Away point and a clean sheet proves an encouraging first step for Redknapp
Sunderland 0 QPR 0Harry Redknapp’s first game as QPR manager will at least bring a measure of encouragement. They will head into December as the only team in English football’s four divisions still looking for their first league victory but there were flickers of improvement evident here.
Sunderland meanwhile are flirting heavily with the relegation places. It was a scruffy match, lacking any real tempo and not helped by the unremitting rain, but Martin O’Neill must have been alarmed about another poor display.
Sunderland were booed off and have now won only two of their past 21 league matches going back to last season, and both came against teams reduced to 10 men.
QPR’s record is even less distinguished, but they did end their six-match losing sequence on the road. It was the first time in 24 away matches they have kept a clean sheet.
With a touch more ambition, they could have conceivably broken their duck here.
Redknapp made three new additions, bringing Jose Bosingwa into defence and Samba Diakite and Esteban Granero into midfield. Shaun Derry dropped to the bench and there was no place at all for Kieron Dyer and Alejandro Faurlin.
The visitors started brightly. Djibril Cisse was lively during the opening exchanges.
Cisse drove an early effort wide but their best chance of this period arrived in the 38th minute. Simon Mignolet saved the first attempt at the feet of Jamie Macki, and when the rebound fell to Adel Taarabt his follow-up effort could not find a gap in a congested six-yard area.
Sunderland lost their skipper Lee Cattermole to injury early on and the home side missed his drive, but this is a team struggling to remember how O’Neill invigorated the club when he took over almost a year ago.
They had a good chance just before half-time, when Danny Rose and Adam Johnson combined to set up Steven Fletcher, but it was really their only noteworthy attempt in the opening 45 minutes.
After 61 minutes, QPR’s susceptibility from set-pieces was evident when Fletcher headed on Sebastian Larsson’s corner and Rob Green made the save.
Substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips fired a late chance for the visitors straight at Mignolet. By that stage, however, a goal would have represented a genuine shock.