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Joe Strange: Redknapp's return falls flat

2009-10-19

After a week of accusations, death threats and wall-to-wall back-page coverage, Harry Redknapp’s return to Portsmouth was, well, a bit of a let down really.

Now I’m not saying I wanted missiles thrown or fans on the pitch, but a bit of passion wouldn’t go a miss, especially with all the talk about how Harry was set to run ‘the gauntlet of hate’ on his return to the south coast.

I don’t have anything against Redknapp. In fact I rate him very highly as a manager, but as a neutral I was quite looking forward to an emotionally-charged clash on Saturday afternoon. Instead we got some muted booing, the occasional chant of ‘you only went for the money’ and a few Judas posters around the city centre.

The former West Ham boss must have woken up yesterday morning and wondered what all the fuss was about. We shouldn’t forget that Harry has lived through a far tougher return to Portsmouth in the not-too-distant past.

After leaving the club following a fall out with former chairman Milan Mandaric, he took the reigns of their arch rivals Southampton before returning to Fratton Park to a torrent of abuse and a 4-1 hammering. Compared to that, Saturday's return was a walk in the park.

Don’t get me wrong, Harry didn’t get a warm reception. Some booed because they blame the clubs financial problems on his big spending, some booed as he walked out on them mid-season and some booed just because they felt like they should.

Fans have a right to vent their feelings and frustrations when they go to a game. They pay very well for that privilege, but when a manager starts receiving death threats, things have gone too far.

Last week we heard stories of the threats Redknapp had received from disgruntled Pompey ‘fans’ - disgusting threats against not only him but his family too. Harry branded them ‘idiots’ but in truth, that description doesn’t begin to describe the sort of mindless thugs that perpetrate these sorts of crimes. It simply has no place in football - never has, never will.

The lack of reaction to Redknapp’s return shows that the vast majority of Pompey fans appreciate everything he did for their club, many of them would probably welcome him back with open arms should he ever return for a third stint in charge.

He did a fantastic job for them on two separate occasions and although he cheekily labelled himself last week as ‘the best manager they’ve ever had’, in reality few could argue with him. Harry really didn’t deserve to get any stick, I was just hoping for a bit of extra drama come Match of the Day.

- Joe Strange (joe@football.co.uk)

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