Sheffield Wednesday: Milan counts on beating Harry

Milan Mandaric and Harry Redknapp during their time at Portsmouth
Milan Mandaric and Harry Redknapp during their time at Portsmouth
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Milan Mandaric and Harry Redknapp are good friends - but the Owls chairman hopes to upset his old pal on Saturday.

Mandaric has already told QPR manager Redknapp that he is counting on a win when the clubs clash at Loftus Road.

“I have a lot of time for Harry,” Mandaric told The Star. “He is a friend and a top coach and manager; I wish him well but not for the first game of the season.”

The two keep in touch and have spoken to each other this week.

“We had a chat, just catching up with each other,” added the Wednesday chief. “I told him we are counting on three points on Saturday!”

But Mandaric also knows that it will be a test for the Owls.

“QPR have come down from the Premier League but they have quality. Harry is going to sort it out and put together a very good team.

“They’ll be very strong contenders next season - there’s nothing more challenging and exciting than the chance to beat them on Saturday!”

As a mere spectator, Redknapp sat between Mandaric and vice-chairman Paul Aldridge when the Owls won 2-1 at Millwall in April.

“He just came to see that game,” added Milan. “I’m still disappointed he didn’t get the England job. and not because he is a friend: in my book he would have been more creative.

“He knows his business, I think he is among the top five English managers. But to be honest, I always like the manager I have, more than anything else, and think of him as the best: Dave Jones is a very good, experienced manager who is easy to work with. Whatever he does, it is what is best for the club.”

Mandaric hopes the Owls can improve on last season, when they finished 18th after struggling up to December then staging a revival.

He said: “Last season was like two seasons for us, really: one of relegation (form), one of promotion (form). We want to give Dave support and see how far we can go this season.”

QPR defender Danny Simpson expects Saturday’s game to be “tricky” for his team.

He said: “The first few games are always difficult because, though you’ve put a lot of work in during pre-season, you are still trying to get full match sharpness.

“But it’s a fresh start for everyone and we’re all looking forward to it.”

The Owls’ new home kit and home shirt sponsor will be revealed in public at Hillsborough tomorrow (11.45am) when fans, to be seated in the North Stand, will also be able to watch a training session.