Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Redknapp relishing Portsmouth return

Harry Redknapp insisted Portsmouth supporters were "not a bunch of nutters" as he looked forward to returning to Fratton Park for the first time since joining Tottenham 12 months ago.

The Spurs boss has been blamed in part by some for the financial problems at the south-coast club, although he has refused any special security on his return.

Instead, Redknapp claimed his house in Sandbanks was being decorated by Portsmouth fans and that his grandson Harry still runs around in a Pompey shirt.

Redknapp said: "I see Portsmouth supporters every day at the petrol station driving down from where I live. I have people painting my house at the moment who are Pompey-mad. They're as good as gold.

"They're not lunatics. They're not a bunch of nutters. They are all being labelled as a bunch of maniacs. They're not. They are good people.

"You'll always have some big mouths there but it shows you what a good job I must have done that they are so upset that I left.

"Normally they are pleased to get rid of you when you leave. I went there when they were bottom of the league with the worst team we have seen in the Premier League. Whoever assembled that lot God only knows!"

Tottenham will start without midfield star Wilson Palacios, who was ordered by Honduras president Roberto Micheletti to attend the celebration reception after helping his country reach the World Cup finals with a 1-0 win over El Salvador in midweek.

Palacios will arrive back early tomorrow morning and go straight to the team hotel but Redknapp said: "It is disappointing, but there is nothing we could do about it. He's struggling for tomorrow.

"I've been trying to get hold of him but he's been travelling. He's a big loss to us. I can't start him in a game when he's travelled. He played Thursday morning our time."

Palacios should take his place on the bench but central defender Ledley King looks set to return after coming through a practice match in midweek.

Jonathan Woodgate also played in the practice game on Tuesday and could be back in the reckoning next week, although Croatia midfielder Luka Modric has suffered a setback following his broken leg and needs further treatment.

Meanwhile, Redknapp heaped praise on striker Peter Crouch who scored two goals in England's 3-0 victory against Belarus in midweek and queried Steve Bruce's decision to give substitute David Beckham the man-of-the-match award.

Redknapp said: "I don't know where Brucie dragged that one up from. Beckham is a top player but I don't think you can give him man of the match for 30-odd minutes.

"Crouch is something completely different that the foreign teams can't cope with."

He admitted former Pompey star Crouch was likely to receive some stick back at Fratton Park but defended his own departure for White Hart Lane.

Redknapp said: "The opportunity came to manage a great club. I left them with a great team of players, players worth absolute fortunes that they sold for fantastic money.

"I loved my time at Portsmouth and I love it here. I speak to Avram Grant all the time. I took Paul Hart there to do the academy. I've got loads of mates there. I'm looking forward to seeing them. I'm not going to worry about the odd few idiots who want to shout. It won't affect me one iota.

"The only thing I'll lose sleep over is if we get beat. I'm not bothered if people are so stupid they want to shout abuse."

As for his three-year-old grandson, he added: "We can't get him to take off his Pompey gear. We've got him a Tottenham kit as well but we can't get him out of his Pompey gear."

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