Harry Redknapp: 'I didn't want to go away and jump off Bournemouth cliffs'

After an eventful year of trials and sackings, Harry is back doing what he loves best

Click to follow
The Independent Football

One minute we were at the top of "Bournemouth cliffs", looking down the steep face of a Harry Redknapp soundbite as he attempted to make clear the complete absence of suicidal feelings on that fateful day in June when he left Spurs. ("I didn't go away from Tottenham that night when Daniel Levy sacked me and want to jump off Bournemouth cliffs").

The next we were down a Ukrainian salt mine contemplating the fate that would have befallen Redknapp had he taken the job as manager of that country's national team and not performed as expected. ("You can't say: 'Oh, we're playing England, it doesn't matter if we don't win.' I would have been sent down the salt mines!").

But for most of the time spent yesterday morning with Redknapp, on his first day as Queen's Park Rangers manager, it was hard not to follow his wistful gaze out the window to the club's windswept training pitches, with Heathrow's runways to the south and the queue of lorries on the M4 to the north.

This time last year he was Tottenham Hotspur manager, third in the Premier League and easily the highest placed of any English manager in the Premier League. Today, he is in charge of bottom-placed QPR for the first time, preparing for a dogfight of a game with Sunderland, another team whose form has gone through the floor, at the Stadium of Light.

In between he has been forced to divulge the details of his life in court on trial for tax evasion, for which he was acquitted; been the bookies' favourite for the England job and sacked by Tottenham in June. He is back in the game after five months out although, even at 65, Redknapp does not seem to have lost any of that nervous tension.

Yesterday his view of life at the bottom of the Premier League oscillated from philosophical acceptance of the black eyes that football can deal you to the admission he had badly missed the adrenalin rush of winning on a Saturday afternoon. "Just get on with life that is what you do," he said. "It is only a game, only a job... this is only football." But it seemed like it was himself, rather than anyone else, he was trying to convince.

As Redknapp spoke for the cameras, his old friend and training ground enforcer Joe Jordan came up the stairs, newly decked out in QPR gear but not stopping to glance at a sign on the wall of the old sports pavilion that doubles up as the players' canteen.

It was left behind from the Mark Hughes era and may well find itself quietly stowed away in the weeks to come. It reminds players that before they enter the canteen they should have, among other things, "finished your shakes", "washed your hands" and "understood how hard you worked and how this will affect your food choice".

They are the kind of demands that, one supposes, Redknapp has never made of a player himself and indicative of the approach of Hughes' staff of coaches and sports scientists that QPR have traded for his successor's more instinctive way of managing.

In his five-month sabbatical, Redknapp said he had watched most of his football at Bournemouth, often "going downstairs for a cup of tea" afterwards with the managers. "A bit of reality. Fantastic lads. I enjoyed it".

He had not been to a single Premier League game since he left Spurs because, he said, he did not want to set tongues wagging about other managers' jobs. He was civil about Levy who he said had called to wish him the best. "We had a chat," he said. "That's life isn't it?" Then he spoiled the karma for himself by mentioning for the umpteenth time that QPR only had four points from 13 games.