Why QPR are no better off under Harry Redknapp than Mark Hughes

Broaching the subject of Harry Redknapp in anything other than a positive light is often considered to be sacrilege by journalists. For this is Harry Houdini, the man that brought Portsmouth back from the brink and recaptured former glories at Tottenham Hotspur.

redknapp holds the key

Redknapp is a media darling, there can be no doubting this, and with good reason. Few other bosses come across as jovial, approachable or friendly as he does. Yet the warm glow that the Queen’s Park Rangers manager inspires means that he is almost immune from criticism, when other managers would be pilloried.

Since taking over at QPR, Redknapp has made progress and at least appeared to inspire the players to perform closer to the level that would be expected of them.

Rangers were at the lowest ebb possible following the insipid, abysmal, catastrophic 3-1 defeat at home to Southampton in November. Taking charge amid such a morass, with a disjointed team full of disinterested and sometimes mutinous players, was an extremely courageous move.

It appeared to most, given the R’s had not won in 12 games at that point, that he was on a hiding to nothing, and the crisis was already insurmountable. However, the rot was stopped, and teams no longer turned up at Loftus Road expecting to claim all three points with minimal effort.

Although it now appears that the “renaissance” in January was in fact a myth, for despite an historic triumph at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea, Rangers did not improve at all.

When Mark Hughes finally gave up three months ago, QPR were five points away from safety and boasted a fatal shortcoming: the complete inability to win football matches.

Fast-forward to late February and the R’s are seven points off Wigan Athletic, and Premier League survival, meaning that Redknapp has made no real terms improvement as manager. This is not to say that the team has gone backwards, for this was hardly possible following the morass under Hughes, but the gaffer is beginning to be found out somewhat.

Under the 65-year-old there has been a fundamental shift in philosophy, which may have gone un-noticed by a number of supporters. For anyone wondering why Rangers were able to keep so many clean sheets, it is obvious, as Redknapp has swapped goals for an ultra-defensive, cautious formation that stopped the rot.

What has taken place is that QPR have traded a winless run for a barren spell in which the last home league goal came on Boxing Day and only three have been scored this year.

Perhaps the cynics were right in arguing that the R’s were doomed three months into the campaign, but for all his words, Redknapp has not made relegation any less certain. As cruel as it may sound, the ex-Spurs gaffer might as well have been walking his dog over the past few months for all the good his arrival has done.

Having promised not to pull owner Tony Fernandes’ pants down, indeed expressed disgust at the thought, the reality is that Redknapp has done just this with his January spending spree. There may have been no other option than to splash out ¬£12.5 million on Christopher Samba and buy Loic Remy for ¬£8 million, but signing Jermaine Jenas raises doubts over his sanity.

Like thousands of other QPR fans, I was clamouring for Hughes to go, for it very much appeared as though Rangers’ hopes of avoiding the drop were fading as each day went by. What I cannot stand, however, are the rousing statements from Redknapp promising a reprieve when all those in the stands know full well that the fat lady has belted out the first verse.

Impressive 0-0 draws against Spurs and Manchester City were achieved by sacrificing all attacking intent and putting two defensive midfielders in front of the back-four. Many sides would be fighting tooth and nail to get forward and break in numbers had they not netted for two months and were they three wins from overtaking their nearest rivals.

Not Rangers, it appears. The system Redknapp has adopted favours defence over attack, eliminates the possibility of goals and is dire to watch, uninspiring and wholly inappropriate. Under the grand plan, goalkeeper Julio Cesar sees more of the ball than the striker, and the R’s lone attacker will drift out wide to cross the ball to himself. It is completely farcical.

Saturday’s defeat to Manchester United was entirely expected, and thoroughly deserved, but what had not been anticipated was just how much of a damp squib the hosts would be. Taking off winger Andros Townsend, the only player worth watching for the turgid 90 minutes, was perhaps the worst moment, the limp-wristed, feeble performance aside.

Accountability must start now, and the first charge that ought to be levelled against Redknapp would be this: why was DJ Campbell, a proven Premier League goalscorer, sent out on loan ? Should it be so blindingly obvious, as it is in W12, that goals are at a premium, how on earth could a vital asset such as Campbell be let go in the middle of an injury crisis upfront ?

Despite the dismal showing against the runaway league leaders, Redknapp was unexpectedly buoyant in his post-match interview, even predicting a flurry of strikes from his crocked duo. He said: “This leaves us bottom today, but we won’t be bottom at the end of the season. I still feel we’ll get out of it.”

“You probably think I’m mad, but I don’t think I am. Everybody else has written us off, but I haven’t. I still feel we have a chance. I see two forwards now that can start scoring some goals for me. That’s the problem – we don’t score any goals.”

