In 2014, when QPR secured promotion against Derby with a late Bobby Zamora goal in the Championship play-off final, much of the spotlight was focused on a return to the top flight for good old ‘Arry Redknapp.
Depending on who you believe, Redknapp is either the greatest English manager never to actually manage England, or somewhat of a fraud, undeserving of the high praise he so often receives. Tony Barrett of the Times is one of the latter, and recently said this:
‘Nothing screams English football’s mediocrity louder than how highly Harry Redknapp (one major honour in 32 years as a manager) is regarded.’
Unfortunately, Redknapp seems to have morphed into a caricature of English football; the tired cliché of him hanging out of a car window is now more synonymous with ‘Transfer Deadline Day’ than Jim White and his ghastly yellow clobber.
The fact is that – although his dodgy knees have been cited as the official reason behind his departure – QPR are stagnating at the wrong end of the Premier League table. Without an away win all season, Rangers are currently 19th in the Premier League, just two points ahead of bottom side Leicester. They have a goal difference of -18 (only goal-shy Aston Villa’s is worse), have lost their last three matches and are without a win in their last six, picking up just two points from a possible eighteen.
A change at Loftus Road was undoubtedly needed.
There have been instances of clubs hastily sacking managers in a desperate attempt to avoid the drop before, but this is not one of them. QPR are a team devoid of ideas, and if it weren’t for Charlie Austin’s thirteen goals so far, could have been in an even worse predicament.
It remains to be seen if Redknapp ‘took the hump’ regarding QPR’s transfer business, or if he jumped before he was pushed, which is probably not the best idea with his dodgy knees. Redknapp’s old boss Tony Fernandes has criticised QPR’s transfers in the wake of his departure, and he isn’t the only one.
Redknapp seems to revert to type under pressure, and often opts for the ‘tried and tested’ approach. You only have to look at the players he has re-signed, and unsuccessfully tried to re-sign, over the years to appreciate his lack of forward thinking. Is Niko Krancjcar really the man to fire you out of a relegation battle? It’s doubtful.
Tactically, Redknapp stuck to a 4-4-2, or 4-4-1-1, for the majority of the time, starting with this formation fifteen times in the league this season. The midfield duties have been mainly carried out by Joey Barton and Karl Henry, though ex-Spurs man Sandro has also featured eight times. Barton has one assist, and Henry none. No player in the team has more than two assists. The direct approach that Redknapp has tried to enforce is all very predictable, but even more concerning is how little his players have assisted him.
Redknapp has only won one trophy in his career, as alluded to previously, but he has encountered happier times of course. His Bournemouth side knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup in 1984, and won the third division in 1987 with a club record 97 points. His West Ham team of the nineties under his stewardship possessed talent such as Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole, and in 2000, West Ham were triumphant in the Intertoto Cup. Redknapp kept Portsmouth in the Premier League on several occasions, and his only major trophy came when a solitary Nwankwo Kanu goal was enough to see off Cardiff in the FA Cup final. Spurs also flourished, albeit briefly, under Redknapp and qualified for the 2010/11 Champions League where Gareth Bale started his journey to super-stardom.
All of this can’t hide the fact that his QPR side have been woeful this season, and none of the above will be any comfort for QPR fans as they look up at the eighteen teams above them in the Premier League.
If ‘Arry does return to management after his knee operation, the chances of him gracing the Premier League are looking very slim.
Thanks to Audioboom.com for the interviews.