The atmosphere was great.
“Look at the three clubs fighting it out. Forest, two times European Cup winners. Blackburn, Premier League winners. Birmingham, what a crowd, what a club this could be.
“It does need sorting out here, but, as I say, it is up to the people who own it.”
PUMPED UP: Craig Gardner celebrates scoring the Blues’ second against Huddersfield last week