While the last statement is agonisingly true, it seemed that the players had given up at the weekend, particularly Adel Taarabt, who had one of his worst ever games for the club.

Redknapp may have come in promising all the answers, but in the end not even the magician himself could perform any trick capable of saving such a poor Premier League outfit. Championship football is beckoning next season, which may in fact be a blessing in disguise, but I would not expect Redknapp to be around to lead the club into this brave new world.

A glimmer of hope remains, for when Hughes took over, it was not until late March that the Superhoops began to pick up points and turn Loftus Road into a veritable fortress.

Sadly, QPR cannot afford to wait until nearly April this time around: there are 11 games remaining, and based on current form, the R’s would only win two of them at most. This is just not enough. Harry has tried, swapping a side famous for its attacking prowess for one barely able to cross the halfway line. Unfortunately, it may have been one job too far.

Chris King
Twitter @chriskking
Website: http://www.thearmchairpundits.com

13 thoughts on “Why QPR are no better off under Harry Redknapp than Mark Hughes

  1. This Rangers fan was very vocal to the club, appealing to it not to employ Hughes in the first place, due to the damage he would cause. The club have letters on record since Jan 2012 stating my concerns. Sadly, all of them, discipline, wasting of money, damaging the core of the club and massive expenditure on his pet agent, have all come true.
    Whether you are right to have a go at Harry is a question that we shall all have to wait and see about. However, at least do him the service to have a go at putting right the mess left by Hughes and the naivety of Fernandes. I hate saying this but, IMO, the club has to be relegated. At least with a year of two in the Championship, it can be rebuilt and all trace of Hughes, his coaches and his players can be removed (with the exception of Julio Cesar).

  2. I really think you are writing Harry off way too early. You said it yourself the mess he inherited from the abominable Hughes was onoh going to lead to a hide to nothing. There was a switch in tactics that is both justified by the fixture list in that time and results achieved. 6 pts from Chelsea, man city, spurs, west ham, Swansea and man utd arguably our toughest run of fixtures was not a bad return. Now Harry finds himself playing 8 teams in the bottom half of table in the next 9 games, arguably our easiest run of fixtures this season. Let’s wait and see what happens over these games and then judge him and the players. A win against Southampton this weekend and very tough fixtures for reading, Wigan and villa would see us 4pts off safety. Southampton’s defence is porous mainly due to an extreme lack of pace in defence constantly left exposed by its very offensive midfield and front line something I fully expect harry to exploit with the pace of Remy. It will be an extremely tough game but a much needed win this weekend could significantly change the whole scenario with a home game against the black cats up next at loftus rd. Keep believeing!!!
    Mike ‘the optomist’ Gallen

    • Well, I hope the mood in the camp here has improved a bit. As I said previously I win at saints could change the whole scenario with reading and Wigan keeping their side of the bargain up ahem! Villa next and we seriously start believing what everyone thought was impossible, the great escape. I never stopped believeing that once harry was appointed that we would stay up. Saturday’s performance although not pretty was ruthlessly efficient and mostly due to my delight the talent of Remy. The pause before heist strike said it all, a well timed strike that most of us on first hand thought he let slip by. If he stays fit it bodes well. Surprisingly park had arguably his best game and even bosimgwa was ok. A level we must match when the cats arrive on Saturday. Win that and we will see other relegation candidates start to crash….. more often! Keep believeing. C’mon u Rs and our god bless harry!

  3. If Hughes had have stayed we were coming after Derbys record and the gap would have been 15 points at this stage. We have had a mini revivial but what is killing us is that no other team has had a slump. Things have improved under Redknapp as they could not have got any worse.

  4. I agree Stephen and what we obviously don’t know is what players would have come in if Hughes had remained at the club.On the basis of his down and out previous signings they would not have inmproved the situation.
    Unfortunately Hughes in his delusional state(Steve R will like that mention!)created a monster. The monster disease permeated every level of the club and you do not remove that legacy overnight. I still feel with a fit Remy and Zamorra or Bothroyd with him we will start winning. The act of doing that may then put pressure on the clubs above us and produce a slump in some of them.

  5. You have basically said everything I have been feeling! I was not bowled over with delight at the appointment of Redknapp – mainly due to my Spurs’ friends telling me stories of how some of his managerial decisions left them baffled & he never had a “Plan B”. The facts speak for themselves – under Redknapp we’ve only won twice & we haven’t scored at home since Boxing Day (as you point out). We don’t win against the so-called “easy” teams so those above saying we’ve got the “easy” run-in coming up should be very, very wary! We are in a mess & Harry does have one hell of a job to fix us up – but I agree that we have become soulless up front in trying to shore up the defence! I am not sure Harry is the true “saviour” – but I dearly hope & pray that I am proved wrong!

