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The Footballers" Football Column – Luther Blissett: Gianfranco Zola has established Watford as a force really quickly

LUTHER BLISSETT: People say Watford have exploited a loan 'loophole' but Zola has established us as a force really quickly

PUBLISHED:

10:56 GMT, 13 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:15 GMT, 13 March 2013

Luther Blissett

Luther Blissett played more than 500 games for Watford and helped them to promotion from the fourth division to the top flight between 1975 and 1982. He won 14 caps for England, scoring a hat-trick on his debut at Wembley. Blissett also had a spell in Italy at AC Milan before playing for Harry Redknapp at Bournemouth and short loan at Ossie Ardiles’ West Brom in the early 1990s. In his debut Footballers’ Football Column he looks at Watford’s promotion challenge, defends the club's controversial loan signings and looks at racism in the game….

Footballers Football Column with Luther Blissett

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I’m very pleased to see Watford challenging at the top of the Championship. For all the years I have been associated with them, they have been successful club. Either challenging for promotion or the top spot, so it is great to see Gianfranco Zola’s side continue that tradition.

When they whole takeover by the Pozzo family came about, there were people who were worried that their Watford was going to drastically change.

And yes, there have been changes, but there is a long-term plan and the success we are having this season so far has been welcomed by everybody. It has opened a few people’s eyes and even the sceptics have come round to thinking, ‘Wow this is amazing.’

On the up: Marco Cassetti and Almen Abdi have helped Watford become promotion challengers

On the up: Marco Cassetti and Almen Abdi have helped Watford become promotion challengers

Loan star: Ikechi Anya is one of the players on loan from Grenada who have helped Watford into third

Loan star: Ikechi Anya is one of the players on loan from Grenada who have helped Watford into third

Hornets are buzzing: Matej Vydra's 20 league goals have been crucial for Watford

Hornets are buzzing: Matej Vydra's 20 league goals have been crucial for Watford

It has been great for the town and everybody connected with the club and hopefully they can carry on and see the job all the way through to the Premier League.

There has been a lot of talk about the way the club have operated in the transfer market and particularly the loan signings from Serie A side Udinese and Spanish club Granada who are also owned by the Pozzo family.

But the talk has only really come about in the last month or so since we played Crystal Palace and Ian Holloway spoke about it. But we are two-thirds of the way through the season and they have been here since the start, so why is it only an issue now

Giampaolo Pozzo

Gianfranco Zola

Working together: Watford owner Giampaolo Pozzo and manager Gianfranco Zola are aiming for promotion

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The Footballer's Football Column – Carolyn Radford: Life in non-League It's all fast cars and 70-year-old club secretaries
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The opportunity was there for Watford to sign these players on loan, the rules allowed the club to do it. People are calling it a loophole now because Watford, in their eyes, have benefited from it, but the interpretation of the rules is the most important thing and the owners have looked at it and thought that this would be a good way of establishing Watford as a real force in this division really quickly.

When the takeover happened and the links with the two clubs were made clear, it as one of the fears among the fans that we would not see any of our own players and the club would lose its identity, but the blend has been very good between the home-grown players and the loan players.

You have the skills and the technique of the players who have come in and then you have the understanding of what the Championship is all about, plus their own ability from the home-grown players, so it has been very good.

It is a case of now trying to carry that on into the Premier League, if we get there, then trying to build on that and be able to hold our own in that league and become an established Premier League team.

I believe we can win promotion and I have felt that way since around October time. Our away form has been phenomenal, so if we can get our home form to match that then I think we have a very good chance.

Gianfranco Zola has done a great job. I speak to fans at game and they are blown away by the style of football we are playing at the moment.

The football they are producing and the quality of players we have at the club has really struck a note with the supporters and you just hope that it is the start of something big.

If Watford are promoted, it will be interesting to see if we will be playing against QPR and my old manager Harry Redknapp. QPR’s win over Southampton a few weeks ago was massive, not just for the points but for the belief it has giving them, they will now be thinking, ‘We can do this’.

