surinenglish

"You'd like to see more English players going abroad and learning a different culture"

Sandro Morelli with Harry Redknapp on Sunday.
Sandro Morelli with Harry Redknapp on Sunday. / Rafael Álvarez
  • Harry Redknapp, Football manager, The former Spurs, West Ham and Birmingham manager was in Marbella to support Villa Tiberio's Guy Fawkes Night Charity Party on Sunday

Glitz, glamour and philanthropy came together on Sunday night as Marbella showed its charitable side, raising much-needed funds for charity as part of the Guy Fawkes Night Charity Party held at Villa Tiberio.

Among the many familiar faces on the night was Harry Redknapp, a close friend of the restaurant's owner Sandro Morelli. Despite his wife being unable to attend because of illness, Harry dropped in to support Morelli, who he describes as a “dear friend and a fantastic man who gives his time for charity”.

We spoke to Redknapp during the event, which raised money for both Children With Cancer UK and the Cudeca Foundation, about his biggest love - football.

You turned 70 this year, do you think you've got another management job left in you?

If something good came along that was interesting, I would do it.

You're not long out of the Birmingham City hotseat but you're already being linked with a lot of jobs - Sunderland and Scotland just to name two.

I can't see any of it, really. It's not coming from me, that's for sure. It's only speculation.

It seems you can't stay away from football. You're an advisor now, as well as a pundit?

I'm not that involved, really. Suddenly they're saying 'oh he's helping Yeovil' but I only went down to spend a day with the young manager there, Darren Way. Other than that I'm not really involved at all. I do some TV work and when I've got spare time I go and watch Bournemouth play.

Having worked behind the scenes a few times now, can you now see the merits of a continental model with a director of football? [Redknapp once described the role as a “joke”.]

If it works. Some clubs have got it and it doesn't work for them. The director of football and the manager have got to be singing off the same hymn sheet otherwise it's a problem. But at the end of the day, the manager's got to have the final say on signing players.

You've got quite a reputation for your dealings in the transfer market, but what is your biggest regret?

Probably not signing [Eden] Hazard. I met him in France and wanted to bring him to Tottenham. He could've made a difference, I felt. For whatever reason the deal didn't get done.

Your former player Rafael van der Vaart said there wasn't much work put into tactics under you. Do you think the likes of Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino are overcomplicating what is essentially a simple game?

No - I think they're two fantastic managers. But listen, you're only as good as your players. We can all kid ourselves but the top six teams in England have got the best players.

With such a strong top six, is the Premier League the best in the world? How does La Liga compare?

The top six teams in England are excellent but after that there's nothing special. It's a competitive league and the games are good but outside of Liverpool, Man United, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham... we haven't got great teams. The quality of football isn't fantastic; it's good, but is it better than the Spanish? I don't know. Are Real Madrid and Barcelona better than any of our teams? Probably. Is it the best league in the world? I wouldn't like to say!

Could, or perhaps should, Dele Alli and Harry Kane have a stab at Real Madrid?

Not at the moment. They're big players at Tottenham; it's a good club to be at and they're enjoying their football.

If they were to move, the figures would be astronomical.

I couldn't put a price tag on them two boys.

Do you think English players generally would benefit from spending time abroad?

You'd like to see more of them go abroad and learn a different culture, a different football. I say a different football, but every coach in England is foreign anyway!

Do you think bargains can still be found in this climate?

Absolutely! I still think there's some fantastic bargains to be found in the lower divisions. Dele Alli came from MK Dons in League One. Someone took a gamble on him - five million pounds, what a bargain! People don't take the chance.

The same applies for managers.

Absolutely. It's a shame.

David Moyes and Gary Neville were given chances at Real Sociedad and Valencia, respectively, and it didn't go so well for them. How do you think you would get on in Spain?

I don't know if I'd've fared better - it depends what team you've got, doesn't it? How good the players are. I'm sure if they'd've gone to Real Madrid or Barcelona, they'd've done well.

You famously backed Frank Lampard at a young age. Are there any of the current crop you back for a big future?

I also said Rio Ferdinand would become the best centre half in Europe when he was 16 and he did! [Laughs.] Alli and Kane are the obvious ones. Outside of them, [the England] under 17s have just won the World Cup; the under 19s, the under 20s are good. There are players there if someone gives them the opportunity to play at the top level.

How do you see England getting on at the World Cup in the summer?

I don't know. Every year I back England and come unstuck. We're probably still short of real quality in midfield. People that can control football matches.

It's a role you coveted for a long time, but what do you think of the current manager?

I hope Gareth [Southgate] does well. He's got an opportunity - he was fortunate to get it when Sam went. He's a nice guy.

Who is the one player you would have loved to manage?

Ronaldo? Messi? They would do me!