'Swanselona' continue to impress as Redknapp refuses to throw in towel


Swansea 4 QPR 1:Both these teams are in Dubai, taking advantage of a two-week break in fixtures to combine a few days RR with some warm-weather training. The difference is that while Swansea have a cup final to come back to, Queens Park Rangers may be tempted to stay.

As an avid follower of the sport of kings, Harry Redknapp loves a handicap but he could do without the burden he inherited from Mark Hughes at the Premier League’s bottom club, where he needs a Devon Loch from his rivals if he is to triumph against mountainous odds. When Redknapp took over from Hughes, QPR had failed to win any of their first 13 league games, from which they had taken a paltry four points. Under their new master they have managed 13 from 13, but their 4-1 drubbing at the Liberty Stadium leaves them four points adrift at the bottom, in need of a footballing miracle if they are to survive.

Redknapp points out he has been there and done it before. At Portsmouth he took over a relegation-bound team in December 2005 and masterminded a revival that brought 20 points from the last 10 games [six wins and two draws] and 17th place. In the two seasons that followed Pompey finished ninth and eighth. “The situation was similar” Redknapp said. “What happened then is what we need now, and yes, I’m confident. I think it will go to the wire, it’s not impossible.”

On Saturday’s lame performance no sane observer would give QPR a prayer, but there were mitigating circumstances. Julio Cesar, who was to blame for three of the goals conceded, was injured and should not have played, Bobby Zamora is soldiering on in need of surgery on his hip and Loic Remy, the new striker on who Redknapp is pinning his hopes, was absent with hamstring trouble.

So Rangers were easy prey for a Swansea team who are up to seventh. They have been known locally as “Swanselona” for a long time, since Roberto Martinez first made his mark in management, and the good work carried on by Paulo Sousa, Brendan Rodgers and now Michael Laudrup has won them new fans everywhere.

Michu’s two goals took his tally for the season to 15 in the league and 18 in all competitions, but neither he, nor the man who bought him, see him as a conventional number nine. The £2 million bargain from Rayo Vallecano said: “I prefer to play behind the front line. Playing there, you have the surprise factor.”

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