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Saturday 19 April 2014

Redknapp insists sacking was 'political'

Harry Redknapp says he was sacked by Tottenham Hotspur for "political" reasons rather than results.

Now trying to save Queens Park Rangers from relegation, Redknapp finally lowered his diplomatic guard about a dismissal that came a month after 'The People's Choice' was overlooked for the England job in favour of Roy Hodgson.

As QPR prepared to host Spurs this afternoon, Redknapp was not about to present himself as a tragic figure, kicked in the shins by fate. But he agreed that Tottenham's late-season dip in form was not the real reason for him leaving White Hart Lane.

"Yeah, yeah, it was political," he said. "I've got my own feelings about what happened but it's difficult for me to say."

Informed opinion suggests the impetus to get rid of a manager who had taken Spurs to the Champions League for the first time came from the top of the company – from higher, even, than the office of Daniel Levy, the notoriously tough executive chairman, with whom Redknapp spoke this week about possible transfer trades.

"The first person who rang me when I took over at QPR was Daniel Levy to wish me all the best," said Redknapp, who went on to lavish praise on his old team and play down suggestions of animosity towards Andre Villas-Boas, his successor.

"I loved every minute. Now I'm at QPR. It's a tough challenge but they're great people to work for. I'm loving it."

Maybe so, but the contrast is vivid. Less than a year ago, Redknapp was declaring victory on the steps of Southwark Crown court after his acquittal in a tax-evasion trial.

With the resignation of Fabio Capello, many bookmakers made him odds-on to become England manager. His most senior Premier League colleagues thought it a formality that Redknapp would succeed Capello.

The English FA, though, had other ideas. Redknapp, the story goes, was never considered. Hodgson was identified as the ideal statesman. And there was one more shock in store as Spurs showed Redknapp the exit door.

Redknapp hates gloom. He will not sit long in negativity. Hence his urge to deflect questions about Spurs and portray himself as a football man, happy on a training ground.

"I had four great years there and got very well paid. I've now come to QPR, and don't get so well paid (laughter), but I'm here today, involved in football.

"I love football. I'm out there today with the players trying to find a way of beating Tottenham. I don't sleep because all night I lay there and think. It's football. I'm just trying to get a team that can win some games, but I'm lucky. How many people at my age would love to be going out there this morning?" (© Daily Telegraph, London)

QPR v Tottenham,

Live, Sky Sports 2, 12.45

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