Abramovich doesn`t know who I am, says Redknapp

London: Chelsea`s "hire them and fire them" owner Roman Abramovich has a fan in Harry Redknapp, even if the Tottenham Hotspur manager says the Russian billionaire does not even recognise him.

Redknapp takes his side to Chelsea on Saturday (1245 GMT) with the hosts scrapping for a place in the top four - a unique situation at this stage of the season for Abramovich who bought the club in 2003 and has won three Premier League titles.

Roberto Di Matteo is the eighth manager to sit in the hot seat in nine years and the Italian is merely a stand-in after Andre Villas-Boas was sacked earlier this month.

"Abramovich is football mad," Redknapp told reporters on Friday. "I`ve seen the man there, he`s not going to accept anything but winning, he loves to win.”

"I sat very close to him the other day (against Napoli) and you can see he`s not a chairman with no interest in the football.”

"He`s always there, he doesn`t miss a game. Having said that, I don`t think he knew who I was," added Redknapp.

Abramovich has been criticised for the rate in which he gets rid of managers, particularly his treatment of Carlo Ancelotti who parted company with the club at the end of last season, a year after claiming the Premier League and FA Cup double.

Redknapp, however, believes Chelsea fans will be thanking the Russian again next season when he splashes more cash to overhaul a squad that has underachieved this term.

Asked whether fifth-placed Chelsea`s struggles could be blamed on Abramovich`s lack of patience, Redknapp launched a defence of the Russian.


"Chelsea will spend heavily again in the summer and will challenge for the title again next season," said Redknapp who is hoping his fourth-placed team can open an eight-point lead over their London rivals on Saturday.

"Ancelotti did a good job there. I liked him, he was a smashing guy, but they changed things around, some new players came in and they haven`t hit the form they thought they would.”

"He (Abramovich) is not going to accept fighting for fourth. They are still in the Champions League remember," he added referring to next week`s quarter-final against Benfica.

Spurs are without a victory at Stamford Bridge since 1990 but Redknapp said that was not worrying his players - especially laid back Cameroonian left back Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

"If I said to Benni we haven`t won at Chelsea since 1990 he wouldn`t have a clue," he explained. "He doesn`t even know we`re playing Chelsea tomorrow until I tell him.”

"He just turns up and plays. It could be Arsenal or Chelsea."

Bureau Report

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