Uneasy peace as Redknapp stays despite Zajec arrival

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The Independent Football

Portsmouth have announced that Harry Redknapp will stay as manager at the club - despite the appointment of the former Panathinaikos director of football Velimir Zajec to the club's board.

Portsmouth have announced that Harry Redknapp will stay as manager at the club - despite the appointment of the former Panathinaikos director of football Velimir Zajec to the club's board.

Redknapp was reportedly at loggerheads with the chairman, Milan Mandaric, over the latter's insistence on adding someone else, expected to be a director of football, to the backroom staff at the club. The former West Ham manager made no secret of his reluctance to work within a continental structure of that sort but a compromise appears to have been reached, with Zajec arriving as executive director.

Redknapp said: "I've been assured that [Zajec] will not affect my job. No player will come in without my say-so.

"I've spent days chatting with the chairman and he's told me that I'm in charge."

Redknapp even mooted the idea that Zajec could search for foreign talent. "We need someone to have a look at players abroad," he said.

However, it is hard to believe Zajec has joined Pompey's board as a mere scout, while Redknapp's happiness - for that, read desire to stay in Portsmouth's employ - is likely to be rudely interrupted should the borders blur between what the pair understand as their roles.

The Fratton Park club announced after a board meeting, in which Redknapp was present with his adviser Mick McGuire of the Professional Footballers' Association, that the manager's position was never in doubt. "Any issues the manager had with a new appointment were speculation created in the media," a club statement said.

"Harry Redknapp remains manager of the club which was never in doubt. The board will continue expanding the club with the appointment of a new executive director who will be Velimir Zajec.

"Speculation that he was joining as a director of football was ill-founded and he will become a main board member."

On the field, Redknapp has seen his strikeforce reduced to a single forward after injuries to top-scorer Aiyegbeni Yakubu and Lomana LuaLua. Both were hurt in Saturday's defeat at Southampton, with Yakubu limping off before half-time with medial knee ligament damage, and LuaLua suffering the recurrence of a groin injury.

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