HARRY’S GAME IS ALL OVER
Redknapp axed after Preston defeat
IT WAS a match made in heaven last season, but Harry Redknapp and Birmingham City’s love affair came to an end last night after a 3-1 defeat against Preston. It made it five Championship defeats on the trot for the Blues, who slipped to second bottom after their latest loss. It’s a far cry from end of last season when Redknapp won two of his three matches in charge to maintain Birmingham’s second tier status. The 70year-old then signed a one-year deal and it was expected the Midlanders would challenge for promotion.
Yet despite bringing in 14 players this summer, includ- ing Brentford trio Jota, Harlee Dean and Maxime Colin for more than £10m as the transfer window closed, the former Tottenham and Portsmouth boss has been unable to build any momentum.
The Blues said: “Unfortunately due to the poor start to the campaign which sees the club second from bottom of the Championship, we are left with no choice but to terthe minate the contract of the manager with immediate effect.”
While Redknapp clears his desk, the Blues have announced that Lee Carsley, the club’s head professional development coach, will step in as caretaker-manager.
Meanwhile, League Two strugglers Chesterfield have sacked manager Gary Caldwell after eight months in charge. The former Wigan boss was unable to keep the Spireites in League One last term and they have won just once in the bottom tier this season to lie second from bottom.
Bottom of the league Port Vale added to the managerial misery when they axed Michael Brown after a 1-1 draw against Forest Green Rovers.
FORMER Aston Villa youngster Daniel Johnson helped put the final nail in the coffin of Harry Redknapp’s Birmingham City tenure as Preston came from behind to win at St Andrew’s.
The defeat was Birmingham’s sixth in a row, and spelled the end of Redknapp’s time as manager, with the club announcing Lee Carsley will take temporary charge.
They had led at half-time thanks to Maxime Colin’s goal but Johnson equalised before Jordan Hugill’s deflected strike and Tom Barkhuizen’s tap-in completed the turnaround.
Despondent Redknapp had appeared to sense his time was up, without officially confirming it at the time, when he admitted the defeat left him scratching his head.
“It’s sad,” he said. “It disappoints me because I still think there’s a good team there somewhere.
“And I’m disappointed for the fans too. They deserve better. That was my motivation to carry on this year, because I felt I could put a team together that would give them success.
“Second half, we gave away bad goals. We didn’t defend well, we lost the ball in dangerous areas and didn’t cause them problems. Disappointing.
“It was just rank poor play from us that cost us goals. And what can you do about that? I stand there as a manager and think, ‘What can I do about that?’ I can’t do anything.
“You don’t let people run through the middle of you like we did. I didn’t tell them to do that, that’s for sure, but I take the blame for it – that’s the way football is.”
Birmingham’s afternoon got off to the worst possible start when Jason Lowe became the latest player to suffer a hamstring injury and hobbled off after three minutes. But the Blues regrouped, and Colin broke the deadlock on 35 minutes after racing to the byline and turning his marker inside out before slotting past Chris Maxwell from a tight angle.
Johnson equalised on 56 minutes, receiving the ball in space and running unchecked at the Blues defence before curling a low left-footed strike into the bottom corner.
And Preston were in front on the hour when Barkhuizen pressed Colin into giving the ball away in defence, allowing Josh Harrop to square for Hugill, whose shot spun in via a big deflection.
Johnson, now being booed relentlessly by the home fans, was involved again on 67 minutes, threading a perfect through-ball for Sean Maguire, who squared unselfishly for Barkhuizen to tap in and seal victory.
And Preston boss Alex Neil admitted stern words had been exchanged at half-time, inspiring the visitors’ comeback.
“I didn’t think we did any of the good things we have been doing, and I made the players aware of that at half-time,” he said. “I gave them a tough time, and I said to them, ‘You can either shrink or stick your chest out and show everybody what you can do’.
“Winning away from home takes a lot of bottle, and we had that in spades in the second half.
“I didn’t think DJ did well enough first half, but second half he was great and you could see how much his goal meant to him. I’m really pleased for him.”
FEELING BLUE: Harry Redknapp took charge of Birmingham for the last time yesterday PUTTING THE BOOT IN: Jordan Hugill is congratulated after putting Preston 2-1 up against Birmingham and ending the Redknapp reign
TURNING POINT: Daniel Johnson equalises for Preston North End to burst Birmingham’s bubble