They still have an awful lot to do and they still are relying on other teams dropping points, but the belief is there.

I played under Harry at Bournemouth at the beginning of his managerial career and I don’t think he has changed in that time.

The thing that struck me about him when I played under him is that he is very good man manager.

He does not take the training sessions. He is like a chef, a chef will get all the right ingredients to make a dish work, Harry is the same, he is very good at getting the right players together and then the coaches put the finishing touches in place.

Starting out: Luther Blissett played under Harry Redknapp at Bournemouth

Starting out: Luther Blissett played under Harry Redknapp at Bournemouth

Still the same: Blissett says Redknapp has not changed during all his years in management

Still the same: Blissett says Redknapp has not changed during all his years in management

But Harry makes sure all the right pieces are there and guide them in the right direction.
That is Harry’s biggest strength, being able to spot the pieces of the puzzle and put them together.

Talking of managers, I was very pleased to see the appointments of two managers last month, Paul Ince at Blackpool and Chris Kiwomya at Notts County. It is a step, only a small step, in the right direction for black managers in this county.

When I think back to when I started playing at the end of the 1970s, I knew wanted to be a manager, so I took my first coaching badges at 17 to give myself the best possible chance to be a manager when I finished playing.

I always believe a job should be given to someone based on their ability, not the colour of their skin or who you know someone who knows someone. Football has been like that for too long and too many managers have got jobs based on that.

Dream debut: Blissett scored a hat-trick for England during the 9-0 win over Luxembourg at Wembley

Dream debut: Blissett scored a hat-trick for England during the 9-0 win over Luxembourg at Wembley

Luther Blisset of Watford

Luther Blissett, AC Milan

Making his way in the game: Blissett made his name at Watford before moving to AC Milan

I have not been a fan of something like the Rooney Rule but if it gets black mangers an interview where in the past they were not getting that opportunity, then it is a step in the right direction. I used to send off applications for jobs and occasionally I would get a letter back saying they are looking for someone more experience.

I used to wonder how much experience the people who were sending letters to me had How many games had they played I have played in different leagues and in different countries and then when someone tells me I don’t have the experience is an insult.

What about the first person who managed a football team, the first person who managed a big business What experience did they have You learn on the job but you have to be given that chance first time by someone.

Chris Kiwomya

Paul Ince

A step forward: Blissett was pleased Chris Kiwomya got the Notts County job and Blackpool appointed Paul Ince

I watch Match of the Day and I hear pundits talk about certain players and say: ‘He’ll make a great manager when he retires’ and I just think ‘Why Because you know him and he played for the same club as you’

That is their premise. How many of those pundits have ever said that about someone like Ince or Sol Campbell You hear them tipping certain players, but it is never a black player.

It is not the pundit being racist or prejudice, it is because it is not in their psyche to see a black manager. It is an unconscious thing. That needs to change.

That said, the problem with racism is better now than when I started playing in the 70s. Racism was a problem then, not just in football but in society, there were TV shows like Love Thy Neighbour in which racism was normal.

Time to move on: Blissett says racism was worse in football and society in the 1970s when shows like Love Thy Neighbour were on television

Time to move on: Blissett says racism was worse in football and society in the 1970s when shows like Love Thy Neighbour were on television

Kevin-Prince Boateng

Kevin Prince Boateng

Doing the right thing: Blissett praised Kevin-Prince Boateng for walking off when he was racially abused

Staying on: Samuel Eto'o was racially abused while playing for Barcelona but was persuaded not to walk off by team-mates and officials

Staying on: Samuel Eto'o was racially abused while playing for Barcelona but was persuaded not to walk off by team-mates and officials

I was abused at every stadium I went to, not just by fans but by opposition players as well. At 17-18 it had an affect on me.

But when I was in Italy at AC Milan it was bad as well, but they are making some progress, after all they were the first players to walk off the pitch.

