I've signed a player, not the Yorkshire Ripper -- Redknapp
Published 21/08/2010 | 05:00
WILLIAM GALLAS made the short yet potentially explosive trip across North London yesterday to sign for Spurs, with the man who signed him insisting it was a gamble worth taking.
Harry Redknapp appeared baffled at the surprise reactions that he had gone to 'the old enemy' to sign Gallas, claiming: "I haven't signed the Yorkshire Ripper."
"What has he done?" questioned Redknapp. "He is not the Yorkshire Ripper. He plays football."
Gallas has agreed a one-year contract but with the incentive of another year's deal if he starts 30 games. And the former Chelsea player arrives with baggage, a record of falling out with team-mates and managers. Redknapp, though, believes that despite his history and former clubs he could become a hit at White Hart Lane.
"He is a great guy and he will improve Tottenham," added Redknapp. "He is a very quiet man but whenever we have played against him I have thought he is a fantastic defender.
"He could have got a lot more money elsewhere so he hasn't come here for a big pay day. He told me he wanted to play and he has taken the hardest challenge of all in coming to Tottenham."
The furore that followed Sol Campbell's switch from Spurs to Arsenal in 2001 could re-emerge after Gallas took the opposite journey but Redknapp insisted it was of no concern to him or the player.
"He could have said 'no I don't want to go there, they might not like me'. He said 'No, I want to play at Tottenham'."
Gallas will be remembered for an incident at Birmingham in February 2008 when Arsenal, chasing the title, conceded a late penalty. Gallas was furious, kicking a hoarding and then staging a one-man sit-down protest.
And later that year Gallas gave an interview in which he revealed tensions within the squad, claiming they were disruptive to team moral. As a result he lost the captaincy.
But Redknapp believes he is only showing his true desire. Of the incident at St Andrews, he said: "He could have just walked off the pitch and asked the lads 'where are we going tonight... Tramps (nightclub) or somewhere'? But he didn't, he was distraught at the result, he cares, and you need people like him."
Redknapp, though, admitted the signing was a risk, but experience has taught him to trust his gut feeling.
"It is a gamble you take. The easy thing for me was to do nothing and think 'some some of the fans might not like him, I am not going to do that, I don't want to upset anybody and we will keep plodding alone'.
"When I took Paulo di Canio (to West Ham, in 1999) people wrote in the papers that I was walking a tightrope without a safety net underneath, that he could cost me my job. Yet he became one of the greatest all-time players for West Ham. That is the chance you take."
Redknapp will not use Gallas at Stoke today, when he could be without as many as nine players -- including one who, Redknapp admitted, was fighting to save his career.
Defender Jonathan Woodgate has been to the USA and Australia to solve a groin problem and Redknapp revealed: "They're talking about having an operation for Jon now, and it's probably his last chance. He's been all over the world looking for a cure."
Crystal Palace, meanwhile, yesterday signed veteran Dutch midfielder Edgar Davids. Negotiations were delayed after Davids got lost en route to their training ground but, by mid-afternoon, he agreed a pay-as-you-play deal.
Davids, who will be at Selhurst Park today to watch the Championship match with Ipswich, said: " I just want to enjoy football and show what I can do. I'm sharp and fit. I've been training with Ajax the last few weeks."
Davids won 74 caps for the Netherlands, but he is now 37, and last played competitive football, with Ajax, in May 2008. (© Daily Telegraph, London)