Harry Redknapp signs on to take Birmingham to the Premier League
Veteran manager who saved Blues from relegation has agreed to stay on as permanent manager next season
Harry Redknapp has officially signed on as the new manager of Birmingham City after helping them avoid the drop this season.
Redknapp took over at the Championship side with three games left this season and the team facing relegation to League One. But he won two of those matches to keep the Blues in the division.
The 70-year-old, who has managed teams including Spurs, West Ham, Portsmouth and Southampton, "will now try to oversee a promotion push next season", says Sky Sports.
The end-of-season performances under Redknapp, including a victory over promotion-chasing Huddersfield in which the Blues played with ten men for most of the match, were in stark contrast to those under Gianfranco Zola, who oversaw two wins in 24 matches before he was fired.
Redknapp concluded contract negotiations this week and has signed a one-year permanent deal at St Andrew's. He will work under former Real Madrid scout Jeff Vetere, who was named Blues' director of football on Wednesday, reports Sky.
Many believe Birmingham could prosper under Redknapp. The veteran "injected confidence into a club that had little reason to smile in the previous four months", says Shane Ireland of the Birmingham Mail.
"The self-belief of the squad had visibly improved no end after Redknapp walked through the door, and his presence across pre-season should only further that effect."
He has also "galvanised the fans", who were devastated by the way the season had gone since Christmas. "Redknapp seems to have changed the whole dynamic. No longer is there a fractured relationship between the dugout and the stands."
Turning Birmingham into Premier League contenders will not be easy but his nous in the transfer market could be key. "Astute signings that genuinely improve the side are required, and that doesn't mean that Blues need a great volume of arrivals, or that those players are signed for megabucks," says Ireland.
Money will be made available for Redknapp though, says the Daily Mail. "The Chinese owners were hugely impressed by Redknapp finding two wins from his three games in charge and are ready to invest in the playing squad for a push at promotion next season. The former Tottenham manager has already been contacted by Premier League clubs interested in placing promising young players on loan at Birmingham."