• Ukrainian FA praises former Tottenham manager
• Job already turned down by Andriy Shevchenko
Five months after leaving Tottenham Hotspur, Harry Redknapp could be making an extraordinary return to football as manager of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Football Federation has been seeking a new manager since Oleh Blokhin resigned last month to take charge of Dynamo Kyiv, and announced on Tuesday that it will open negotiations with Redknapp's representatives.
Redknapp is known to be keen to return to management and has been strongly linked with QPR, whose manager Mark Hughes is under pressure after taking only four points from the opening 12 games of the season.
Given Redknapp has previously dismissed reported interest from Newcastle United and Ipswich Town on the grounds that they are too far from his home on the south coast, there are understandable doubts as to whether he would be prepared to take up an opportunity 1700 miles from Bournemouth. It may be that the main impact of the FFU statement is to force QPR's hand.
There is little doubt, though, that the interest from Ukraine is genuine. "In my opinion, Redknapp has a high reputation among the players of the national team," said Mikhail Fomenko, a former Dynamo Kyiv player who is now the chairman of the national teams and coaching council at the FFU.
"He has enough experience, coaching talent and ability to motivate players. At every team he has headed, Redknapp has quickly improved the quality of their play game and made significant progress. In the modern game, he is an expert, one of the best English coaches."
Redknapp had been linked with the job in some of Tuesday morning's papers, prompting predictable criticism from the old guard of Ukrainian coaching including Valeriy Lobanovskyi's former assistant Oleh Bazylevych and the former Lobanovskyi player and Dynamo Kyiv coach Josef Szabo. "We have strong domestic coaches," Szabo said. "I don't understand why we would look to a foreigner who might not understand our culture."
Given the enduring status of Lobanovskyi and Ukraine's understandable pride in its coaching heritage, it is far from certain that fans would accept a foreign appointment and it may be that by making their interest public, the FFU is seeking to test the public mood.
It has already failed in an attempt to persuade Andriy Shevchenko, who retired in the summer to move into politics and golf, to take over from Blokhin. The preferred local candidate seems to be Oleksandr Zavarov, another former Lobanovskyi player who spent two seasons in Italy with Juventus. He has managerial experience with Metalist Kharkiv and Arsenal Kyiv.
Should Redknapp take the job, it raises the intriguing possibility of him facing England, who of course chose Roy Hodgson rather than the then-Tottenham manager as Fabio Capello's replacement, in a World Cup qualifier next September.Jonathan Wilson
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