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Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Sunday, 6 April 2008 12:48 UK

Portsmouth success stuns Redknapp

Harry Redknapp issues directions to his team in the 1-0 win FA Cup semi-final win over West Brom
Redknapp has brought the good times back to Portsmouth

Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp says he never imagined the club would become so successful when he joined them in 2001.

On Saturday Pompey reached the FA Cup final for the first time in 69 years and they are also flying high in sixth place in the Premier League.

"I've got to be honest, when I went into the club I couldn't really see where the club was ever going to go in the long term," he told the BBC.

"You couldn't ever see a Premier League club emerging, you know."

Redknapp, 61, first joined Portsmouth in 2001 as director of football, when they were struggling in the Championship, and took over as manager in March 2002.

He helped the club win promotion to the Premiership just over a year later but resigned in November 2004 following disagreements with then-owner Milan Mandaric.

I look forward to going to work every day - I just love the game

Pompey boss Harry Redknapp

A few weeks later he took over as boss at their south coast rivals Southampton but returned to Portsmouth in December 2005, saving them from relegation that season before leading them to ninth place last year.

The veteran manager, whose side beat West Brom 1-0 in the FA Cup semi-finals on Saturday, admitted that luck had played its part in the club's rise, which started after they avoided relegation in 2002.

"We put a team together (for the following season) and picked up some experienced players who all came in and every one of them clicked and did fantastic," Redknapp told the BBC's Sportsweek programme.

"We got off to a good start that season and never looked back and won the Championship, but then I think everybody thought we would go down."

However, after surviving their first season Portsmouth have gone on to establish themselves in the top flight and Redknapp says their progress on the field will soon be matched off it.

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"It's all going to happen here. A new training ground's going to happen, a new stadium's going to come along as well," he said.

"(Former owner) Milan Mandaric moved on, he did great for the club, and now Sasha Gaydamak has been fantastic; he's come in and invested and given us a real opportunity to bring better players in."

While Pompey have an FA Cup final on 17 May to look forward to, they are also challenging fifth-placed Everton for a Uefa Cup spot via the Premier League, but Redknapp does not expect to finish higher than sixth.

"I would settle for sixth - to finish sixth would be fantastic," he said.

"The top four will be the top four again and I think Everton will probably finish fifth.

"They'll beat Derby I'm pretty sure today (Sunday) and they'll go seven points clear of us and seven points, with a better goal average, at this stage of the season, will be very hard to peg back with only six games left."

Redknapp added that his love of the game is as strong as ever.

"I do love it, the buzz that you get from it. I look forward to going to work every day - I just love the game."


see also
Redknapp backs Baggies to go up
05 Apr 08 |  FA Cup
Baros 'handball' angers Phillips
05 Apr 08 |  West Bromwich Albion
Comment: Harry Houdini
05 Apr 08 |  Football
West Brom 0-1 Portsmouth
05 Apr 08 |  FA Cup
Saturday's football photos
05 Apr 08 |  Football


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