When
Kevin-Prince Boateng was abused in a friendly game playing for AC Milan
and he booted the ball into the crowd and walked off, I thought it was
brilliant. And what made it better was that all his team-mates went off with him. That was fantastic.

Not dealing with the issues: Blissett would like to see the authorities really clamp down on racism rather then fine players like Nicklas Bendtner for showing a sponsor's name on his pants

Not dealing with the issues: Blissett would like to see the authorities really clamp down on racism rather then fine players like Nicklas Bendtner for showing a sponsor's name on his pants

Years ago Samuel Eto'o was going to do
the same thing when he was playing for Barcelona and he was persuaded by
his team-mates to stay.

PROSTATE CANCER UK

When I was a player at Watford, Graham Taylor created a family club and encouraged us to help in the community.

I
have lost members of my family to cancer. So if I am able to do
anything to help raise money or awareness then I am more than happy to
do so. It is something that everyone will be touched by.

250,000
UK men are currently living with the disease, and every year over
40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer that is unbelievable.

So
along with Prostate Cancer UK, who are The Football League’s official
charity, we are doing a bike ride from London to Amsterdam and keen to
get fans to come along and join us and raise money, it will be an
amazing experience. I need to get on my bike and practise, it is the
saddle soreness I need to get used to more than anything, but I am
looking forward to it.

CLICK HERE to find out more about the London to Amsterdam bike ride.

If those players at that time had walked off then it would have sent a massive message out across the world.

Players have to realise they are in a very powerful position. If you were abused like that in any other profession, nobody would think any ill of you walked away, so why shouldn’t footballers do the same

The people who run football always go on about ‘the beautiful game’ and make a point of respect in the game. Where is the respect for the players who are abused like this

It is all well and good having T-shirts with ‘Respect’ on them and it ticks a box for the authorities. But when it comes to actual incidents they are the ones who have to take firm action, they just walk away from it.

Yet they will fine a player like Nicklas Bendtner for showing his pants with a sponsor on them. It’s madness.

Where were the UEFA officials at the U21 game when the England players were being abused in Serbia When you look at the people who run the game and they decide to punish the players who have been abused for the last two hours, as they did with the England players, then it shows they have no idea what racism is.

These people who run the game really need to get some education and learn about racism.

Lincoln City push through loan for Newport"s Jake Thomson on Twitter

The first Twitter transfer Lincoln push through loan for Newport's Thomson in 140 characters

By
Adam Shergold

PUBLISHED:

16:51 GMT, 2 January 2013

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UPDATED:

16:52 GMT, 2 January 2013

Trinidad and Tobago Jake Thomson signed for Lincoln City on a month-long loan today from Newport County – but it took a bit of Twitter wrangling to push the move through.

The Welsh side announced on their official account at 1pm this afternoon that the deal had been completed, only for fellow Conference club Lincoln to immediately shoot back and deny it.

The Imps Twitter account replied: 'Can you therefore get the paperwork signed and sent to us so the move can be completed'

Twitter transfer! Lincoln took offence at Newport's claims that a loan deal for Jake Thomson had been completed

Twitter transfer! Lincoln took offence at Newport's claims that a loan deal for Jake Thomson had been completed

They later snapped back at another Twitter user who had simply told them to pick up the phone to complete negotiations, writing: 'Surely the unprofessional approach is announcing a loan move that hasn't even happened yet'

23-year-old Thomson did complete his move later in the day and is eligible to make his Lincoln debut at Ebbsfleet United on Saturday.

Loan deal: Trinidad and Tobago international Thomson in action for Cheltenham Town

Loan deal: Trinidad and Tobago international Thomson in action for Cheltenham Town

He joined Newport from Forest Green Rovers and has so far made 16 appearances this season.

Capped twice by the Caribbean nation, he has previously played for Southampton, Bournemouth, Torquay, Cheltenham and Exeter City.

