Spurs-Pompey: A week away, but look who's getting his version of events in first
By Steve Bone
Sunday 04 Apr 2010 21:59:00
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Less than a week to go now and it’s already all about one man. At least it is according to that one man, Harry Redknapp.

Banner headlines in the News of the World tell us how he saved Pompey. Okay, he didn’t write the headline, but he did give the interview that spawned it. And as usual, there’s not a hint of humility or good grace about it.

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First things first – much of what he says is true. Much of it concerns how much he signed various players for, how much they were paid when they were here and how much they were sold for.

But if this version of events is to believed, there are two things that need further examination. One is the implication that the players’ improvement over that time and their subsequent value over that time was all down to Redknapp, and nothing to do with the players themselves. The second is the suggestion that the transfer fees had something, plenty in fact, to do with Redknapp.

This, of course, is the same Redknapp who, many times in the past when trying to wash his hands of criticism, has told anyone willing to listen: ‘Peter Storrie did all the deals.’

So what did Fleet Street’s favourite wheeler-dealer have to say to the N of the W?

‘All I did was bring players in, do well in the Premier League win the FA Cup, and then they sold 'em at a massive profit,’ he told football editor Rob Shepherd.

‘When idiots talk about the business with Lassana Diarra, then I should remind them. Yeah, we did sign him from Arsenal for quite a bit. We paid £5.5m for him. We paid him £2.5m in wages. And that is what he cost the club... seven and half million and they sold him to Real Madrid for £20m.

‘We bought Glen Johnson for £4m. He was on thirty grand a week for two years, £3m in wages. So he cost £7m and the club sold him to Liverpool for £18m.

‘Sulley Muntari, Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch Benjani. OK, there may be one or two still there the club have not got a profit on, but the rest of them? Big profit. Without them the club would have been skint years ago, years ago.

‘It was not the buying of the players that made the club skint. It was the fact that in the end there was no money coming in from the owners. I don't know what happened, but I would ask, where has all that money gone? I hear people say the team I built that won the FA Cup cost £32m. Well Rio Ferdinand cost as much when he went to Manchester United and we beat them in the quarter-finals. So put it into perspective.

‘What I do know is that when he (Gaydamak) took over we were told he was on Abramovich's level.

‘I remember attending press conferences on how they were going to build a stadium like Bayern Munich's, on water in the docks, and a new training ground. It never happened.’

The words ‘record’ and ‘broken’ spring to mind, though not in that order. But Redknapp’s claim that Pompey would have gone under a long time ago but for him can’t pass without heavy questioning.

As usual with Redknapp, it’s not so much what he says, it’s the way he says it. He can’t help himself.

Yes, he worked wonders at Pompey, taking us into the Premiership, keeping us in it, coming back and leading us to the Great Escape, then leading the team to top-half finishes, the FA Cup and into Europe. All of it was great – something few managers could have done.

But the notion that it was all about making a profit, and that when he needed to earn the club £5m he moved on just for that reason, is absolute rubbish.

How different is Avram Grant’s view of life at Pompey. Here was a man who took the manager’s job knowing the club was pretty much penniless, but who has worked tirelessly since making the best of what he has had at his disposal, while also doing and saying much to restore the pride and passion into the club for which Pompey, and their fans, are known.

What was Grant saying in the Sunday papers about Pompey’s finances? That’s right, nothing. He was more interested in heaping praise on his battle-weary and depleted squad for their efforts in holding on for a point against Blackburn and on firing another deserved broadside at the Premier League for having decided Pompey’s fate for them.

Redknapp really ought to move on from the idea that everything good about Pompey was solely down to him and everything bad was nowt to do with him.

Perhaps he is just trying to deflect the pressure he is under at Spurs to deliver the top-four finish his bosses must crave after the money he has spent, mostly on Pompey rejects. It will be interesting to see what the reaction is even if Spurs win the FA Cup but finish only fifth, sixth or seventh and therefore have to make do with the Europa League.

You can be sure that when blame is being apportioned after such ‘failure’ there’s one man who will be declining to take any…

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