LONDON // Harry Redknapp has sensationally agreed to leave Portsmouth to replace Juande Ramos as Tottenham manager earlier today. Ramos was fired late last night by the north London club with the Spurs in facing a relegation battle after their worst ever start to a season in their 100 years of league football. Spurs agreed a compensation package of £5 million (Dh29.2m) with their Premier League rivals to release Redknapp from his contract at Fratton Park, Redknapp said.
"It's a big, big opportunity to manage a big club before I retire," the 61-year-old former West Ham and Southampton boss said. "I love Portsmouth and I loved my time there, we had some fantastic success and I'd never been happier, but it's a great deal for Portsmouth, £5m pounds for me. "I think the club in all honesty needed the money - things are tight." Spurs currently prop up the rest of the league after taking just two points from their opening eight matches this season. They also began their Uefa Cup group stage in midweek with a 2-0 defeat to Italian side Udinese. The beleaguered chairman Daniel Levy, who had been facing fans' protests before Sunday's match against Bolton, acted quickly to fill the void by turning to Redknapp, who hauled Portsmouth from the brink of relegation to FA Cup glory.
Redknapp expects the official announcement to come from White Hart Lane in the morning, but Spurs reserve team boss Clive Allen and Alex Inglethorpe will take charge of the team for today's game against Bolton. "It will all be sorted out and by tomorrow [Sunday] morning I should be in place," Redknapp said. "I won't pick the team (against Bolton), but I will go in the dressing room and address the players before the match and at halftime."
Spurs' sporting director Daniel Comolli, who has been blamed for his poor command of Tottenham's transfer activity, also left along with first team coaches Marcos Alvarez and Gus Poyet. Levy first contacted the Pompey chief executive Peter Storrie on Friday, but Spurs did not sack the 54-year-old Ramos until late Saturday night - exactly one year after Martin Jol was dumped despite retaining the fans' support. That anger reignited this season when Tottenham's dismal start contrasted with Jol's new Hamburg side topping the German Bundasliga.
Levy, however, had been dissatisfied with Jol's successive top-five finishes, wanting the club to clinch a lucrative Champions League berth by breaking into the top four. He believed the Spaniard Ramos, who had back-to-back Uefa Cup triumphs with Sevilla, could take Spurs to the next level. Ramos took just four months to win the League Cup in February - the club's first trophy since 1999 - but it did not provide a launch pad to a glorious new era.
Since the Spaniard masterminded that victory over Chelsea at Wembley, Spurs has won just three more Premier League matches. Ramos disposed of a number of Jol's regulars during the European summer transfer window and spent more than £40m on players including David Bentley, Luka Modric, Heurelho Gomes and Giovani Dos Santos. The side were expected to at least be challenging for a top four spot - but Spurs sold their prolific strike force of Robbie Keane to Liverpool and then Dimitar Berbatov to Manchester united just minutes before the transfer window closed leaving them desperately short of firepower and no time to find a replacement.
"They [Spurs] have a decent squad on paper, although it's not a well-balanced squad, it's a squad with good ability, very skilful players, but maybe a bit of a soft centre. "We need a little bit more strength and aggression about the team if we're going to survive. You don't pick up two points if you're that good. They've been on an horrendous run of games and we've got to get cracking and turn it around as quick as we can."
Redknapp had a respectable career as a player alongside players like Bobby Moore at West Ham before starting in management at Bournemouth in 1983, where he spent nine years unlocking the potential of an underachieving side. He embarked on a successful seven-year stint with West Ham before moving to Portsmouth in 2002 and guiding them into the top tier of English football for the first time in nearly two decades.
He resigned in 2004 to manage Portsmouth's archrivals Southampton, having performed a spectacular U-turn on the issue, saying he would never defect to Pompey's bitter neighbours. If that seemed improbable, a return to Fratton Park was even less plausible, but he did in December 2005 and steered Pompey to safety, then to a ninth-place finish in the 2006-2007 season. His record should have made him a prime contender for the England job when first Sven-Goran Eriksson and then Steve McClaren vacated the post, but his career has been dogged by unproven allegations.
When the BBC's Panorama programme accused him of making an illegal approach for Bolton's Andy Todd, Redknapp denied any wrongdoing in characteristic fashion. Redknapp claims the episode cost him the chance to succeed McClaren in 2007, but he was still a hot enough property to be offered the Newcastle job in January. The offer was turned down and he subsequently won the FA Cup in May. The Portsmouth owner Alexander Gaydamak is now looking for a new manager, with Redknapp saying that he is also searching for a buyer for the club.
One name in the fray for the managerial vacancy is Avram Grant, who was Redknapp's director of football before the Israeli coach enjoyed a stint as Chelsea coach in 2007. *AP