Frustration for Harry Redknapp as 'ice cream men' ruin transfer window
The Queen's Park Rangers manager, Harry Redknapp, likened the competition among agents to place themselves at the centre of lucrative January transfer window deals to "gang warfare" yesterday, drawing a second analogy with the Glaswegian drug gangs' so-called ice cream wars of the 1980s.
Describing the layers of agents and fixers trying to earn money out of fewer and fewer deals, Redknapp said that much of his club's time was spent fathoming out who they should negotiate with in order to sign a player.
Asked why he thought the level of competition had increased, Redknapp said: "There's not that many deals happening. If someone can muscle in on a deal ... it's a bit like ice cream sellers when someone has nicked their pitch ... in Glasgow! Someone's going to shoot them or something!"
His chairman Tony Fernandes has had a second bid for West Brom striker Peter Odemwingie rejected, with the player clearly keen to leave given his Twitter rant over the weekend. Redknapp wants to sign the former Blackburn Rovers defender Christopher Samba from Anzhi Makhachkala. He will attend a work permit hearing today at Wembley for the Korean international left-back Yun Suk-yeung.
Redknapp said: "This transfer window, I have never seen anything like it. Every agent seems to be trying to screw one another. It's like gang warfare out there – it's scary. If you're trying to get a player another agent will try to scupper that deal if he's not involved in it, to try to get you to have one of his. It's unreal, unbelievable. They're all fighting for big money – that's the problem."
With his side bottom of the Premier League table and facing the champions Manchester City at Loftus Road on Tuesday, Redknapp said he would "like probably three or four" new players before the transfer window closes on Thursday night. "But good ones," he said. "They have got to be good ones."
Having made a number of trips to France to scout players, including his new striker Loïc Rémy and the France midfielder Yann M'Vila, who subsequently went to Rubin Kazan in Russia – "It was money in the end," Redknapp said, "that was the key for him" – the QPR manager said he had encountered great frustration doing deals.
"I have been to meet players and then I have had people say, 'You have gone with this person to try to do the deal. They won't do a deal with him [the player] unless you go with me. I'm the only person who can get the deal done'. That's how it has gone. Every deal has been like that.
"It's so hard to get to the bottom of it," he added, mimicking a typical conversation: "'Oh, you have spoken to the agent, well, I am the only person who can deal with the club.' 'Oh, are you? OK, fine.' Then someone else says, 'He's not the person you should be dealing with, you should be dealing with me.' In the end I have left it to the chairman, it was doing my head in. It's crazy.
"As Bournemouth manager, I signed Tony Pulis one night at Newport. I turned up to watch him, three hours' drive, and he wasn't even playing. He was sitting having a cup of tea. I took him on a free transfer. He didn't have an agent, no, bloody hell. He was only too pleased to move. Now it's so difficult. Every deal is so complicated. You wonder where it is going to finish up. They are at each others' throats."
Redknapp said that he was not aware of the details of Odemwingie's fraught Twitter communications on Saturday. Instead he said it left him bemused as to why players would put themselves in that position. "I swear I don't know what Twitter is – that's on a computer not on a phone?" he asked. Told at that point that Twitter was accessible via phones, Redknapp said players would have to accept the consequences.
"If you are going on Twitter you are going to have people tweeting you back, you are going to have to take all that. They leave themselves all wide open. You lot are probably all on Twitter, you're probably thinking, 'What's this twit talking about?' But in all honesty I don't understand it. You can't get Twitter on this phone."
Redknapp still uses a Nokia 6310 which he took from his pocket at that moment, noticing at the same time that he had received a text. "Oh my God, another agent has sent me four players," he said. "All rubbish."
A deal for Etienne Capoue of Toulouse, Redknapp said, was "maybe too expensive for us". Fernandes was, Redknapp added, "trying for his life [to make signings] and we're all trying. We've got some targets and if we can get them it will be good."
He said there had been no offers to take the out-of-favour right-back Jose Bosingwa. Pushed on whether Jamie Mackie and DJ Campbell would be allowed to leave, Redknapp indicated he would prefer to keep them. Asked whether he thought anyone other than Anton Ferdinand, bound for Bursaspor in Turkey, would leave, Redknapp replied: "I hope so."
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Ice cream wars: The real story
The "ice cream wars" took place in the East End of Glasgow in the 1980s between rival ice cream van operators, over lucrative drug distribution territory. The gangs would use the vans to sell drugs and the battle for who controlled the streets became an increasingly bitter one.
The conflicts involved daily violence and intimidation, and led to the deaths by arson of several members of the family of one ice cream van driver and a subsequent court case that lasted for 20 years.