Harry Redknapp tells QPR players to show they care

Four points is shameful! Redknapp tells QPR players to show they care about club

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UPDATED:

00:29 GMT, 27 November 2012

This time last year, Harry Redknapp was managing a team on a run to the top four of the Barclays Premier League.

Tottenham’s football was breathtaking, unbeaten in 10 games as Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart tore into the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal.

A year on, a top-four manager who hoped to succeed Fabio Capello as England boss has taken over a team with just four points.

Prove you care: Harry Redknapp is demanding his men improve their performances

Prove you care: Harry Redknapp is demanding his men improve their performances

Rapid improvement: QPR must get more points on the board if they are to avoid the drop

Rapid improvement: QPR must get more points on the board if they are to avoid the drop

‘When Daniel Levy sacked me that night (June 13) I didn’t leave and think I’d jump off the edge of Bournemouth cliffs,’ Redknapp said on Monday.

‘The next day I was up playing golf. I don’t hold grudges and I spoke to Daniel over the weekend. He wished me all the best. It’s all a bit bizarre the way things finished for me at Tottenham, but that’s life.

‘When I heard Roy Hodgson had got the England job I wasn’t going to lock myself in a room — it’s only a game. I can get het up because I want to do well but in the cold light of day what does it all mean’

Yesterday it meant everything again as he talked at QPR’s decrepit training base in Harlington, west London, where paint peels off the walls and the big industrial bins in the car park are overloaded with rubbish. It may be a case of taking out the trash in January, just as soon as Redknapp works out who is ready for a relegation scrap.

‘Four points is embarrassing,’ he admitted as he prepares the players for this evening’s Premier League clash at Sunderland. ‘How can you have four points from 13 games

‘Players who aren’t playing will blame those who are playing. Those who are playing will blame somebody else. It’s up to me to make my own decisions over what’s wrong with them and what needs doing.’

Redknapp will run this team with the same enthusiasm that filled the air when he walked into Tottenham’s old training ground. His love of the game is infectious and reassuring; he has promised the grandchildren he would stop at the club shop later to buy them QPR kits before his new team travelled to the Stadium of Light.

‘The family are QPR fans now,’ he said. It could easily have been the colours of Ukraine, after Redknapp was offered the job by the president of the country’s football federation, Anatoliy Konkov, in London last week.

‘It was a great job, a four-year contract, and it wasn’t as if I had to live in Ukraine,’ explained Redknapp. ‘Capello is manager of Russia and he lives in Italy. I could have gone over at weekends, watched some games and then spent a few days at home. I spoke to Andriy Shevchenko about it. The Under 21s are good and I was excited.

That's the way to goal: Harry Redknapp gives his players instructions ahead of their first game

That's the way to goal: Harry Redknapp gives his players instructions ahead of their first game

What am I doing here Redknapp has fallen some way from his Spurs days

What am I doing here Redknapp has fallen some way from his Spurs days

Need a cuppa: Redknapp supps on a hot beverage during the press conference

Need a cuppa: Redknapp supps on a hot beverage during the press conference

Sunderland v QPR

‘It wouldn’t have been easy for me to face England in the World Cup qualifiers, but I couldn’t say “Oh it doesn’t matter if we don’t win today” — they would have thrown me down the salt mines.’

But there is no regular contact with players in a national job and there was a twinkle in Redknapp’s eye yesterday as he prepared to take an 11am training session in the wind and rain.

Redknapp has missed the morning commute from his home in Sandbanks, picking up assistant Kevin Bond along the way.

‘I probably needed a break and maybe it didn’t do me any harm,’ he added. ‘I went through a tough year with the court case and maybe leaving Tottenham wasn’t the worst thing. Until last Saturday I hadn’t watched a Premier League game live since I finished at Tottenham. I thought if I turned up people would say, “What’s he doing here, they’ve lost a few games, he’s after my job”. I don’t need that.

‘I used to watch Bournemouth play on
Saturday afternoons and I loved it. But now I’m looking forward to
getting back into the Premier League.’

