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Feb, 1, 2012

Redknapp: My mind was on Beckham

Harry Redknapp lost his cool at his tax evasion trial on Wednesday as he shouted at a detective for "staring'' and told jurors he was more worried about David Beckham than dealing with his Monaco bank account.

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The Tottenham Hotspur manager told a jury: "I am a fantastic football manager not a hard-headed businessman''. But there were fierce exchanges with prosecutors as he took to the stand for the first time.

Redknapp, 64, interrupted proceedings to vent his anger at Detective Inspector Dave Manley. Turning his head across the room at Southwark Crown Court, Redknapp said: "Mr Manley, will you please stop staring at me. I know you are trying to cause me a problem, OK.''

Redknapp said "I've got no business acumen whatsoever'' after telling jurors how his mind was on Beckham while he signed off a six-figure bank transfer from Monaco to the US account of his co-accused Milan Mandaric. He said he hired the best accountants in London to keep his books and prevent any tax problems.

Redknapp said: "I have always paid my taxes. I've always gone to the best available people... I have always paid too much tax rather than not enough."

When asked about the day he opened the account in the name of his dog, Rosie, Redknapp replied: "It would be a waste of time giving me forms, because I would have probably left them on a deck chair when me and Sandra went to the beach in the afternoon.''

Redknapp described his relationship with Mandaric, claiming he often acted as Mandaric's chauffeur on his arrival at Portsmouth.

"There was no one in the world I would rather be with,'' Redknapp said. "We had our ups and downs, I was a bit volatile perhaps. (But) even now I love his company. I would be like his chauffeur... we spent hours upon hours upon hours together, I didn't get involved at the football club, on the training ground with the manager, it was me and Milan everywhere.''

Redknapp said he was reluctant when Mandaric suggested he opened a Monaco account at the centre of £189,000 bung allegations. John Kelsey-Fry QC, representing Redknapp, asked him about fall outs between the pair. Redknapp said the dispute centred on a coach who Mandaric wanted to sack. "I said, 'if he goes I go' and it all got a little bit out of hand from there,'' Redknapp added.

Redknapp was on a basic salary of £300,000 not including bonuses, jurors heard. He said he was owed 10% for the £3 million profit Portsmouth made on the sale of Peter Crouch. But Redknapp was told "to get on with my job'' when he raised the issue with then Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie.

Redknapp added: "Morally I was due the bonus, although, legally I wasn't - I always related it to that... It wasn't my Crouch bonus as it wasn't in my contract.''

Redknapp said the initial signing of Crouch for £1.25 million from Queens Park Rangers "was a joint effort'' and his first since agreeing terms to his job as director of football at Portsmouth. He said Crouch was not the sort of player Mandaric was brought up to appreciate.

"Crouchy at 6ft 7in was not his cup of tea,'' Redknapp said. "He said 'you'll owe me 10% instead of me owing you', adding: "It was my first signing to the club and I don't think he was impressed by my judgment at that time.''

When Crouch was sold on to Aston Villa for more than £4 million, Redknapp said he felt he was due 10%. "I don't think I was being greedy,'' Redknapp said. "When it came around I thought, 'I've done well here'. Not just me ... it was a good signing.''

Redknapp added: "I spoke to Milan and he said 'Harry you are due 5% ... concentrate on the football ... get us promoted and get on with your job."

There was laughter as Mr Kelsey-Fry said Redknapp's success in football was "much to the displeasure'' of Mandaric's QC Lord Ken Macdonald. Redknapp, looking over the rim of his glasses, said: "Well he's an Arsenal supporter isn't he?''

Both former Portsmouth boss Redknapp, of Dorset, and Mandaric, 73, of Leicestershire, deny two counts of cheating the public revenue. Redknapp will continue giving evidence on Thursday.

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