Redknapp ready for ‘aggravation’ of England job

Enduring a five-year police investigation and two-week trial

before cleared of tax fraud has prepared Harry Redknapp for the

”aggravation” he knows would face as England coach.

With the European Championship only four months away, the

Tottenham manager is the leading contender to replace Fabio Capello

as head of the national team.

With no certainty that Redknapp can be lured from Tottenham,

English Football Association executives met Friday to form a

shortlist that would likely include other candidates.

”If the opportunity comes, and I get asked, I’ll have to

consider it,” Redknapp said Friday. ”I’d be very surprised if I

didn’t finish the season with Tottenham, that’s for sure.”

The 64-year-old Redknapp has the skills FA chairman David

Bernstein requires of his next coach: strong motivational

qualities, experience handling top players and an ability to

produce exciting soccer.

Redknapp has led Tottenham to third place in the Premier League.

He knows leading the Three Lions would not be easy and is trying to

downplay expectations about his abilities in charge of a national

team without a major trophy since it hosted the 1966 World Cup.

”Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s aggravation,” he said. ”There

have been a lot of great managers since Alf Ramsey, unbelievable

managers. When someone like Capello finds it hard going, it has to

be hard”

Even Bobby Robson found that as he took England to the World Cup

semifinals in 1990.

”He went through some terrible periods. He got slaughtered at

times,” Redknapp said. ”We haven’t really had too much success,

so it shows you what a difficult job it must be. No one has a magic

wand.”

A groundswell of public support for Redknapp gathered after

Capello quit on Wednesday following a disagreement with the FA over

John Terry being stripped of the captaincy.

”It’s nice if people put me in a position where they think I’ve

got a chance of getting the job,” Redknapp said. ”It is

flattering. Other managers have come out and said nice things and I

appreciate everybody’s support really.”

Redknapp, an FA Cup winner as Portsmouth’s manager in 2008, is

the ”right choice,” according to United manager Alex

Ferguson.

”He has the experience and personality and the knowledge of the

game,” said Ferguson, who managed Scotland at the 1986 World Cup.

”He has changed the fortunes of every club he has been at.”

It has been a whirlwind week for Redknapp. Facing a potential

jail sentence on Wednesday morning, by the evening he had been

cleared of tax evasion and installed as the favorite to replace

Capello.

”It was a horrendous period,” Redknapp said. ”The most

draining thing I have been through in my life.”

Had the jury not believed his defense, Redknapp could have been

in prison on Friday rather than speaking to the media ahead of

Tottenham’s match against Newcastle on Saturday.

”I remember getting called in,” he recalled of being told a

verdict had been reached. ”You don’t know what to think. You have

12 people that are going to decide (whether) to finish your life,

basically. It is not a feeling that you would wish on

anybody.”

While son Jamie, a former England national team player, was at

Southwark Crown Court throughout the trial, wife Sandra stayed

away.

”I wouldn’t let her come to court. She couldn’t have handled

it,” Redknapp said. ”It would have killed her, without a

doubt.”

Redknapp was recruited by Tottenham from Portsmouth in 2008

despite the police probe. Seeking their first league title since

1961, Spurs are seven points behind first-place Manchester

City.

Redknapp’s contract runs through the 2012-13 season.

”I can’t take my eye off the ball at Tottenham at the moment

because we’re looking to get Champions League football, we’re still

in the FA Cup and I owe it to them to continue to keep completely

focused on the job I’m doing here,” Redknapp said. ”It wouldn’t

be fair to anybody here if I started to let my thoughts wander

elsewhere.”

England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce will take charge of

England’s exhibition against the Netherlands on Feb. 29. The FA

said another interim coach could be in place for Euro 2012.

Redknapp said the job is too big to be done by a part-timer.

”It is hard enough managing a league club let alone managing

your country. It’s two very difficult jobs,” he said. ”I think

your focus has got to be on one job.”