I would swap my seven years as West Ham boss to have Billy Bonds as a mate again

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Harry RedknappHarry, Harry, Harry. What have you done? What have you been thinking? What did you let your ghost-writer get published? And do you really expect the West Ham faithful to think you’re misunderstood and a decent bloke after all? For those of you unaware, our Harry has had his new autobiography serialised in The Daily Mail recently and the excerpts of his ghost-written book show you a man believing his own hype, cruelly under-estimated and over-looked for the bigger jobs. A man, who as manager, loved the game so much that he only wanted the best for the side he was in charge of, for no personal gain whatsoever.

Fans of Bournemouth, Southampton and Portsmouth that I spoke to, find this difficult to believe, with Harry leaving them when it suited him, and often not in as good a financial state as when he took over. This can be blamed on both the respective chairmen of the clubs, and Harry’s persuasive nature, to buy and pay the players he best saw for his vision. But as a man who was in love with football and only wanted to succeed, he was only thinking of his future. So therefore, as an ambitious man, it must have been a heart-wrenching decision to take the West Ham job from his best friend Billy Bonds. Luckily, despite never really touching on it in his first autobiography, Harry felt an enormous amount of remorse in taking the job.

The headline reads ‘I would swap my seven years as West Ham boss to have Billy Bonds as a mate again.’ A very noble statement from Harry, especially when you consider that for years it has been alleged that Harry may have stabbed Bonzo in the back. Therefore, with such a statement from Redknapp, it goes without saying that you expect him to heap praise on his lost friend.

‘In the Premier League world of modern football, he was increasingly a man out of time. I became Billy’s No 2 after West Ham had been relegated, bottom of Division One with a stupidly low points tally. They were a shambles. Bill was upset that I said it publicly, but the club was too easy-going’

Ok, maybe not, and in this quote is a veiled admission that he went behind Bonzo’s back. Also ‘stupidly low points tally’ is not the most favourable thing to say about the management style of a friend you’re trying to build bridges with. But then the story continues, as noted above West Ham have been relegated and Harry has been drafted in to help Bonzo. Unfortunately, it’s not all plain sailing as Harry feels necessary to reveal

‘There was a lot of anger about. The fans were not having the players at all. It was spiteful and the players were scared’

I know this was about twenty years ago, but I remember the fans taking to the players around that time and West Ham getting promoted. Maybe Harry doesn’t. Maybe he doesn’t remember Billy getting manager of the month, and West Ham fans singing his name in appreciation. Or despite the two losses in opening three games, then going on a run and not losing until late October which included a 6-0 win at home to Sunderland and away wins in the westcountry that saw a 4-0 victory at Bristol Rovers and a 5-1 triumph over Rovers’ neighbours Bristol City. Or the unbeaten run in the league of December 12th to March 13th. Either way, for the players to be so scared, they did a good job of not letting it show on the pitch.

‘Still, we won promotion but Bill had a disdain for the modern game. He wasn’t enjoying it. Then I was offered the chance to go back to Bournemouth to manage. When I told the chairman, he offered me the West Ham job! Billy was offered a director of football role, with a 10-year contract’

So there we go, it wasn’t Harry’s fault. We gained promotion, Bonzo had fallen out of love with the game, and Mr. Brown needed Harry to take us to the next level now we were a top-flight side. Interesting claim again by Harry, especially when Bill actually managed our first season back up in the Premiership, but let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good story!

Speaking in the manner he does about Bonzo, Harry comes across as his biggest fan yet never accepting the blame for the breakdown of their friendship. Whilst he could have explained the situation either at the time or in his first autobiography, he didn’t. Billy has consistently kept a dignified silence, with many people inside and outside the club wanting his side of the story. Harry however has been dogged by the persistent stories of betrayal and back-stabbing which he has furiously denied. If Bonzo did fall out of love with football, a ‘disdain for the modern game’, then maybe it was due to this double-cross.

Harry of course is a paragon of virtue and a role model, bleating about his shock at not being England manager to anyone who cares to listen; he will also recount his hilarious footballing stories with passion and vigour. One statement from the serialisation reads ‘I told one player my bulldogs would bite him where it hurts if he tried to get away – the next day he agreed to sign for Pompey!’

Certainly makes you wonder why the FA overlooked him…


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  • Spence55 says:

    Billy must be riled to have spoken out after all this time. He is a real man of integrity and honour and has kept his silence until now. I don’t think Harry and Billy will be organising lunch anytime soon !

  • emptypockets says:

    Harry talks bollocks!

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