|Harry Redknapp certainly comes across as a Cockney Geezer. In fact, some mighty say he is the archetypal used car salesman - and he's even lived up to that billing in the transfer market. |
Redknapp is West Ham through-and-through, having been born just down the road in Poplar and also playing for and managing the club. When he was in charge of the club the locals simply referred to him as 'H'.
|Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp (MikeFinn-Kelcey/GettyImages)|
After coming through the youth ranks at Upton Park, he signed professional terms as a 17-year-old in 1964 and went on to make 149 top flight appearances.
The winger moved on in 1972, bound for Third Division football with AFC Bournemouth. Redknapp spent four years at Dean Court, playing 101 games, before finishing his professional career back in London with a short spell at Brentford.
After a few years out of the game, Redknapp made a return to Bournemouth in September 1982 to become the club's assistant manager, working alongside Don Megson.
Megson was sacked in 1984 with the Cherries in trouble near the foot of the Third Division, and Redknapp was handed the chance to cut his managerial teeth.
Initially, Redknapp's brief was to avoid the drop into the bottom rung of the Football League. This he achieved by a comfortable margin, but the FA Cup would provide a superb distraction to their League troubles.
Bournemouth were drawn at home to holders Manchester United in the Third Round of the competition, and they pulled off perhaps their greatest ever result in knocking out the mighty Red Devils.
Redknapp looked to build on a good start to life in the hot seat. He paid close attention to the youth system, insisting that adequate plans were put in place in order to bring talent through into the first team.
The Cherries became one of the best sides in the lower divisions, playing attractive football, as Redknapp wheeled and dealed in the transfer market to lure in bargain stars.
After a couple of seasons of consolidation in mid-table, everything clicked in the 1986/87 season. Bournemouth stormed to the Third Division title in style, clocking up a record 97 points as they held off the challenge of Middlesbrough.
Redknapp failed to mount a bid for promotion into the top flight, with two seasons spent as an average Second Division side, and dropped back down a division in 1990.
But tragedy struck in the summer of 1990 when Redknapp travelled to Italy to take in the World Cup. He was involved in a major road smash which killed five people, including Bournemouth general manager Brian Tiler, and left him with serious injuries.
Doctors ordered Redknapp to take time out from the game, and although he did eventually return to the south coast club he announced his retirement at the end of the 1991/92 campaign. He had become disillusioned with the lack of funds and limited resources at his disposal.
Redknapp didn't put his feet up for long as Billy Bonds persuaded him to work as his assistant manager at West Ham - 'H' had come home.
It would be two years before he would get the chance to manage his beloved Hammers in August 1994, when Bonds left after a major disagreement with the board. He actually offered to resign after 24 hours after being accused of betraying Bonds, but was coaxed into staying.
After three seasons of stabilising the side, enjoying mid-table finishes, the fruits of Harry's labour could be seen.
|Harry Redknapp: East end geezer (PhilCole/GettyImages)|
But that wasn't before the boss had made a couple of glaring errors in the transfer market. Scouring the European market for talent proved to be a chink in his armour.
Marco Boogers, signed for £1million from RKC, proved to be a complete flop - playing just four times as a sub before he was shipped out.
And Romanian striker Florin Raducioiu didn't fare much better after joining the club for £2.4million from Espanyol. After initially storming out because he couldn't wear the number 10 jersey (he didn't understand the squad numbering system), he then scored three goals in 12 games and was sold within six months at a loss of £800,000.
Redknapp, father of England international Jamie, was beginning to come under some pressure from the fans for his failure to create a top-half side, but the board would be repaid for their faith.
As at Dean Court, Redknapp was determined to get the youth system right and yet again he pulled it off with players of the calibre of Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and Frank Lampard coming through the ranks.
The Hammers finished eighth in 1998 and then enjoyed one of the best seasons in their history when finishing in fifth place and qualifying for the InterToto Cup.
The 1999/2000 season was not as successful but that could well have been put down to their involvement in Europe, winning the InterToto Cup and thus qualifying for the UEFA Cup. This meant their season began a month early, which led to tiredness and only one point from the final 12 available.
That same season West Ham lost arguably their best defender when Ferdinand was signed by Leeds United for a record fee of £18million. Although much of the cash would go back to Harry for squad strengthening, his choices in the market again let him down.
The expensive signings of Liverpool pair Rigobert Song and Titi Camara failed to pay off, leaving the board a little worried about how Harry would spend the rest of the cash.
In the end they decided to part company with Redknapp, and his assistant Frank Lampard senior, days before the end of the 2000/01 season.
Redknapp had his successes in his seven-year stay at Upton Park, such as the gamble on the disgraced Paolo di Canio, but he also made mistakes and in truth the relationship had probably come to its natural end.
It was suggested that Harry might retire for a second time, but he soon re-emerged as Director of Football at Portsmouth. He struggled to get to grips with the role, although did show his loyalty by turning down the chance to take over at Leicester City in October 2001.
Rumours that Redknapp would become Pompey's manager were finally proved correct on March 25 when he replaced Graham Rix. The former Chelsea coach had been forced to deal with constant speculation, and it always appeared only a matter of time before he left.
Backed by the millions of chairman Milan Mandaric, Redknapp moulded a squad of youth and experience for an assault on the First Division - veterans Paul Merson and Steve Stone were joined by former Hammers Svetoslav Todorov and Hayden Foxe. Jim Smith was also drafted in as his assistant.
Pompey were excellent from the very beginning, and earned promotion into the Premiership for the first ever time, ironically replacing West Ham, by lifting the First Division title ahead of Leicester. Redknapp was also named the League Managers' Association's Manager of the Year.
Although there was talk of Mandaric leaving the club, he continued to pump in the money. Fans were given hope of staying in the top flight as Redknapp bolstered the squad close season with the signing of players like Teddy Sheringham, Croatian international Boris Zivkovic and Dejan Stefanovic.
Despite enduring a series of long term injuries to vital first team players, Redknapp worked wonders in 2003/04.
Pompey topped the table for a short spell at the start of the season, following a 4-0 thrashing of Bolton Wanderers.
But they then won only one game in the next two-and-a-half months before dishing out another humbling, 6-1, to Leeds United.
Steve Stone, Tim Sherwood, Patrik Berger, Svetoslav Todorov and Vincent Pericard were among those who spent lengthy time on the treatment table. But Harry Redknapp brought in good reinforcements in the January transfer window - Eyal Berkovic, Ivica Mornar, Petri Pasanen and Lomano Tresor LuaLua.
Pompey finished the season with a real flourish, losing one in ten with six victories, as Yakubu bagged 11 goals. But a fall-out between manager and chairman at the end of the campaign threatened to undo all the hard work.
Milan Mandaric wanted to dispense with Jim Smith as Redknapp's assistant and bring in a continental style coach. Harry backed his number two all the way, and at one point it looked as though he would depart Fratton Park.
They eventually sorted out their problems, and Smith remained at the club, but there may still be something smouldering under the surface.