Redknapp baffled by Ashley hate

Ashley has always been a controversial figure on Tyneside ever

since he paid £135million to take over the club in 2007. He

was initially hailed for saving Newcastle from their financial

woes, but he soon found himself a pariah figure for the way he

handled the exit of hugely popular manager Kevin Keegan. His two

unsuccessful attempts to sell the club did him no favours and the

£35million sale of Andy Carroll to Liverpool, and the

subsequent departure of other key players, made Ashley even more of

a hate figure at the club. He has, however, found a sympathiser in

Redknapp, who ahead of Sunday’s game against the Magpies praised

the Newcastle owner for investing money into the club, and for the

appointment of manager Alan Pardew, who has led the club to fourth

in the table thanks to a seven-match unbeaten run so far this

season. “To be honest the chairman has had some grief up there and

he’s put millions and millions of pounds in to the club,” said

Redknapp, who turned down the Newcastle manager’s job a year before

Ashley bought the club. “Alan Pardew has done a great job as

manager. They look a strong outfit at the moment. “(Pardew’s

predecessor) Chris (Hughton) went up there and did well, got them

promoted. Obviously Mike Ashley wanted a change and Alan has gone

there and done a great job. “The chairman’s spent fortunes up there

and they’re still shouting and moaning. He’s spent about

£100million and they’re still calling him names.” Redknapp

takes his team to St. James’ Park on the back of a four-match

winning streak that has dragged the club from the bottom of the

table to sixth, with a game in hand on their rivals. Key to the

club’s revival has been the form of the Spurs defence, and in

particular that of fit-again captain Ledley King. King missed most

of last season with a serious groin injury and he was also troubled

by the chronic knee problems that have dogged him throughout his

career. Redknapp has hailed the defender’s influence on the side

and hopes that he will remain injury-free for the rest of the

campaign. The Spurs boss said: “Ledley defies all belief. He comes

in and goes in the medical room, does a bit on the bike or

something and that’s it, he doesn’t come out and play football with

the rest of the lads in training because it takes four or five days

for his knee to go down because it swells up so bad. “He can just

come out and play on a weekend. It’s crazy in today’s Premier

League. I’m just hoping he’ll be fit to play because he’s just an

amazing player. “He gives you an air of confidence knowing he’s

there and that’s how I feel when he plays. He’s like Alan Hansen

was when he played for Liverpool. “Younes Kaboul had a disastrous

two games at the start of the season, but since he’s been playing

alongside Ledley it just seems that Ledley has sorted him out.”

King’s lack of training has cost him what Redknapp thinks could

have been a stellar international career. King has only played 19

times for England throughout his career and, though he was named in

Fabio Capello’s 2010 World Cup squad, he did not play after

suffering a groin injury while in South Africa. Redknapp, who is

favourite to take over from Capello next summer, rates King as one

of the best centre-halves in England but thinks the 31-year-old is

unlikely to play for the Three Lions again. “He’s as good as any

defender in the country. He’s a smashing boy as well ,” Redknapp

said. “(But) I think that (his international career) would be gone.

They took that risk last year and it didn’t work out for them.”