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Harry bullied by City? Don't make me laugh!

Game’s ultimate wheeler dealer has short memory

WHEN Harry Redknapp was a young lad growing up in London it's entirely possible that at one stage or another he was the victim of schoolyard bullying -- but it would be stretching the imagination to think that he's suffering the same indignity as an adult.

Yet Harry told us he was the victim of Premier League bullying earlier this week, and how he managed to keep a straight face when he accused Manchester City of wielding a cheque book like a mallet is a great mystery.

I know I laughed out loud when I heard his words. If there is anyone on this planet who knows everything there is to know about the football transfer market, it's Harry Redknapp. And the idea that anyone could bully him in that environment is hilarious.


I'm sure Manchester City might have used their financial clout to try to dominate the market but that's nothing more than the law of the jungle at work, a law Redknapp has used to his advantage at one time or another.

Indeed, you could argue that Redknapp is sitting pretty in an untouchable fourth place and contemplating Champions League football next season as a direct result of another manager waving a big stick.

Cast your mind back to the end of the transfer window in August 2008 when Spurs had agreed a deal with Manchester City to sell Dimitar Berbatov.

In the dying moments, we watched Sky's cameras as Berbatov was intercepted by Alex Ferguson and all but kidnapped from under the noses of his cross-town rivals.

At that point, it's hard to tell what was going on between the three clubs but there's little doubt that Berbatov went to Manchester with Spurs' blessing and expected to be playing at Eastlands.

A day later, he had signed for Manchester United and a whopping £30m changed hands. Shortly before that, Spurs banked £20m from the sale of Robbie Keane to Liverpool.

At roughly the same time, Juande Ramos was nearing the end of an undistinguished stint as Spurs' boss but he left a decent legacy when he used some of the cash collected for Berbatov to buy Roman Pavlyuchenko.

Ramos was sacked a few months later and Redknapp didn't seem to notice the fact that Spurs used their financial clout to prise him away from Portsmouth as a replacement.

He used the money left over from the Berbatov deal to re-sign Jermain Defoe and then Wilson Palacios in the 2009 January window.

This, of course, was the deal which Redknapp now claims was almost scuppered by Manchester City's threat to outbid Spurs for Palacios if they continued to pursue Craig Bellamy.

From where I'm sitting, Harry did alright from the whole saga. Pavlyuchenko has scored absolutely vital goals in the race for fourth place and Palacios has been a big player for Redknapp, playing over 40 times this season.


Manchester City didn't fare too badly either. Berbatov went to Old Trafford instead of Eastlands and instead of flopping while wearing a blue shirt, he's been a failure in red.

Ferguson's late-night hijack was a classic example of a big organisation using its muscle but I haven't seen Redknapp criticising his old pal in Manchester or heard Spurs complain to the authorities because they made more on the Berbatov deal than they might have. I would be astonished if Redknapp hasn't found himself in a position of power in a transfer deal and used that strength to get a player he wants.

That's the system we work with, for good or for ill, and until someone changes it there will always be situations like that in football.

The obvious answer is to switch to something like the draft system which they use in American sport and that would mean an unprecedented level of co-operation between Premier League club managers as there is in American football.

Owner of franchises in the NFL work together to benefit all and because of the way the draft system distributes players, the balance of power on the field changes from one season to the next.

But it's hard to see how clubs with such deep, deep rivalries would ever sit down and talk about things like wage caps and lower transfer fees.

Every club is an independent kingdom and will fight for every advantage as Ferguson has proved time and time again at Old Trafford.

Redknapp knows this better than any other manager. Over the years, he has been one of the most active and most successful in the movement of players from one club to another.

I have to say, I thought he looked childish when he went public with his complaint about Manchester City.

It's fine to feel aggrieved about the way a transfer deal is done -- but why would anyone want to go public about it?