Redknapp focus on rebuilding Fortress Fratton

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The Independent Online

He returned to Portsmouth even after friends told him he had "no chance" of keeping the club in the Premiership and yet Harry Redknapp said that despite defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Monday he was glad to be back. And although he has now taken his leave of Southampton, the newly reinstalled Portsmouth manager could not resist one last dig at the regime he left behind at St Mary's.

Reflecting in his return to the Portsmouth bench - he spent the second half there at White Hart Lane after sitting with the chairman, Milan Mandaric, before the interval - Redknapp said that his relationship with the Serb-American businessman had been rebuilt. Although he did not mention the Southampton chairman, Rupert Lowe, by name, Redknapp contrasted his current club with others he had experienced.

"It felt like I'd never been away [from Portsmouth]," Redknapp said. "It's still the same people and people call all the staff by their Christian names and not surnames. They're not addressed as 'Redknapp', the chairman calls everyone by their Christian names. It's nice to be treated like that by everybody, so it's good.

"That's life; that's not just football, that's life. You call everybody by your Christian name and you treat everybody as an equal, which we all should be in life. I'm just saying it's nice that Milan treats us all as equals." The blend of Redknapp, born and raised in Poplar in London's East End, and Lowe, a privately educated Hampshire businessman, was testy from the beginning and this latest comment will serve to increase the bad feeling between the two men.

On Monday night, however, it was the referee Uriah Rennie, whose penalty award cost Pompey a point, who upset Redknapp most - although he is not likely to face disciplinary action for describing the decision as "scandalous".

Redknapp picked seven British players in his starting line-up against Tottenham and said that he would persist with those he "knew" until he could make some changes to the squad in the January transfer window. Against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, Redknapp will hope to start adding to Portsmouth's 10 points before a difficult visit from his former club West Ham on Boxing Day.

"That's all the players I know. I haven't got too much to change really," he said. "There are lots of players who have left. We're not overloaded with players. I don't know half the players. They brought a lot of players in. Lots of good players have left and not such good players have come in. Talking to the lads, they were down before, they'd been on a bit of a low. I think they've had a lift. If they work for me like that every week, we can only do our best."

While Redknapp has recalled striker Vincent Pericard, who started on Monday, from his loan spell at Sheffield United, as well as James Keene, 20, from Bournemouth, it will be in January that a decision will be made whether to give him the resources to save the club. He believes that he needs to show that the club has the potential to stay up if Mandaric is to provide the funds to buy players.

"I'm positive. I felt a lot better than I did listening to everybody when I took over," Redknapp said. "A few mates of mine who go every week told me I had no chance. They showed a great attitude and if they can keep working like that, and against West Brom, we've got to make Pompey a difficult place to come to again.

"We've not won at home. We used to beat Man United at home, two years running. We beat Liverpool twice in a season, in cup and in the League, we beat Spurs two years running. No one used to come to Fratton Park and win, it was a difficult place and we've got to get back to that again."

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