Redknapp and Smith to stay at Portsmouth

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The Independent Online

Harry Redknapp is expected to remain as Portsmouth's manager next season with Jim Smith as his assistant. Talks will continue today with the chairman, Milan Mandaric, to end the row over the future of Smith and Redknapp's other assistant, Kevin Bond, which had threatened to tear the club apart.

Harry Redknapp is expected to remain as Portsmouth's manager next season with Jim Smith as his assistant. Talks will continue today with the chairman, Milan Mandaric, to end the row over the future of Smith and Redknapp's other assistant, Kevin Bond, which had threatened to tear the club apart.

It appears that both Redknapp and Mandaric have realised the damage that was being done and have backed down. It is unclear whether or not a so-called "super coach" will also be employed but it appears that if one does now arrive, he will be Redknapp's choice, which opens the way for the former Stoke City manager, Steve Cotterill. Mandaric had hoped to employ a European coach such as the Belgian George Leekens.

A statement was released following a two-hour meeting at Fratton Park. It read: "We feel there has been a lot of unnecessary comments and confusion by us all. For the benefit of all our supporters there has been no change in the current football management team and the dialogue will continue in a positive manner. Everyone in the club is looking forward to the last game of the season and finishing on a high note."

That takes place against Middlesbrough today after which there will be another meeting. At no point during yesterday's gathering did Redknapp offer to resign - even though Mandaric was clearly willing to accept his departure. Redknapp has made it plain he would leave his £400,000-a-year job only if the two years of his contract were paid up.

Smith has a one-year rolling contract which is contingent on the club remaining in the Premiership. The future of the 63-year-old was central to the dispute which led to Mandaric - the club's owner - threatening to walk out. Earlier in the day he said: "I can't believe what's happened this week. I've got to go back to America next week, and I'll be thinking about my future." It is even thought that he might listen to offers for his stake in the club.

Astonishingly, Mandaric had also accused Redknapp of calling Smith "useless" in a meeting last December. Mandaric said: "I tried to protect Harry and not go public... Harry said he could do without Jim and really didn't need him. He said he would like to keep him for the rest of the season because he was doing this favour for Jim. That is not a good reason to keep somebody. He told me he could do without him and even said he was useless."

Mandaric also accused Redknapp of being concerned what his friends in football, such as Sir Alex Ferguson, would think. The claims had provoked a furious response from Redknapp who said the chairman was "telling filthy lies" and added: "I've supported Jim and it looks like I'll lose a job I love over it."

That no longer appears to be the case but Mandaric remains concerned over Portsmouth's £20m wage bill - one of the biggest in the Premiership - the youth policy and coaching. He has also been angered by claims of a shoestring budget and has questioned some fees paid to agents.

Redknapp and Smith took over two years ago and won promotion to the Premiership in their first season. Smith said that he is "bemused" by the row. "I'm as confused as the fans," he said.

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