Stefanovic: My role in Pompey boss’ sacking

Dejan Stefanovic, left, with former Pompey boss Harry Redknapp
Dejan Stefanovic, left, with former Pompey boss Harry Redknapp
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This Christmas sees Played Up Pompey Too hit the shelves.

Written by The News chief sports writer Neil Allen, the book contains fresh interviews with 23 of the Fratton faithful’s favourite players.

Played Up Pompey Too

Played Up Pompey Too

Kicking off a series of extracts this week is Dejan Stefanovic, who made 125 appearances and scored three goals for the club.

Enough was enough, it was time to talk to Milan Mandaric.

We met at a Portsmouth restaurant, it was my idea. He was a good friend, he still is, and on occasions we would socialise. That day, however, was about work.

‘Mr Chairman,’ I said. ‘If you want to stay alive and remain in the Premier League there is only one way – you need to get rid of Alain Perrin and to bring back Harry.’

He looked at me, he was shocked, maybe he was thinking ‘Wow, not Harry Redknapp again!’.

Deep down he knew, he was aware of the club’s precarious league placing, he could recognise the atmosphere around the place was no good. It was obvious something had to be done.

‘Okay, I will think about it,’ he replied.

The next day he sacked Perrin – and told me Harry was going to return to Fratton Park.

That was a key moment for Pompey. The December 2005 return of our former manager from Southampton did, indeed, keep us in the Premier League.

Perrin had his ideas – unfortunately most of the time I didn’t agree with them. I wasn’t alone, many of my team-mates shared the same opinion.

He could well have been a good manager in France during his time at Troyes and Marseilles, but over here he was totally, totally in the wrong.

I had gathered together a couple of players for a meeting, others I talked to on the training pitch. I wanted to hear their opinion, I needed to gauge their thoughts.

As captain I needed to act. If I was to hide from what my team-mates were telling me then I didn’t want to be skipper. If there was a problem then I had to speak up for the good of the club.

I knew what most of the players were thinking, everyone believed we were heading out of the Premier League under Perrin. People had different opinions, but most agreed it would be best for the club if he left.

Having seen so many unhappy players, I arranged a meeting with our chairman. It was my responsibility, enough was enough, our manager needed to go.

There was one man who could step in to save us and I delivered my opinion to Milan – Harry Redknapp. Thankfully, he listened.

n Played Up Pompey Too is priced at £17.99 and available from Waterstones in Portsmouth, Fareham and Petersfield and local newsagents.

It can also be ordered from Amazon.