Harry Redknapp yesterday jokingly claimed that he almost got Sir Alex Ferguson the sack as Manchester United manager before the Scot had won his first trophy at Old Trafford.
The Southampton manager recalled when he was in charge of Bournemouth for an FA Cup fifth-round tie in 1989 which United won following a replay. "I remember going there when Alex first took over at Old Trafford and drawing 1-1 with them at Dean Court," Redknapp said. He claimed his side were denied a clear penalty in the dying seconds - only to lose the tie in the replay. "It was when Alex was under pressure at the time, the team was under pressure, playing under pressure and we played fantastic, Bournemouth, and should have beaten them."
Asked if it could have sealed Ferguson's fate, Redknapp said: "It might have done. But from United's point of view it's lucky that it didn't because he's gone on to become one of the all-time great managers." The two men are friends and will meet again later today in the FA Cup quarter-final at St Mary's Stadium.
Redknapp is one of the few managers to boast an impressive record against Ferguson, having defeated United when he was in charge at West Ham, in the fourth round in 2001. Despite that he has never taken a team beyond the last eight. Redknapp, nevertheless, managed the last team to beat United in the Premiership. That was before his departure from Portsmouth in the autumn.
It is the League and not the Cup which is his priority now, given Southampton's plight. It means that, in a reversal of trends, it will be the underdogs possibly fielding a weakened team while the favourites put out their strongest. Redknapp is unlikely to risk his son Jamie who has taken another "bang" on his knee.
Wild about Harry past Cup classics between Redknapp and Red Devils
7 January 1984
Bournemouth 2 Manchester United 0
Redknapp: "There was an Italian restaurant called Di Luca's and the owner told our keeper, Ian Leigh, if he kept a clean sheet, he would give him free pizzas for life. Then I bought the restaurant and I stopped the free pizza." His side reached the FA Cup fourth round.
18 February 1989
Bournemouth 1 Manchester United 1
Redknapp: "Luther Blissett was about to put the ball in the empty net from a cross with 20 seconds to go and Steve Bruce came flying in and fouled him." United won the FA Cup replay 1-0 - "but we murdered them that night at Old Trafford," says Redknapp.
29 January 2001
Man Utd 0 West Ham 1
Frédéric Kanouté put through Paolo Di Canio, who was being played onside. The United goalkeeper Fabien Barthez raised his hand, hoping to persuade the Italian that the referee had given offside. Di Canio didn't blink, and scored to send the Hammers through to the FA Cup fifth round.