LONDON – Harry Redknapp, one of English soccer’s most charismatic coaches, was back in management at age 70 on Tuesday when he was hired by relegation-threatened second-tier team Birmingham.
Redknapp’s last managerial role in England was at Queens Park Rangers, which he quit in February 2015 because he was about to undergo knee replacement surgery. He has since worked as an adviser at second-tier Derby and as coach of Jordan for two games.
Redknapp replaced Gianfranco Zola, the former Italy forward who resigned on Monday with Birmingham just three points above the League Championship relegation zone with three games remaining.
Redknapp said he has agreed to be Birmingham’s coach until the end of the season, adding on British radio station TalkSport: “If I can keep them up, then we can sit down and talk about going forward.”
Birmingham was last in the Premier League in 2011, the same year it won the English League Cup. Redknapp has previously earned promotion to the top flight with Portsmouth and QPR.
His first game in charge of the central English club will be at local rival Aston Villa on Sunday.
Redknapp, known for giving interviews through his car window and for his nous in the transfer market, was once trumpeted as a potential England manager because of his impressive spell at Tottenham, which he led into the Champions League in 2010.
“I got fed up sitting around doing nothing,” Redknapp said about his decision to get back into soccer.
“I got a phone call last night from the people at Birmingham. I drove to London, had a meeting for 10 to 15 minutes, sat down and said, ‘Yeah, I will do it, no problem.’ I got home and my wife said: ‘Are you mad?’ “
Birmingham was three points and one place off the League Championship’s playoff positions in December when the club fired manager Gary Rowett and replaced him with Zola, apparently wanting a higher-profile coach.
Under Zola, Birmingham won just two of 24 games.
“I am sorry because I came to Birmingham with huge expectations,” Zola said. “It is not that I like quitting, but Birmingham deserves better.”
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80