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Autobiography is Harry Redknapp's chance to get even with his enemies

Redknapp, still sore over England job, attempts to recast his shady wheeler-dealer character into a Jack-the-lad, but fails

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 October, 2013, 10:00pm

If you think this stop-start Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifiers malarkey spoils your EPL weekends, then just wait until the 2022 Qatar winter event. Not everyone "has the 'ump", though, as one colourful character in the game might say. Harry Redknapp is using the hiatus to launch his autobiography.

Going by the serialisation in a national newspaper, there is little doubt Always Managing: My Autobiography is a "t'riffic" read. Its timely appearance is aimed to get right up the noses of the "clueless" suits who failed to spot Redknapp's exceptional talent and give him the England manager's job.

'Arry attempts to recast his shady wheeler-dealer character into a huggable Jack-the-lad, but fails. He is convinced a confederacy of dunces conspired to cover up their own inadequacies by denying him his true mission in life - to lead the nation to glory.

He tells of how he was gutted when he heard ahead of Euro 2012 that the England Football Association had gone against popular opinion and picked Roy Hodgson.

Redknapp rails: "I wouldn't trust the FA to show me a good manager if their lives depended on it. How would they know? What clubs have they ever run? Who do they speak to who really knows the game?"

Most England fans agree the FA is out of touch. Last year, we like most in the game considered it a done deal that Redknapp - not a master tactician but an effective man-manager - would get the job.

And so did Harry. "I'll admit, I thought it was mine," he writes. "Everyone seemed so certain, everyone I had met from all parts of the game seemed utterly convinced."

He had it all mapped out and even went so far as asking Brendan Rodgers, then at Swansea and now at Liverpool, to be his assistant.

By the end of the summer Redknapp had no job at all. Spurs chairman Daniel Levy sacked him because, as many believe, he became too preoccupied with the England job.

Redknapp debunks this idea. He also ignores his reputation for fair-weather loyalty and his overriding ambition for his bank balance, his court appearance for tax evasion (at which he was found not guilty), and his questionable contacts and alleged seedy backroom deals.

None of these had anything to do with the FA's snub, he insists. It was likely the "£16 million [HK$198 million] compensation" that "would be demanded" from Tottenham. Yet he fails to fully explain why Levy sacked him.

Southampton and Portsmouth fans can readily offer their explanation: his disloyalty still causes gales of anger and disgust along the south coast. Harry also reveals how he was duped and fleeced by a "fake Irish jockey".

We learn of his five years of sleepless nights during the tax evasion probe. He expresses his disgust at West Ham for the way they evicted 1966 World Cup and club hero Bobby Moore from a game because he did not have a ticket.

He boasts how it was he who made Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale the players they are today - and he reveals Bale's obsession with his hair. He also relives the car crash that nearly killed him.

But an example of the "other Harry" that concerns many is his account of how Paul Merson, when under his charge at Portsmouth, came into the dressing room with "a big, brown bag full of readies".

Merson handed him £30,000 and asked him: "Would you look after this for me, gaffer?" Merson tells Harry it's for a bookmaker.

"I put a tracksuit on so there was more room to conceal these readies," he writes. "It was OK until I sprung out of my seat on the touchline. As I did, I felt something move. As I was trying to get a message to the players. I could feel Merson's 30 grand making its way south along my trouser leg. I looked down and the notes were coming out the bottom of my trousers. I edged back to my seat like a bloke who needed the toilet quickly. The staff were very concerned and offered to call a doctor."

You are left asking: "Oh c'mon 'Arry. Stop being a tease. What's the real story?"

But it is the snub by the FA that really rankles Redknapp and you are left with the impression his book is an attempt to slay the ghost of England as the team prepare to qualify for Brazil in the next few days without him. "This isn't about them giving the England job to me or Roy Hodgson, but English football being run by people who really haven't got a clue. And they get to pick the England manager!" They appointed Hodgson, "a man who is more their cup of tea", he claims.

On reading about Harry's ducking and diving against the backdrop of his questionable loyalty, his gullibility and judgment, court appearances, offshore bank accounts and those cash-leaking trousers, most England fans supping from the sensible cup of Hodgson might now figure the FA made a far sweeter, correct choice.