Harry Redknapp: It was a crazy move to go from Portsmouth to Southampton
Harry Redknapp admitted he was unaware of the hate between south-coast rivals Pompey and Southampton before swapping Fratton Park for St Mary’s.
The 72-year-old left the Blues after a row with then chairman Milan Mandaric in 2004 and became manager of their arch-rivals just two weeks later.
Redknapp, who guided Pompey to FA Cup glory in 2008 during his second spell as boss, was unhappy with the appointment of Velimir Zajec as director of football.
After questioning Mandaric on the Croatian’s arrival, the pair had a falling out and he quit as the Blues boss as a result.
Without a job and residing on the south coast, Redknapp had no reluctance taking up the manager’s post at Southampton.
But it was only when abuse started to arrive from Pompey fans following his appointment that Redknapp realised the ‘crazy move’ he had made.
Speaking in the September edition of FourFourTwo magazine, Redknapp said: ‘I fell out with Milan Mandaric at Portsmouth. I’d got into my car to drive home one day and suddenly I had four phone calls from the press saying, “I see you’ve got a director of football coming tomorrow?”
‘I said, “No chance, what are you going on about? I’ve just been with Milan and we haven’t got a director of football”.
‘“We have Jim Smith, Joe Jordan and Kevin Bond. None of us are young – what do we need a director of football for?”
‘The next day, I got to the training ground and this guy was there, Velimir Zajec. I went back to Milan, who’d told me, “No one’s coming in”. We had a row and I quit.
‘Soon after, I got a call from Southampton.
‘I lived down here, so why shouldn’t I work? It was a crazy move. I didn’t realise the hate between them.’
Redknapp revealed the extent Pompey supporters went to to abuse him after his switch to Southampton.
The 72-year-old received phone calls with ‘horrendous’ messages left.
Fisherman from Portsmouth would also yell abuse as they went past his Sandbanks home.
‘It was (very bad). Non-stop phone calls all day, leaving horrendous messages,’ Redknapp added.
‘At home, I’d be outside and the boats that went past always seemed to be fishermen from Portsmouth.
‘They would go past, a big gang of them on their boats going out through the harbour, yelling abuse.’