It starts on Tuesday at Sunderland, his first official game in charge after Mark Hughes was sacked on Friday.

Axed: Mark Hughes was booted out of Loftus Road

Axed: Mark Hughes was booted out of Loftus Road

QPR are without an away win since November 19, 2011, when two Heidar Helguson goals and a Luke Young strike secured a 3-2 win at Stoke under Neil Warnock.

‘We keep saying we have a good team, but you don’t have four points from 13 games if you are playing well,’ Redknapp said.

‘Apart from going back to Portsmouth, when it looked like we were doomed, this is my biggest challenge yet as a manager. If I’d failed there I probably wouldn’t have been allowed to get out alive. At QPR the challenge is to bring the group together.

‘I want to see players chasing and getting the hump if they see other players standing around.’

Instead, he expects to get them up and running.

David James presented with MBE

James receives MBE at Buckingham Palace for services to football and charity

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UPDATED:

14:58 GMT, 25 October 2012

David James was presented with an MBE on for services to football and charity on Thursday.

The former England goalkeeper, who now plays for League One AFC Bournemouth, received the accolade from HRH The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace.

James, 42, has won 53 caps for his country and has played for Watford, Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham, Manchester City, Portsmouth and Bristol City in a 23-year career.

Honour: David James was made an MBE for services to football and charity at Buckingham Palace

Honour: David James was made an MBE for services to football and charity at Buckingham Palace

David James is awarded his MBE by the Prince of Wales

David James receives his MBE from the Prince of Wales

Hold still! James receives his MBE from HRH The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace

The stopper is second on the Premier League's all-time appearance list, with over 500 matches, and holds the record for the most clean sheets with 173.

He has also been recgonised for his work with the David James Foundation, which helps communities in Malawi improve their food supply by farming the land they live on.

James is also involved with the Special Olympics Charity and Access Sport, which offers sports provision to deprived areas of the UK.

An unorthodox back four: James poses for a picture with some Buckingham Palace regulars

An unorthodox back four: James poses for a picture with some Buckingham Palace regulars

Receiving his award, James said: 'I am extremely honoured to be receiving an MBE today. It is not an award that one sets out to achieve, making me even more appreciative to those that put my name forward.

'I have had many years playing football, years that have given me tremendous enjoyment. They have also allowed me to get involved in many charitable campaigns, for this, I am very grateful.'

Graeme Jones must stay at Wigan, says Roberto Martinez amid Burnley job link

Jones must stay, says boss Martinez as Burnley eye Wigan No 2 to replace Howe

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UPDATED:

09:15 GMT, 17 October 2012

Roberto Martinez has issued a hands off warning to Burnley as the Wigan manager battles to keep hold of his No 2 Graeme Jones.

The Latics assistant of four years is believed to be on the shortlist of candidates to take over at the Championship club following Eddie Howe's departure to Bournemouth.

Jones was also pursued by former employers Swansea earlier this summer, but Martinez is determined to retain his services at the DW Stadium.

Don't go: Wigan boss Roberto Martinez wants to keep hold of his assistant manager, Graeme Jones

Don't go: Wigan boss Roberto Martinez wants to keep hold of his assistant manager, Graeme Jones

‘It’s always a massive compliment when other clubs see the good work that you are doing at your football club,’ Martinez told the Wigan Evening Post, speaking ahead of this weekend's game against his former club Swansea.

‘That’s the case for players and it also applies for the staff as well, in this case Graeme

'I’m sure he’ll take the rumours on board, but he won’t let it affect his work in preparing for Saturday’s game.

‘It’s something that goes with the territory when you are involved in football.

‘When you do the right things, this sort of thing comes along – the same as when you don’t do the right things, other things come along.

‘What we have to do is keep focused on the job we have to do here, and the goals we have set ourselves to achieve this season.

‘This is a really important time at our football club, and it could turn out to be a significant building block in our legacy as a football club.'

