Queens Park Rangers: 5 Things Harry Redknapp Should Do as New QPR Manager
So the desperate cry for Harry Redknapp was answered last week, and Queens Park Rangers have themselves a new manager. However he has an uphill battle ahead of him to drag QPR up from the bottom of the table, where they currently languish on four points.
But what does Redknapp need to do first and foremost as the new manager to ensure Premier League safety and reinstate him as Harry Houdini?
Read on to find out five of them, and this is by no means an exhaustive list.
Give Players a Kick Up the R's
As ex-QPR player Rodney Marsh said on the Open All R's, a podcast dedicated to the club, there are some players who need to pull their weight and start playing to their ability.
Some players mentioned include Shaun Wright-Phillips, Bobby Zamora, Ji-Sung Park and Jose Bosingwa.
This may be the voice of a famously outspoken former professional, but Harry Redknapp—although not naming names—seems to agree (via The Guardian):
They should be embarrassed by our position. You can talk to players all day and those who aren't playing will blame those who are playing. Those who are in the team will blame somebody else. But something has got to be wrong. An excellent manager has got the sack, and I've got to put this right quickly. We need effort and people having a go. I've got no time for people losing the ball and throwing their arms up in the air, or standing around with their hands on their hips. We're in a relegation battle. We've got four points. It's their fault, nobody else's. I need to see people chasing, working, running and closing down.
It is refreshing to hear a manager with such a tough-talking, no-nonsense approach, and it is one which Queens Park Rangers have been missing.
The former Spurs man has already issued a tough love warning to his new squad—one which should wake up a few whom perhaps thought that playing at Loftus Road was no more than a means to an end. However Harry will not accept that and has issued a stark warning of perform or get dropped, according to the BBC: "I need 11 people with ability to put effort in. If they don't they're not going to play and I'll get 11 who do."
Judging by this statement, Shaun Derry, Clint Hill and Jamie Mackie must be looking forward to more—deserved—playing time.
Although Mark Hughes was arguably one of the main men to blame for Rangers' struggles, the players also need to step up and shoulder some of the responsibility. If Redknapp can get those who are below par to put their heart and soul into the performances, then this will be his first success.
Get Taarabt Performing Consistently
Although you cannot build a team for one man, you can build a team around him. And that man is Adel Taarabt.
Taarabt is one of the most exciting talents in the Premier League—when he actually performs to his potential—and former manager Mark Hughes claimed he was "one of the best players he has ever worked with" (via ITV Sport).
A big claim indeed, especially as Hughes has worked with Jo.
One of the concerns that supporters had surrounding the appointment of Harry Redknapp was whether he would look to offload Taarabt. However Redknapp has eased fans' fears by reassuring them that he will not sell the influential—if slightly erratic—midfielder, stating: "he's the player who can do something special so well be looking to get the best out of him" (via ESPN).
And that is exactly what Redknapp needs to do: get the best out of him.
Taarabt has the skill and talent to change a game and has shown flashes of that this season already. However Redknapp has a challenge ahead of him to keep Adel on track, in form, out of the referees book and performing at the high standard his is capable of.
So far, only Neil Warnock has managed that—in the Championship-winning season of 2010-11. Taarabt led the charge to the Premier League and was named Championship Player of the Year (via The Sun).
If Redknapp can tempt that level of performance out of him once more, then this could be one of the deciding factors to Rangers' season.
Spend Minimal Cash
Despite Queens Park Rangers only spending just over £18 million ($29 million) in the summer transfer window (via The Guardian), it is the wage bill that is of concern.
In the financial report which related to the 2010-11 Championship winning season, the wages-to-turnover ratio was 183 percent (via The Daily Telegraph). Add into the mix high-caliber players such as Jose Bosingwa, Julio Cesar and Ji-Sung Park—to name a few—they will undoubtedly carry the same high-caliber weekly wage.
Although a rather pessimistic view—should Rangers get relegated at the end of the season—it won't be Premier League survival that is the most important factor, it will be real survival. Tony Fernandes will not want to follow in the failing footsteps of Portsmouth (via The Guardian).
Fernandes and Redknapp will need to look beyond the idea of spending to save the club and use shrewd loan signings and exceptional man-management tactics to improve the current squad.
Thankfully, Redknapp seems to be of the same opinion—telling talkSPORT radio that "we're not going to go mad in January, and spend a load of money."
Find a Solid Center-Back
Despite not wishing to increase the already heavy wage bill dramatically, Harry Redknapp will most likely be looking fill the void at center-back.
With Stephane MBia, Clint Hill, Anton Ferdinand, Nedum Onuoha and Ryan Nelsen all having played in the middle of defense this season, there has not been a solid partnership evolving.
Nelsen has been the most consistent central defender (via Daily Telegraph) for QPR and it is only right that he has a partner to equal him, and stop Rangers from leaking goals.
The most obvious suggestion will be Michael Dawson.
With Rangers having lodged a failed bid in the summer (via Sky Sports) and Harry Redknapp having managed him formerly at Tottenham, there is talk of the two being reunited in January (via Sky Sports).
Dawson, however, has been playing more regularly under Andre Villas-Boas recently, who seems to have recognized the defender's importance to the Spurs squad (via Daily Mail).
Whether the lure of Redknapp will be enough to convince Dawson to join Rangers has yet to be seen. But even if not, Harry is well-known for being a shrewd negotiator in the transfer window and will most likely have a defender as one of his top priorities.
Redknapp's first game in charge will be against struggling Sunderland.
Having only earned five points in their last six games (yes, I am aware that that is still one point more than Rangers have managed in total), Sunderland are currently suffering a slump in form (via Sky Sports).
This is a game that is winnable. Despite being at the Stadium of Light—a notoriously tough place to play—Redknapp and his team will travel to the North East salivating at the thought of their first victory this season.
With all the hype that has surrounded the new appointment and the sway in fans' opinions from despair to hope with the change in management, Rangers will be looking for three points to kick-start the Harry era.
A victory at Sunderland is not the be-all-and-end-all but it would give Redknapp a firm starting point and the chance to make it back-to-back wins when Aston Villa visit Loftus Road on Saturday. Six points would go down a treat right about now.
And if Harry does come away with three points on Tuesday, it will be QPR's first away win in over a year (via Soccerbase).
And Rangers fans are tired of waiting.