Harry Redknapp must have had mixed feelings on Saturday evening when he heard that his local team, Bournemouth, had clinched promotion to the Championship: joy for the club where he started his managerial career, and gloom at the prospect of returning there next season as manager of a relegated QPR team.
That outcome could be sealed tonight if Villa win and would be something of a comedown for a man who has masterminded Champions League victories at the San Siro, although he put a brave face on the possibility.
"I started off at Bournemouth and for 10 years I loved every minute of it," he said. "I love football. It was great going to Milan and winning but this is where I am now and I will get on with the job. I think I could put a team together here that would have a real chance of getting up. But it's not going to be easy, it'll be tough."
And, of course, it depends on his being invited to stay on at Loftus Road after failing to transform the fortunes of the expensively-assembled, hugely-underachieving squad he inherited from Mark Hughes in November. If he is, his rebuilding plans will depend on being able to unload players surplus to his requirements and keep those he wants, both tricky tasks. Proven performers such as Loic Remy and Christopher Samba will hardly be relishing second-tier football, while others who have not justified their enormous pay cheques may be content to sit on long, lucrative contracts.
"It makes me laugh when I hear all that crap about 'Oh, they won't play in the Championship, they are too good'," Redknapp said. "They put themselves in the Championship because they weren't good enough in the Premier League, that is the fact. But it's hard when people have got long contracts. If they're earning good money they are not going to get that anywhere elsewhere, so they are not going to move."
If possible he would find low-budget, high-character players of the type he signed to get Portsmouth promoted from the same division in 2003. "I was lucky that quite a lot of players were out of contract and I could change things around. And I brought characters into the club. People like Arjan De Zeeuw, the centre half, who was an absolute leader of men. I took Paul Merson for £5,000 a week. Villa were paying the rest of his wages and he changed the club with his ability."
Stoke need three more points to be safe, which – along with the job of manager Tony Pulis – has been put at risk by changing their playing style, according to David Kemp, the assistant. If Stoke opt to make a change, Steve Bould and Gus Poyet will be favourites to replace Pulis.Reuse content