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By ESPN Staff

Harry aims to complete Pompey transformation

Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp hopes to complete the transformation of the south coast club from paupers to princes in Saturday's FA Cup final at Wembley.

When they leave their plush pre-match hotel, a stone's throw from Windsor Castle, for the short trip to the new national stadium to face Cardiff, the team, the manager, his staff and all the club's officials will be able to reflect that the bad old days of struggle and strife are firmly behind them.

A second consecutive top-10 finish in the Barclays Premier League surely suggests the foundations are now in place for Pompey to go from strength to strength and convince their fans that with owner Alexandre Gaydamak's continued investment - which includes a new training ground next year plus solid plans for a new stadium to replace tumbledown Fratton Park - they really are going places at last.

Key to it all, though, is Redknapp's shrewd stewardship, and at 61 he is still the energy that drives Portsmouth and demands the right to do it his way.

His way has proved a massive success during his two stints at the club, but Redknapp remains adamant that there is nothing magical about his footballing alchemy.

'I can't come into clubs and put my hand on players like I'm God and say `I'll make you a genius',' he said.

'I'm not clever enough for that. Nobody is, but what I can do is replace players who are not good enough with ones that can take us where we want to go.

'I'm always trying to improve the squad and I'm sorry you have to move players on and get ones that are better. It's a continuing process.

'That's all that management is about - signing the right players and recognising when their time has come.

'It is something dear old Alec Stock, then manager of Fulham, taught me years ago in my first week in the job.

'These lads we have now are a great bunch, a pleasure to work with, but they need to win this trophy on Saturday and make themselves heroes in history.

'Whatever happens it has been a great season despite losing four matches in a row (in the Premier League) right at the end. That was disappointing but it won't matter a bit if we win the cup.

'Not even Europe will matter then - not until later. It will be great to get into the UEFA Cup just for the sake of it but right now I'm concentrating on just this one game.'

Redknapp knows that while building the club's infrastructure is still a work in progress, he must ensure that standards stay high on the field.

Now it is time for Pompey's first major trophy since skipper Jimmy Guthrie led Jack Tinn's team to a shock 4-1 win over Wolves in 1939.

Jermain Defoe, is cup-tied having played 70 minutes for Tottenham in the competition before his move in January.

But despite the absence of his £7.5million striker, Redknapp knows he has some tough decisions ahead.

'I might have to disappoint one or two lads who have played in previous rounds when I pick the team. That will be hard,' he admitted.

'Our best form this season had been when we've played 4-5-1 but it's not about systems really. It's about how systems suit us.

'We've mixed it up a bit with Jermain, who suits 4-4-2, coming in but lately our form in the league hasn't been good, and he can't play at Wembley.

'But I know what I'm going to do, it's just that I don't want to tell anybody just yet, don't want to show my hand too early to Cardiff's Dave Jones - a smashing manager and a smashing man.'

He added: 'It's great for the players and great for me. I go to the cup final nearly every year. Now at last I'm part of it.

'But it will only be a good day if we win. That's what I want so I can look forward to a good summer after what's been a tough year personally for me and my family.

'But they will all be there at Wembley, including six grandchildren all in their Pompey shirts. I think it will lift my wife Sandra (who has recently lost her twin sister, Pat Lampard) as well if we can win it.

'In fairness I thought, like everybody else, that if Chelsea and Manchester United kept apart it would be that final again this year but we went to Old Trafford, had a bit of luck and won.

'Lucky, of course, because if you think you are going to beat United without a bit of luck then you are just dreaming but we've had hard matches in every round and I've no reason to think it will be any different in the final.'