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Wednesday, 9 May, 2001, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Harry leaves his legacy
Harry Redknapp
The strain shows on the West Ham bench
By BBC Sport Online's Frank Keogh

Harry Redknapp's seven-year reign as West Ham boss ended as it began - with the supporters stunned.

But no-one should have been surprised because the Redknapp years at Upton Park were an unpredictable mix of flair, failings and farce.

And as the 54-year-old bid farewell after guaranteeing the club's Premiership status, the bubble-blowing fans had more splits than a Russian gym.

Redknapp fans hailed his open approach, lovable humour, commitment to attacking football and the mere fact he was a diehard Hammer.

Paolo Futre
Futre's number was soon up
Opponents will point to tactical flaws, misguided signings, lack of a trophy and inability to take the club one step further.

But no-one will doubt the highs, when they happened, were pretty special, even if the silverware polish has become redundant.

Under Redknapp, West Ham achieved their highest top flight place, fifth in 1999, and a return to Europe via the Intertoto back door.

They delighted a nation jealous of Manchester United's success with an unlikely 1-0 FA Cup win at Old Trafford just months before Redknapp's departure.

Transfer failings

West Ham harnessed some of England's brightest young talent - in Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Frank Lampard and Michael Carrick.

They also revived the flagging careers of players with such diverse expertise as Paolo di Canio, Stuart Pearce and Trevor Sinclair.

Admittedly, others flopped, and some of the foreign signings were laughable failures.

Redknapp said Romanian Florin Raducioiu was aptly-named because his performances for West Ham were "worth about two bob."

Portuguese star Paulo Futre got shirty on his debut. He would only play in the number ten shirt and only got his way by giving John Moncur a free holiday in his luxurious villa.

Marco Boogers
Boogers did not prove to be a hit
Marco Boogers was signed instead of Bristol Rovers striker Marcus Stewart.

Boogers mis-fired, and went absent without leave to a caravan in Holland!

Stewart went on to be one of the Premiership's top hitmen with Ipswich Town.

In his colourful biography, Redknapp says: "At the time I had no money, my hands were tied and I had to take some gambles.

"But as you know by now, I've been doing that all my life."

If Redknapp was not pushed out of West Ham, he may just have taken the biggest gamble of all.

He was well-liked by many Hammers fans who forgave him for succeeding Upton Park legend Billy Bonds, who did not have such a short memory.

Bright future

They also seemed happy with brother-in-law Frank Lampard as assistant, although some cried foul particularly when Lampard junior made the first team.

But Redknapp's lasting legacy will be some great memories and some great hopes for the future.

The former Bournemouth boss clearly hoodwinked the fans when initially playing dumb over John Hartson's infamous training ground bust-up with Eyal Berkovic.

Yet Hartson was, after all, the signing who effectively saved West ham from relegation shortly after Redknapp took over.

Redknapp also turned round the career of di Canio, who went from an outcast - after pushing a referee - to one of the most entertaining players around.

And Redknapp has perhaps secured the future of a club, about to enter a new era with a re-developed stadium, by securing 18m for Rio Ferdinand.

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