Bournemouth sack Paul Groves and assistant Shaun Brooks

Groves and assistant Brooks axed by Bournemouth after poor start to season

|

UPDATED:

12:31 GMT, 3 October 2012

Axed: Bournemouth have sacked Paul Groves

Axed: Bournemouth have sacked Paul Groves

Bournemouth have parted company with manager Paul Groves and his assistant Shaun Brooks.

Cherries chairman Eddie Mitchell released a statement announcing the departures less than 24 hours after the 3-1 defeat to Crawley, which sent Bournemouth fifth from bottom in npower League One.

In his statement, Mitchell praised the duo for their hard work since taking over in May.

He said: 'I would urge our supporters to recognise the time and effort that Paul and Shaun invested in the first team and their unwavering determination to produce an attractive brand of football.

'As chairman of AFC Bournemouth, I have personally recognised the direction in which they were trying to take the team in terms of tactics and style of play, and throughout their time in charge they have had my full support.

Football League blog

'However, I believe that luck has not been on their side during their short period at the helm. As we know, football is a results business, but most people will be unaware of the hard work and dedication that they put in behind the scenes to help this club move forward.'

He added that both Groves and Brooks personally asked him to thank the fans for the support they gave the management team during their time in charge.

Harry Redknapp doesn"t hold grudge against Daniel Levy over Spurs sacking – Joe Jordan

Harry doesn't hold grudge against Levy over Spurs sacking, insists Jordan

|

UPDATED:

18:39 GMT, 28 September 2012

Joe Jordan insists he and Harry Redknapp hold nothing against Daniel Levy, but the former Tottenham coach admits he did not expect to be sacked over the summer.

Tottenham chairman Levy stunned many in the game in June when he sacked Redknapp and some of his backroom staff, including Jordan, after deciding they were not the right men to take the club forward.

Redknapp and his team had finished fourth, fifth and fourth during their three full seasons at the club, which is why Jordan was not expecting to have his contract terminated.

Given the boot: Harry Redknapp left Tottenham in the summer

Given the boot: Harry Redknapp left Tottenham in the summer

The Scot revealed he only suspected his time at White Hart Lane was coming to an end after contract negotiations between Levy and Redknapp stalled, but he says he does not hold any animosity towards the Spurs chairman.

'Not really,' Jordan said. 'And I don't think Harry does either. He has been long enough in the game to know that was it. You move on.

'(Being sacked) was not something I expected. When I finished the season I can't say I went away thinking our future was in danger, but once the discussion regarding the extension of contracts stalled my point of view changed on it.

'Then it happened very quickly. His contract was terminated and I got word the next day that had happened to myself.'

Jordan has developed a close working relationship with Redknapp since their time together at Portsmouth, with whom they won the FA Cup in 2008.

Redknapp now works as a pundit on Match of the Day and as an advisor to his old club Bournemouth, but his appetite for management has not diminished despite his sacking from Spurs, according to Jordan.

'You can never knock his enthusiasm, hunger and desire to be involved in the game,' said Jordan, who was speaking ahead of ESPN's exclusive coverage of Manchester United v Tottenham.

'We don't know what's around the corner but as an individual he thinks he has a lot to offer football.'

David James signs deal with Bournemouth

Veteran ex-England No 1 James signs deal with Bournemouth to end of season

|

UPDATED:

15:52 GMT, 28 September 2012

Veteran: James last played for Bristol City

Veteran: James last played for Bristol City

Bournemouth have signed former England international goalkeeper David James until the end of the season.

The 42-year-old signed before the 12pm deadline which means he would be available to make his debut against Walsall.

The former Portsmouth keeper joined Paul Groves' squad for training on Thursday and will compete with Shwan Jalal and Daryl Flahavan for a place in the starting line-up.

He had been without a club after being released by Bristol City in the summer.

In a 20-year career, James has also played for Watford, Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham and Man City and earned 53 England caps.

James revealed Groves and former team-mate Richard Hughes helped persuade him to join the npower League One club.

