As Portsmouth prepare to take on West Bromwich Albion in today's FA Cup semi-final the former club's manager, Harry Redknapp, will become the first manager to lead a team out at Wembley while on police bail.
Redknapp, who strongly denies any wrongdoing following his arrest by City of London Police as part of their ongoing investigation into alleged football corruption, took time out this week to insist that his conscience was clear.
"It is like anything," the Portsmouth manager said. "When you know you haven't done something wrong it doesn't bother you, does it? If I had done something wrong, I would be more bothered than anybody. I couldn't handle it. But when you haven't it is not a problem.
"Sure, I took it to work. I explained to the lads what it was all about. After it happened I had a meeting and told everyone [at the club] what was going on. It is just a load of nonsense that has nothing to do with me in any shape or form and that will be proved. So I just come to work and get on with it. If I had done something wrong, I would go away and hide, I would want to kill myself, I really would."
Redknapp was one of five men – including Portsmouth's chief executive, Peter Storrie, and the club's former owner, Milan Mandaric – detained on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting. It is unlikely that the matter will be dealt with before next month's FA Cup final. Redknapp said he had not allowed it to overshadow his hopes of landing a first major trophy after 25 years in management.
Despite their league and cup success it has been something of an unsettling season for Portsmouth, who are aiming to win this trophy for the first time in 69 years – after their 1939 success they kept it throughout the Second World War. Redknapp was close to quitting Fratton Park at one point, after being approached by Newcastle United.
"When Newcastle came in it was a difficult week for me," he said, "because people were saying I had got to give it a go, and I understood what they were saying. I was being told if you don't take on the challenge you will always regret it. Yes, there is that side to it, but we have got a good team here.
"So I thought, 'Why would I want to leave it when I thought it was getting better with a club that was going forward?' If I was being badly treated, then I would have walked away from it. But I was being treated good and loving my time here, so there was no need to leave.
"There have been no tinges of regret. Once you make the decision you get on with your life. I don't go home thinking, 'I wish I had done this or that.' Now it would be lovely to get to the final – fantastic, the icing. It would be great for the supporters. Newcastle are a massive club but we have got some good players here, so I don't know if they will be above us next year."
Portsmouth reached the last four in the FA Cup by beating three Championship sides and then overcoming Manchester United in the last eight.
"We had to ride our luck a bit in the quarter-finals but you need to if you're going to win at Old Trafford. People say United missed some chances. So what?" Redknapp said. "We've had 12 away wins this year and you don't do that unless you've got a team with character. We have a tough game now. West Brom keep the ball and can play and I think they are the best footballing team without a doubt in the Championship."
Jermain Defoe is Cup-tied and Portsmouth may also be without John Utaka, who has a hamstring strain, and Hermann Hreidarsson, who has a swollen ankle. Both have spent time in an oxygen chamber this week, in an effort to be fit. A final decision on their participation was being taken last night.Reuse content