Date: 25th September 2006 at 2:00pm
Written by:

2 O`clock = My Milan Tribute

How Milan fashion found a new home in Portsmouth

Many people will remember Mr Mandaric for a number of reasons. You could revere him as the saviour of a football club mired in the depths of administration, or appreciate his (sometimes eccentric comments) that proved that he always had the best interest of the club at heart. (The Rupert Lowe / duck incident is going to be of my favourite football anecdotes for the rest of my life.)

But I will best remember him for swallowing his pride and welcoming back Harry Redknapp at a time when the club desperately needed him. I`m not going to get into the debate about whether Redknapp deserved to come back, as I know there are many people out there who will forever hold a grudge for his defection to Southampton.

But what IS true is that it`s unlikely there was a manager out there that could have pulled off the feat that Redknapp did to save our club, and for that I will be forever thankful to Milan. Mandaric made a business decision to bring in Velimir Zajec, and wasn`t prepared to let anyone disagree with that choice. Redknapp may have been the casualty, but it showed that nobody was bigger than Portsmouth Football Club.

Unfortunately the Zajec, and subsequently the Alain Perrin, move backfired spectacularly, and Pompey only survived relegation from the 2004/5 season by the skin of their teeth. Perrin managed to ruin things for the next season, and got the sack just in time.

It was at this point that Mandaric showed his mettle. He used the media well to extend the tentative olive branch to Redknapp, who was enduring a torrid spell at Southampton by this time. It takes a big man to admit he was wrong, especially so publicly, but Milan bit that bullet for the good of the football club. He and Harry reconciled their differences (and stuck it to the Southampton fans at the same time, which feels just a little bit good!)

I don`t need to spell out the great escape and the effect it will have, it`s now ingrained into the soul of each Portsmouth fan. We can now all sit back and witness the dawning of a new era on the hallowed turf of Portsmouth Football Club. I don`t worry about Alexandre Gaydamak, he can`t hurt the club. He was entrusted with the safety of Pompey by the man who is now, and will always be, the Godfather of Fratton Park.

By Gareth Beavis