Harry Redknapp was very keen to sign Mark Viduka from Middlesbrough last summer, and Harry says he was so close to getting him, until Sam Allardyce took over the reigns at Newcastle.
Harry had already met with Mark in London, and he was very hopeful of getting Viduka to the south coast. Harry rates Mark as a great player and the free agent looked all set for a switch until Sam Allardyce replaced Glenn Roeder as Newcastle boss and quickly hijacked the deal.
Mark Viduka – almost joined Portsmouth in the summer
Sam apparently quickly stepped in and persuaded Mark to join the Magpies and he could stay in the north-east area, which was a big advantage for Mark and his family. This is what Harry said about Mark today:
â€œI tried to get Mark in the summer and was very close. If Sam Allardyce had not gone to Newcastle he would have come to us, definitely. I’ve no doubt about it.â€
â€œMark was very, very interested in coming to us. We had a good meeting in London and it was not a problem.â€ ‘I really wanted him. He’s a good lad and a fantastic footballer.â€
â€œHe got 19 goals for Middlesbrough last season and would have been brilliant for us.â€ â€œHe’s one of the best back-to-goal players around. Like Kanu, he has the ability to hold up the play, bring people into it. He’s a clever footballer.â€
‘I thought it was going to happen as well â€“ but Sam wanted him.â€
â€œGlenn Roeder was not interested when he was there. If he’d stayed at Newcastle then Mark would have been with us right now.â€ ‘He was not in his plans, he didn’t want to sign him.â€ â€œSam did, though, and that did us.â€
However, Harry shouldnâ€™t be too concerned about Mark in tomorrowâ€™s game â€“ heâ€™s not playing. Mark is still trying to shake off a minor calf strain which he picked up nearly 5 weeks ago in our dismal defeat at Manchester City.
Mark has played very well when in the Newcastle team this season, but he doesn’t play enough. That’s one thing Sam will be working on with Mark – to get him fit for more games. Mark has three goals in six games this season for Newcastle, and was an excellent acquisition for us.