Harry’s game may be up if QPR fail to turn season around

We may be witnessing the last of the 67-year-old’s dugout afternoons

Harry Redknapp: His side are about to  embark on a quartet of games against Liverpool, Aston Villa, Chelsea and Manchester City. Photograph: Olly Greenwood/Getty Images)

Harry Redknapp: His side are about to embark on a quartet of games against Liverpool, Aston Villa, Chelsea and Manchester City. Photograph: Olly Greenwood/Getty Images)

 

It has been said already this Premier League season, just seven games old, that Queen’s Park Rangers are all over the place.

Bottom of a division they sneaked into via a play-off final in May in which the corner count read Derby County 14 QPR 1, and having finished 22 points behind Championship winners Leicester City, Rangers needed to display certainty from the opening day. They lost 1-0 at home to Hull.

There have been four more league defeats since and 15 goals conceded. There has been 3-5-2 and fitness questions. There was a League Cup exit at fourth division Burton Albion.

All over the place. It is not an inappropriate description. Few clubs have meandered as much as QPR down the decades. They have inhabited 12 grounds in and around west and north London, even breaking away from Loftus Road for a season in 1962 to test the old days at White City. Now QPR are now planning to move again.

There are architects’ drawings of a plot nearby at Old Oak Common, where a 44,000-capacity stadium would be constructed for a club whose average attendance in the Premier League two seasons ago was 17,800. A stumbling block is that QPR do not own this plot.

The ambition is not to be mocked, provided it is realistic, yet somehow even the magnitude of a new stadium can feel secondary when you’re 4-0 down before the hour against a spluttering Manchester United. That was four games ago, since when QPR have conceded six more, lost two more and snatched a point at home to Stoke via an 88th minute equaliser from Niko Kranjcar.

Reflection

So far – and it is early – clubs under pressure such as Newcastle United and West Brom have resisted the urge to act upon their manager. In fact, Crystal Palace are the only Premier League club to have had a managerial change this season, and that came about because of Tony Pulis’s self-starting departure before the season had begun.

But you get the feeling that at QPR matters must improve significantly if November’s international break is not to be decisive for Harry Redknapp. Aged 67, we may be witnessing the last of his dugout afternoons. This is part of the uncertainty at teetering Loftus Road.

November marks the second anniversary of Redknapp’s arrival at Rangers as Mark Hughes’s successor, and only last month Redknapp and his curious chairman Tony Fernandes said they would happily stay together contractually for another season after this – “minimum”. However, by this month Redknapp was back-pedalling, Fernandes has followed, and as it stands, there is the existing contract and no more.

Having been a manager since 1983, Redknapp has to prove himself afresh. Can he do it, or more pertinently, can this QPR team do it for him? Conceding, on average, two goals a game demonstrates defensive fragility. There has been a focus on Rio Ferdinand, 36 next month, but £8 million Steven Caulker has played in every match too. In attack, the transfer deadline sale of Loic Remy has had an impact. Rangers have failed to score in four of their league fixtures.

Brooding

Robert Green

It says something of the mood inside the club and Green adds: “The Premier League is not a division where you want to get left behind.”

That is what happened two seasons ago when QPR lost five of their first seven, sacked Hughes, recruited Remy, Chris Samba, Andros Townsend and others in January and still never got out of the bottom three.

They scattered £78 million on wages; their income was £61 million. Because of spending then, QPR are under threat from Financial Fair Play regulations now, with the Football League warning that they will not accept the club back into the Championship, or below, if they do not pay a fine, possibly £40 million.

Fernandes says he will contest that, but there is a chance, however far-fetched it can seem today, that next season QPR will be facing the likes of Braintree and Welling rather than Liverpool and Chelsea.

All over the place. Lest this read like an obituary, it needs to be repeated that the season is not 20 per cent done.

There is hope. This time last year Palace had three points and didn’t get a fourth until game 11. They ended up mid-table and stable. They had to sign Tony Pulis to get there, though.

There had to be change.

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