Harry Redknapp’s ‘fantastic Stoke City job offer’ he turned down


Stoke City fan and author David Lee has stumbled on a 29-year-old cutting which conjures up an image of alternative universe.

Back in the summer of 1991, Stoke’s board led by chairman Peter Coates were on the look out for a new permanent manager to replace Alan Ball.

The task was clear but it was huge: the Potters had just finished 14th in the third tier, the lowest position in the club’s long history, and needed energising and putting firmly back on the right path.

Coates interviewed three candidates and offered the job to one, who he has never named, before he found out Lou Macari was available from Birmingham. An ‘embarrassing’ phone call later, it was Macari they wanted – and Macari delivered a Wembley victory then promotion as he galvanised the club.

But who were the ones that got away?

One of those interviewed was then-Bournemouth chief Harry Redknapp.

Redknapp explained in Dave’s cutting: “I went to Stoke, they’re a sleeping giant. They can get 14-15,000 crowds if they’re only doing fair in the third division.

“I was feeling a bit frustrated at the time (at Bournemouth) and I went and spoke to them and they made me a fantastic offer. It really was a superb offer.

“But I just felt I couldn’t leave here. There’s something about this club that keeps me here.”

He added: “The Southampton thing (potential job) came up. Everybody said I was favourite but no, I didn’t get involved in that one at all. I just kept out of the way.”

Redknapp left Bournemouth the following summer to become assistant manager to Billy Bonds at West Ham, replacing him in the top job in 1994.

He would be replaced at Bournemouth by one Tony Pulis, who was in the home dug out at Dean Court on the day Macari was joined by Stoke kit man Neil Baldwin – dressed as a chicken.

The Stoke City management team at Bournemouth in 1992/93.

Coates has always looked back fondly on the arrival of Macari.

Yet at the press conference for his grand unveiling he just wasn’t there. Instead Peter Coates held up two photographs of Macari for the Sentinel to take a picture for that evening’s back page.

The problem was that Macari hadn’t yet officially resigned at Birmingham, where he had replaced Dave Mackay on a non-contract basis the previous January. The cash raised with a Leyland Daf Cup win at Wembley pretty much stopped the club going under.

The chairman later recalled: “We interviewed three other people, all good people, and we made a decision on which one we wanted. Then I got a call from someone acting on behalf of Lou Macari who said he wanted to leave Birmingham.

“Immediately, he was the guy I wanted. He jumped the queue, even though we had interviewed three other people and offered the job to one of them, so I was in an awkward and embarrassing situation.

“I met Lou in London. We’d had a good meeting and he wanted to come, but couldn’t come straight away because Birmingham were at Wembley.

“So I took a chance and had to tell the person I’d offered the job to. I said, ‘Sorry, but we’ve changed our mind.’ We took the gamble and it paid off. Lou was an exceptionally good manager for Stoke City.

“You have to get the best out of your players and he always did that. He liked to get the ball up front early, and he knew the players to play the way he wanted and he was very effective.

“One of my biggest disappointments was losing him to Celtic because I thought we were on our way. Under him, we would have got promoted to the top division, I’m certain.”





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