Harry Redknapp continues to be in a state of denial about the true shape of his Queen Park Rangers side. The expensively assembled group of players have underachieved and lacked real squad cohesion away from home all season. Having been backed since his appointment in December 2012 by QPR Chairman Tony Fernandes, Redknapp’s reckless spending has yielded the R’s little in the way of upward progression.
Redknapp took control of QPR during the ill-fated 2012-13 season, and quickly declared that:
“There are a lot of players at this club who earn far too much money. Far too much for their ability and what they give to the club. I don’t really want to see the owners have their pants taken down like they have in the past.”
Weeks later when the January window opened, Redknapp had convinced Fernandes — who generously backed previous manager Mark Hughes to spend big even though the Rs were rooted to the foot of the table. In came big money signings Chris Samba, Djbril Cisse, Loic Remy and out went any pretense of sanity.
Remy was signed thanks to Redknapp and Fernandes’ willingness to reportedly double the wages offered by Newcastle. Ironically, Redknapp had told the BBC just weeks earlier:
“I fined a player last week and he was earning more than any player earned at Tottenham. You shouldn’t be paying massive wages when you’ve got a stadium that holds 18,000 people. Newcastle holds 52,000 and most of their players will be nowhere near some of the wages some of the players are earning here.”
After dropping to the Championship that summer, Redknapp bought Charlie Austin and Matty Phillips — arguably the two most sought after players in that division as well as a handful of Premier League castoffs. The R’s had the largest wage bill in the history of the Championship, reportedly as much as 50 times higher than the clubs near the bottom of the table. Yet, Redknapp’s QPR team struggled for promotion, having to challenge via the playoffs and needing a goal against the run of play by Bobby Zamora against Derby to return to the top flight.
QPR’s 2013-2014 Championship squad was so bloated that had they been in the Premier League, they would have had to have left senior players off the 25-man league squad. Even with the inflated and deep squads Manchester City and Chelsea have, neither club faced this dilemma in the Premier League.
After getting promoted via the playoff final, Redknapp even had the gall to claim that his team exceeded expectations despite his squad being “decimated” in the previous summer transfer window:
“We got rid of 18 players in the summer (of 2013) and a lot of them were very good players. The squad got decimated because we had to cut the wage bill so I never felt that it was a team certain to go up. At the start of the year, I would have took the play-offs.”
This season, Rangers have struggled away from Loftus Road, as well as getting knocked out of the FA Cup by Sheffield United, but Redknapp has made excuses. Following the 2-1 defeat at Turf Moor vs. Burnley on Saturday, Redknapp talked as if his team was overachieving claiming that they had finished well behind the Clarets and Leicester City last season yet were competitive with them this season in the Premier League. What he failed to acknowledge is that neither club spent wildly in the summer, while Rangers continued to buy players, bringing in more than 10 footballers.
Redknapp also lamented the inability to buy new players saying they can only take guys on loan this January. Claiming he’s out of options up front, Redknapp pulled out-of-favor Adel Taarabt straight from the u-21 side into the mix on Saturday, and the Moroccan performed admirably. Taarabt’s performance further undermines Redknapp’s case because with QPR’s deep squad and high wages, plenty of quality sits on the fringes of the squad. It can be argued QPR has stronger bench options than Southampton who currently sit third in the league.
Yet Redknapp continues to make excuses (see video below). Known for his extravagant spending throughout his management career, he will have to make do with this squad the second half of the season.
The need to actually tactically manage the squad and figure out a way to get results away from home makes Redknapp a poor candidate to keep QPR in the Premier League. The potential financial implosion QPR will face if they go down this season has to weigh on Fernandes’ mind every single day. Since the manager won’t change his style and has consistently underachieved with this squad of players, the time to make a management change is now before the close of the January window.
The QPR chairman, who is also the chairman of Air Asia, has had a rough holiday period but a management change at Rangers could liven some of the mood. A big question remains whether Fernandes believes that without Redknapp he cannot attract players to QPR or keep this squad together? That might be the only reason Arry’ is still employed at Loftus Road.
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