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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 December 2005, 18:26 GMT
Redknapp walks out on Southampton
Harry Redknapp has left his post as manager of Southampton - and is now expected to open talks with Portsmouth about a return to his former club.

But Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe refused to be drawn on the candidates to replace Redknapp at St Mary's.

Lowe said: "It was a shock, but in football things do happen like that. The message to supporters is that the club is bigger than any individual.

"We will take it a game at a time until we decide what to do long term."

Former England rugby boss Sir Clive Woodward, now technical director at St Mary's, is widely regarded as a candidate to replace Redknapp.

But Lowe insisted that he would not be rushed into a decision.

He said: "It's too early to make public statements about what may or not happen.

"Clive is part of a structure we want to put in place. It doesn't necessarily affect the first team.

"We will have a board meeting this week and we will work out what we will do short and long term."

Lowe said that Redknapp's decion had left him stunned.

Gobsmacked is too small a word. You don't even get a plot like this in Star Wars
Saints director Andrew Cowan

"Unfortunately, Harry has revealed that he felt more comfortable at Pompey," he said.

"It all happened too quickly for anger to set in."

After Neil Warnock revealed he would be staying at Sheffield United, Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric turned his attentions to Redknapp, who left Fratton Park just over a year ago and joined Saints two weeks later.

Mandaric approached Southampton for permission to speak to Redknapp on Thursday.

Lowe explained: "I spoke to Harry who told me he had been considering his future and that he believed Portsmouth to be his 'spiritual home'.

December 1982: Becomes caretaker-boss at Bournemouth - loses first game 9-0 at Lincoln
October 1983: Appointed full-time Cherries manager
June 1992: Resigns as Bournemouth boss. Joins West Ham as assistant to Billy Bonds
August 1994: Named West Ham boss after Bonds resigns
May 2001: Resigns after finishing 14th in Premiership
June 2001: Joins Portsmouth as director of football
March 2002: Replaces Graham Rix as Pompey boss
24 November 2004: Resigns as Pompey manager
8 December 2004: Takes over as Southampton boss
3 December 2005: Leaves his job at Southampton
"I had several conversations with (Portsmouth chief executive) Peter Storrie and said that as a precondition to my consent I would like to be paid the unexpired portion of Harry's contract which is the usual convention.

"I was promised an answer which to date has never come.

"I spoke to Harry again late on Friday about arrangements for Saturday's game against Burnley and he said it was now impossible for him to come back to the club and that in his words, he had been let down."

Lowe concluded: "It has been a very complicated situation which our fans deserve to understand.

"I keep pinching myself and expecting to wake up."

Club director Andrew Cowan added: "Gobsmacked is too small a word. You don't even get a plot like this in Star Wars."

Lowe said he would now look into Portsmouth's handling of the situation.

"I find it extraordinary that officials of Portsmouth Football Club should have made some of the public statements they did on Friday about a Southampton employee," he said.

"I will be asking the Premier League to see if any breach of rules has taken place.

"As far as I'm concerned even if there has not been a breach of rules there has been a breach of courtesy and basic good manners."

News Conference: Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe

Interview: Harry Redknapp

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