  6. I was been one of the most vocal in wanting Hughes out. I was also in a gang of one for wanting Benitez to replace him. My spurs mates very very quick to tell me LAST season that Arry had no plan B. very few of them were too upset when he left the spuds. It seems to me that Arry is quite happy to play the “it was the previous lot wot dunnit card” and absolve himself from any responsibility. I understand him putting out defensive sides against his old clubs west ham and spurs, not wanting to lose face along with 3 points. I don’t however understand where the football played at Stamford bridge has gone. There were only three players at the club that knew how to hold the ball and pass accurately. One of these (Faurlin) is now on loan. Another (Granero) is only on the peripheral of the team. At the time of writing, the club only have one fit striker (bothroyd) and for reasons only known to Arry, that one fit striker can’t even make it on to the bench. It is about time Redknapp stopped playing around playing players out of position and started picking the best team to go out and WIN games. Otherwise he should step down.

  7. Lets not forget the fact that HR inherited a squad lacking strikers ( fit , mentally or physically ) how do you expect a team to score goals with no recognized striker , 3 strikers in a squad of 25 with 3 keepers , and a whopping surplus of midfielders who dont exactly set the scoring statistics alight.
    That is where the problem lies , you can only get out of the inherited squad as was there when he arrived , a fifth of his squad being sick lame or lazy , shows why hughes didnt have a clue .

  8. I don’t even think the special one himself would be able to mold this team into a survival team. Too many injuries up front has held us back and Anton Ferdinand leaked too many goals. A traffic warden was more welcoming then that useless xxxxxx. We’ve improved under HR but we aren’t cohesive and we struggle in the final third. I see teams like Southampton taking pot shots from the edge of the area and getting results. They thrive on every opportunity. Whereas Rangers seem to want to walk the ball into the back of the net which fails miserably with the lack of passing and movement we have in front of goal. I’m a true Rangers supporter who has suffered for long periods of watching utter rubbish at Loftus Rd, but hey we were in the top flight for a couple of years and will be in the Championship next season. The true test of character is whether we can bounce back straight away and be a stronger side when we do return. Yes Mark failed miserably and should be ashamed of himself for buying the players he did but we have what we have and we must grow up and plan for the future. Escape routes are not available after this amount of dammage. I used to go to Dean Court when Harry cut his teeth at a club who also got religated so he is no stranger to going down. West Ham, Bournemouth, Portsmouth and now QPR is not exactly Harry Houdini statistics is it? Let’s see what happens when we go down and let’s see which players are men and stay and fight the good fight….

  9. Redknapp has done ok so far, the home games against Villa and Norwich are the only two I think he has under achieved in the rest we have either done better or as expected. It was always going to be a case of stay in touch for when the run in starts at Southampton, those 4 points dropped have cost us but Redknapp has done a decent job overall in making the team more organised but you can’t polish a turd and Hughes left behind him an absolutely massive turd of a squad that was always going to be a big ask for anyone to keep up.

    I think the Man Utd defeat was to be expected, they are a very good side and the reaction to the QPR performance has been very harsh.

  10. Putting aside the question of whether HR was the right appointment, I can’t help feeling that QPR are better off with HR than we were with Mark Hughes. Don’t forget that before HR’s arrival people were saying that we wouldn’t win a match the whole season, and were going to end up with less points than Derby.

    I don’t think what HR is saying is all Comical Ali-style optimism. Perhaps there’s some truth to the no plan B thing, but he is more flexible than Hughes. For example when we were 0-3 down at half-time to Liverpool he took off Ciss√©, and brought on Derry, which was quite a bold stroke, and at least showed we could shut up shop. The down side is that we are stuck in defensive mode, but that’s probably as much due to HR making the best of the situation, as actually wanting to play like that.

    My main concern is that he is a 4-4-2 man, and we will end up with the same identity crisis we had under Hughes, who kept trying to wrench the team into 4-4-2 mode.

    To finish, although home draws against Man City and Tottenham (two of the best teams in the country) are not going to keep us up, they have gone some way to restoring a bit or respectability to the club.

  11. harry steadied the ship but we do not look like scoring and have few strikers! if remy is injured and that’s extremely likely as he’s so fragile, then we have to rely on a crocked zamora. we need to win, goals win games..who’s going to get the goals??

  12. Tosh. You undermined your argument when you brought up the win against Chelsea and wrote this “Impressive 0-0 draws against Spurs and Manchester City”

    Of course we’re better off under Harry.

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