Redknapp walks out on beloved Pompey

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The Independent Football

Harry Redknapp quit yesterday as manager of Portsmouth after losing patience in his row with the club's chairman Milan Mandaric. Redknapp insisted he had not been "pushed" but his departure follows the appointment over his head of executive director Velimir Zajec.

Harry Redknapp quit yesterday as manager of Portsmouth after losing patience in his row with the club's chairman Milan Mandaric. Redknapp insisted he had not been "pushed" but his departure follows the appointment over his head of executive director Velimir Zajec.

"I had been thinking about it for a while, even at the start of the season," Redknapp stated. "I just wanted a break, I really do. I have left the club in good shape - we are halfway up the table with a terrific squad of players."

Redknapp departs with his assistant Jim Smith. Zajec will be in charge for Saturday's visit to Bolton Wanderers, although Portsmouth's managing director Peter Storrie said last night that this was simply because of the suddenness of Redknapp's departure. Zajec will not take the post full-time and a new head coach will be appointed.

Sources close to Redknapp claim he has been finding his job more "stressful" of late. But his stress levels have undoubtedly not been helped by the fractious relationship he has had with Mandaric. The two clashed at the end of last season when Mandaric first mooted the idea of a director of football and a re-vamp of Redknapp's coaching staff. Mandaric has been concerned at what he believes is an excessive wage bill at the club and wants more investment in youth. He has also been keen to appoint to the board someone such as Zajec to oversee strategy and keep a control on finances and transfers.

Redknapp regarded this as undermining his position, not least because in his two and a half years in charge at Portsmouth he has taken them from the bottom of the second tier to mid-table in the Premiership. He had a two-hour meeting with Mandaric on Sunday before announcing his decision to go at a press conference yesterday. The 57-year-old said: "It was just something which had been coming for a while - no one has pushed me out. This is my decision 110 per cent. This is nothing to do with mutual consent. This is not a decision from the chairman or anyone else."

Redknapp, who earned more than £1m a year, said he was walking away from a big contract and implied that, although he had signed a new two-year deal only last season, he would not be receiving a pay-off. He said that he now wanted to take a break from football - which would rule him out of the vacant manager's job at Wolverhampton Wanderers. However, the West Midlands club may test his resolve and Redknapp may be attracted by the idea of reviving them in the same way he has done Portsmouth.

But yesterday he said: "I want to go on and do other things in my life. I want to spend a little more time with my family, my wife. Who knows, I may come back into football, I may not. I just want a few days away to decide what I want to do. I am just going to take a bit of time. I am not going to say I am finished with football, that I am retiring, because I don't know what I want to do. My wife keeps saying, 'you are going to be bored in four weeks Harry, what are you doing? Are you sure?' But I really feel I want a break and that I want to walk away while things are great."

That was confirmed by Mandaric - even if he has also insisted on Zajec's appointment and that his duties would be further reaching than Redknapp had wanted. "I was disappointed with the way that was all handled," Redknapp said. "I pick up a newspaper and see I had just got manager of the month, then suddenly I am down the pan. But that was not the reason at all." He added: "The chairman has asked me to stay and wants me to stay, but it is my decision."

Mandaric has implied that he too may step down and reiterated that threat yesterday. "I sometimes wish I could go with Harry, to be honest with you," he said. "I'm not a very happy man these days. I don't deserve this." However, he added: "My immediate plan is to keep the club going forward. Right now, luckily, I have a man on the board [Zajec] who understands football and he will take Harry's place on a temporary basis. We will look for a manager or head coach, whatever is needed. I have no idea of names and I won't discuss that."

The Portsmouth defender David Unsworth said: "I can understand his [Redknapp's] position, without a shadow of a doubt. Harry's a very proud football man and when you look at what he's achieved and the players he has brought in, what more could Harry Redknapp do for the club?"

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