Exclusive Extracts From Harry Redknapp’s New Book
The following article is of course completely fabricated.
Dedicated to Rosie. So much more than a dog.
I live for football, always have. It has given me so much. I have no organisational skills, am rubbish with money, and am in it for the love of the game. The game has give me a bit back. Me and Sandra moved into a modest house in Sandbanks, in Dorset, and we still live there now.
But for me, it’s all about finding new players, bringing on talent. In the summer of 1997 I got a call off Joe Jordan on one of those new-fangled mobile phones that were all the rage at the time – I had a Samsung Tab – anyway, Joe says he has seen a hot new kid worth looking at, from South America, went by the name of Messi. I was sceptical, but said to get him over to have a look.
He was tiny! Terrific skills, lovely lad, didn’t say much, but he wasn’t for me. I interviewed him in my car, and sent him on the way with a pat on the back and some words of encouragement. I hope I had helped the lad in my own way. I’ve heard he has done well for himself, but I don’t watch much foreign football.
Then of course there’s transfer deadline day. I’m not one for last-minute wheeler-dealing, but often there is the need to make the odd last-minute tweak here and there. I got wind one year whilst at the Hammers of the availability of Titi Camara. Time was of the essence, so I travelled up to Liverpool by Concorde, and by dusk a deal was secure. I stayed well away from the boardroom itself, as I leave that sort of thing to the chairman. But in the end I got the club a £10m player for £1.5m. The lad didn’t suit our style, and I thought he was a terrific lad, though not the brightest, always rabbiting on about tactics and other stuff that went over my head if I’m honest, but at the time it was one hell of a coup, and it put West Ham on the map.
At Portsmouth, who were in severe financial difficulties prior to my arrival, we sold Crouchy on for a nice profit. Lovely lad, but not the brightest. Terrific feet for a big lad. He had married some glamour model who I didn’t much care for, and I think she had pressured him to move. It was no surprise that Portsmouth struggled after my exit – throughout my tenure there we were down to the bare bones, and in dire need of reinforcements, but there was just no value in the market. The squad I took over was rubbish – some of the lads didn’t even speak English, and we had two strikers who wouldn’t know a sausage roll if it hit them in the face.
At Spurs a rumour emanated that I was after Ruud Van Nistelrooy. I was soon being asked about him repeatedly in the car park at Spurs’ training ground, which annoyed me, as I don’t like talking about other clubs’ players. Daniel Levy was desperate to do a deal, and was prepared to pay whatever it took to get the Dutchman, but I stood up for my career-long principles and insisted we couldn’t go blowing silly wages on a player in the twilight of his career. Thankfully Daniel finally saw sense, though he repaid me by shamelessly sacking me soon after. Spurs only had 2 points when I took over, but football can often stab you in the back.
Of course in between my Pompey spells came a fulfilling spell at Southampton. The offer came out of the blue. Rosie was there when I got home with a wagging tail and a piece of paper in her mouth. Good old Rosie had checked my emails and got rid of the trash. Sandra read the words out to me. It seemed Southampton were interested in me as their manager. I told Sandra that I was worried how a move would be taken by the Portsmouth fans, who loved me, but I needn’t have worried as they were absolutely fine with it all. It was good to go with their blessing, and it made my eventual return there all the more pleasing, and meant I could leave them for a second time (having claimed previously it would be my last job in football) with a clear conscience.
I’ve earned good money in my time, but I am not in it for the monetary rewards. I don’t look at contracts, so I don’t know why clubs keep giving me such large wages and such huge bonus payments. Sandra joked that I should give my £500,000 bonus for getting Spurs into the Champions League to charity, but there are so many good causes out there I wouldn’t know where to start.
Off the pitch, I have had many good men by my side. It doesn’t always work out of course. The fall out with Billy Bonds was one such occasion. There were some spurious rumours that he didn’t like me hogging the pre-match limelight, but the truth is that we fell out over the most trivial of things. Billy and I were discussing the translations of Friedrich Nietzsche’s seminal work Idyllen aus Messina, and a disagreement soon ensued over which was the greatest translation. When a further disagreement brewed over whether he was more greatly influenced by Heraclitus or Rousseau, there was no going back. We almost came to blows and have not spoken since
I was the nation’s choice for the next England manager, no doubt about that. I was having a leisurely breakfast at the Ocean Hotel Health Resort & Spa with Ollie Holt, and I remember quite clearly Ollie telling me that people were coming up to him in the street telling him that I had to be the next boss. I had texts too, telling me the same thing. I’m not great with technology, and can’t read, but I do recall one message from Bobby Moore saying he wished me all the success in my new role, and that I deserved it. True legend was Bobby. Michael Owen text me too, saying all the lads in the England squad were desperate for me to get the job. As an aside, I tried to sign Michel whilst I was manager of Southampton, but there was no helipad at The Dell, so that scuppered the deal. I’ve still got his glossy brochure at home, some lovely pictures in there.
Thankfully the court case was eventually over, a simple misunderstanding blown out of all proportion, but it seems the jokers at the FA, who have never managed a club, never sold 30 players in a year, got duped by a fake jockey or appeared in a Wii advert seemed to think my reputation, previously impeccable, was now tarnished. All my trophies suddenly counted for nothing.
But I am not one to hold grudges. And I look out there now at the footballing world with pride. Gareth Bale is one of my proudest stories as a manager. I can’t remember how many times coaches and assistants said to me, “Harry, you’ve got to play him on the right, or as a holding midfielder.” So-called experts slated me for not even trying him in net, but I knew where his future lay and look at him now. I don’t feel I get enough credit for that, but you win some, you lose some. Look at Andros Townsend now – I knew he was going to be a talent even when I was manager of Bournemouth, and Andros was just breaking into the Spurs’ first team.
But lately it has been tough, no denying that. When I took over QPR, the team was a mess. No manager could have kept that team up, not Fergie, not Arsene, nor me. I was onto a hiding to nothing. I did my best of course, but I don’t think the board understood what was needed to stay up – they bought a lot of players on healthy wages, and that’s not my style at all, so it started going wrong from the very beginning. But we’ll be back, as I have a good set of lads under me, and we sing from the same sheet. And apart from a £10 million house and no criminal record, who could want more than that?
These extracts were translated from the original crayon markings.