Harry Redknapp insisted yesterday that no ‑one at Queen's Park Rangers told Peter Odemwingie to make his now notorious trip south from the west midlands to Loftus Road on Thursday night in an ill-fated attempt to see through a move to the west London club.
Instead, Redknapp called for sympathy for Odemwingie, "a nice person" who, he said, had "made a mistake" in his eagerness to be in the right place should he be called upon to do a last-minute medical. The QPR manager said that the player's mistake was to come direct to the ground, where he was spotted by television cameras, rather than being more discreet about his whereabouts.
The 31-year-old was permitted to train yesterday with the West Bromwich Albion squad but has been left out for tomorrow's game against Tottenham. Steve Clarke, the West Bromwich manager, described Odemwingie's decision to go to QPR without permission from his own club as "total lunacy".
Both managers said at their respective press conferences that the clubs had been close to a deal for Odemwingie. Redknapp said that a fee of £3.5m plus the loan of Junior Hoilett had been approved with his blessing, but that things started to fall apart when Hoilett told QPR that he did not want to go.
Clarke claimed that Odemwingie still had a future at his club but would have to consider apologising first. "He has to get picked, he has to get back into the squad, he has to show his team-mates he is willing to help them and, if he is selected for matches, he has to do well in the games.
"I can't say for sure he hasn't played his last game for the club but I don't think he has played his last game for the club. I don't have a big squad and hopefully we can get to a situation sometime in the future where if we need to use Peter we can."
Redknapp, whose side play Norwich City today, denied that Odemwingie had been encouraged by QPR to come to London on Thursday, the transfer deadline day. "He didn't set foot inside the ground. He just pulled up in his car, as you saw on TV," Redknapp said. "He definitely wasn't in the building. He stayed outside, but he made a mistake by coming down here. He shouldn't even have done that.
"I think he wanted to be around just in case the deal got done and he was on hand for the paperwork and a medical. He's probably driven down to London and thought, 'Where do I go now?' and he's headed for the ground.
"We played it by the book and West Brom have been fine about it. They are happy with the way we've dealt with it. The boy's just made a mistake. If you don't pitch up outside the ground, there's no problem, is there?
"It's a shame because he's a nice person, a good guy. I met him two years ago and he's a very educated boy, and he's not the first one who has found himself in a situation where things haven't worked out the way he wanted. He'll probably get some stick now – but a lot of people in football get stick, don't they?"
Redknapp admitted that he had tried to sign a third player from Tottenham, David Bentley, but that the former England international's wages "were a bit heavier than the others". He said that he had got "good value" on the deals for Spurs' Andros Townsend, on loan, and Jermaine Jenas, who has been signed on an 18-month contract. "I think you'll find the wages only come to around £25,000 a week," he said.
Aside from Chris Samba, a £12.5m signing, Redknapp denied that QPR had spent disproportionately big on Premier League survival relative to other clubs in the past.
"The chairman [Tony Fernandes] said to me a couple of weeks ago, 'If you had the choice for a centre-half to replace Ryan Nelsen, who would you go for? So, I said Rio Ferdinand, [Nemanja] Vidic, John Terry, Chris Samba.
"The chairman did the deal. It wasn't a case of me saying we've got to get Chris Samba in here. It was the chairman, with the other shareholders, completely off his own back."
Redknapp said that QPR's former England full-back Luke Young is close to retirement having failed to return from operations on a long-standing injury affecting his ribs and hips. Young, 33, won seven caps but has not played since March. "I think his future has got to be in doubt," Redknapp said.
Sullivan: I was threatened by an angry agent
West Ham co-owner David Sullivan yesterday provided a shocking example of what Harry Redknapp branded "the gang warfare" involving agents.
Earlier this week, QPR manager Redknapp said: "Every agent seems to be trying to screw one another. It's like gang warfare out there – it's scary."
Sullivan, 64, agreed in his newspaper column yesterday: "In this window, I have had an agent threaten me and threaten one of our West Ham players with physical violence, because he thought he was being cut out of a deal," he wrote.
"I heard of three or four agents trying to jump in on other deals. Some of these people are like scavengers.
"I can see it spilling over into violence in the future, unless there is legislation from the FA to curb the practices."