'The experience I had with Grovesy at Portsmouth was invaluable as coming in to a manager who I had no idea about would be scary,' he told the club's official website, www.afcb.co.uk.

'I understand the guy, I like his methodology and I like the way he thinks.'

Former team-mate Hughes joined the Cherries last month and his feedback was also a major factor in James' signing.

He added: 'Hughes joined and was speaking very positively about the club which is always a good indicator when joining a team.'

Harry Redknapp at Huish Park

From White Hart Lane to Huish Park… Redknapp embarks on new Bournemouth role

|

UPDATED:

14:40 GMT, 8 September 2012

A year ago Harry Redknapp was preparing his Tottenham side for the visit of Liverpool, having just guided them to their first win of the Premier League campaign over Wolves.

Fast forward 12 months and the 65-year-old was at Huish Park on Saturday afternoon, taking in Bournemouth's visit to Yeovil Town for the League One clash at the 5,212 capacity stadium.

A year on: Former Spurs boss Redknapp was at Huish Park on Saturday afternoon (left)

A year on: Former Spurs boss Redknapp was at Huish Park on Saturday afternoon (left)

A year on: Former Spurs boss Redknapp was at Huish Park on Saturday afternoon (left)

Redknapp, who was harshly sacked by Tottenham at the end of last season, was unveiled this week in an 'advisory role' at the Cherries – the club who gave him his managerial break way back in 1983.

The specifics of Redknapp's role are unclear, and he has stated he will only return to management with a Premier League club, but he did travel with the team to Somerset for the clash.

New role: Redknapp watches Bournemouth from the stands at Yeovil; and collecting a manager of the year award while at the Cherries back in 1987 (below)

New role: Redknapp watches Bournemouth from the stands at Yeovil; and collecting a manager of the year award while at the Cherries back in 1987 (below)

New role: Redknapp watches Bournemouth from the stands at Yeovil; and collecting a manager of the year award while at the Cherries back in 1987 (below)

Portsmouth face liquidation within weeks, warns administrator

Portsmouth face liquidation within weeks after 3m Kanu wage demand, warns Birch

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UPDATED:

10:06 GMT, 23 July 2012

Portsmouth administrator Trevor Birch has warned that the club could be liquidated 'in two or three weeks'.

The 2008 FA Cup winners are due to start the new season in League One with a 10-point penalty for returning to administration but Birch says the club might be out of business before the big kick-off, against Bournemouth on August 18.

Pompey's first-team squad currently only contains 12 players and one of them, Nwankwo Kanu, has hit the club with a formal 3million demand for back pay.

Wage demand: Nwankwo Kanu

Pompey: Heading out of existence

Clock is ticking: Striker Kanu's (left) demand has added to Pompey's woes

Former owner Balram Chainrai has submitted a takeover offer, conditional on eight senior players leaving or accepting pay cuts, including Tal Ben Haim, who is on a 36,000-per-week contract, and Kanu.

Birch has imposed a 5,000-per-week salary cap to cut costs, with the excess paid once the club avoids liquidation, but the Nigerian forward is digging his heels in over the money owed to him.

'The club is heading for liquidation in just a few weeks, perhaps two weeks if these players don’t leave or compromise on their wages,' Birch told ESPN on Sunday. 'We still have players like Ben Haim, Dave Kitson and Kanu on our books.'

Hands tied: Portsmouth manager Michael Appleton cannot buy any players

Hands tied: Portsmouth manager Michael Appleton cannot buy any players

Birch added: 'Kanu has served the club notice that he wants to leave but before doing so he wants the money he says is owed to him by the club.

'These players hold the survival of the club in their hands.

'I must stress it is not their fault as the players didn’t get the club into this trouble, but they do now have the ability to get the club out of this mess.

'The problem with everybody is that this club has cried wolf so often that no one believes it will happen, no one believes they will go out of business, but they will in two or three weeks.

'It is that serious now. The trouble is “Portsmouth fatigue”, but the truth is that the club is now fighting for its life.'