Harry Redknapp previews Cherries clash
Former Bournemouth manager Harry Redknapp has backed Manchester United to finish in the top four and qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Redknapp is the guest on today’s MUTV Group Chat, which you can watch in full below.
The 73-year-old cut his teeth in management at Saturday’s opponents, famously knocking United out of the FA Cup in 1984 – but he believes his old side will be up against it when they face the resurgent Reds at Old Trafford this weekend.
“I’d be a fool if I said I fancy Bournemouth to get a result. I couldn’t pick many worse games to play at this stage of the season,” Harry told us.
“Man United want that top-four spot. I think Leicester are starting to struggle, there’s a real opportunity now. They’ve really hit a brick wall, haven’t they?
“I certainly see United finishing in the top four this year. They’re in form, they’re playing well, I can’t see them finishing outside of the four. They could even finish third I think, the way it’s looking at the moment.
“Leicester are struggling. I never know what I’m going to get with Chelsea and, as I say, I think Man United will finish in the top four.”
Harry was speaking to us the day after United’s hopes of qualifying for Europe’s premier tournament were boosted, with Leicester and Chelsea both losing, away at Everton and West Ham respectively.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are currently fifth, level on points with in-form Wolves, who Redknapp also thinks could come into the Champions League picture. However, he’s backed United to get over the line and has been impressed with how Ole’s signings have helped galvanise the side in recent months.
“[Wolves] have been amazing, haven’t they? I do like the manager [Nuno Espirito Santo] and the job he’s done has been amazing. They could creep in there. Leicester looked home and hosed and they’re really struggling now and then Wolves, yeah.
“There’s nothing to say they can’t make it. But I think United will be in the top four, I think they’ll push on. They’ve made a couple of signings in the last year or so that have made a big difference. Fernandes and Harry Maguire gave them real backbone. [Aaron Wan-Bissaka]’s come in and done well.
“I saw Ole’s looking for another striker. They’re not easy to find when you’re looking round for top, top players but I reckon maybe with two or three players, they’re going to be a real force in the next year or so.
“I see a massive improvement, I really do. They look a team suddenly. I had big doubts about them early in the season when they had a bad run, but they’ve turned a corner now. Rashford, Greenwood, incredible young players coming through again. The future’s starting to look good.”
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Meanwhile, Harry is less inspired with the form of Saturday’s visitors, who he was still going to watch every week prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Cherries have lost all three of their games since the restart, with Wednesday’s 4-1 home reverse to Newcastle the most damaging defeat yet.
Despite an encouraging start to the campaign, Bournemouth have taken fewer points than any other team in the league since beating United in November, and Redknapp sees them as being part of a three-way battle for safety.
“I can’t believe it. I go to all the games, take my grandkids every week and, earlier in the season, they were playing fantastic football – sharp, quick, great on the counter-attack,” Harry continued.
“Suddenly, they lost their way and last night was the worst I’ve ever seen them. I really fancied them yesterday. I thought if we’re going to get out of this trouble, we need to beat Newcastle. But we never looked like winning the game, it was a real disappointment.
“There’s three or four teams down at the bottom – Watford look the same, Aston Villa. That’s the only saving grace for them at the moment. It looks to me as though Norwich are gone, and it’s going to be two from Villa, Watford and Bournemouth. So we’re bang in trouble.”
Despite Bournemouth’s poor position, Harry is still fully behind manager Eddie Howe, who took the club from the fourth tier and near-bankruptcy to the top-flight for the first time in their history in 2015.
“If they sack Eddie, I would never go to another game! What he has done has just been incredible.
“If you’d have said to me 12, 15 years ago that Bournemouth would be playing in the Premier League one day, I’d have thought you were off your head. What’s happened here has just been beyond belief.
“To do it for the last five years or whatever, and stay in there comfortably has been amazing. So no, I could never imagine Eddie being in trouble, but if he is there’s something wrong with the game for sure.”