Harry Redknapp: The Right Man to Replace Hughes at QPR?
One banner displayed by supporters during the 3-1 home defeat to fellow relegation rivals Southampton—which left the west London club bottom of the table without a win after 12 league games—simply read "HARRY come save us".
But is the former Tottenham, Portsmouth, Southampton and West Ham boss the man to rescue QPR from the drop?
Redknapp certainly has form when it comes to stepping in and turning a faltering club's season around. In October 2008 Tottenham were bottom of the table on just two points when they sacked Juande Ramos and brought in Redknapp from Portsmouth. That season Spurs finished eighth, narrowly missing out on a European place, and they would go on to qualify for the Champions League the following season.
There are, however, marked differences between the two sets of circumstances which Redknapp inherited at White Hart Lane and those he is set to take on at Loftus Road a month further into the campaign.
Spurs were a team which had finished comfortably mid-table and won the League Cup the previous year, whereas QPR only survived the drop last term on the final day due to results elsewhere.
Is Harry Redknapp the right man for QPR?
Tottenham had lost both their star strikers—Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane—in the summer, but had players such as Ledley King, Luka Modric, Aaron Lennon, Jonathan Woodgate and a young Gareth Bale in their squad. QPR, by contrast, brought in 10 players during the last transfer window and the only first-team regular to leave—controversial midfielder Joey Barton moving to Marseille on loan—could be seen as more of a blessing than a curse.
At Spurs Redknapp was in charge of a club with significant resources, but he managed to be a relative success at previous clubs where money could not be thrown around so easily.
In his first job at Bournemouth he took the club up into the third tier of the Football League, although they dropped back down again after two seasons.
At boyhood club West Ham United he developed his reputation as a "wheeler dealer," but the dozens of players who went in and out of Upton Park all helped keep the Hammers in the top flight throughout Redknapp's seven years in charge.
After taking Portsmouth up to the Premier League and keeping them there in his next job, a falling out with owner Milan Mandaric saw him leave and eventually join Pompey's big local rivals, Southampton. Unable to save Saints from the drop, ending their 27-year tenure in the top flight, Redknapp returned to Portsmouth.
Given plenty of financial backing by new owner Alexandre Gaydamak, Redknapp led Portsmouth to an improbable FA Cup triumph in 2008. That success proved to be based in some rather excessive spending, but before Pompey were fully in the grip of a financial crisis which led to administration and their current status in the third tier, Redknapp had jumped ship to Tottenham.
The way things have gone at Fratton Park since Redknapp's departure will certainly have alarm bells among some QPR fans, especially given he will almost certainly want to sign new players in January in a bid to avoid the drop.
QPR chairman Tony Fernandes has already signed off the acquisition of as many as 19 players since taking over at Loftus Road in August 2011, but all those cheques he has written has not prevented the club from the dire straits in which it now finds itself.
It is often difficult for clubs to buy quality in the winter transfer window without paying over the odds for it, so Redknapp may have to rely on his man-management skills in order to work an upturn in the team's fortunes.
His homespun, cockney charm is certainly at odds with the stern, detached figure Hughes often cut with the media and on the training ground. That may be enough to lift the spirits of the hastily assembled group of players upon first walking into the dressing room, which needs to be galvanised and boosted as quickly as possible.
Only a handful of players remain from the squad that won promotion just 18 months ago. The squad urgently needs a new figurehead to give them an identity and a purpose, and there are few managers available who can do that better than Redknapp.
As long as Fernandes does not mind a manager who has as much of a fondness for talking to the media as he does himself, the pair could potentially forge an effective working relationship as they set about saving QPR from the drop.
Redknapp's football life has been an intriguing mix of highs and lows, much like QPR's. Whether this latest chapter in their respective stories ends in success or failure, their fates would now appear to be inextricably linked.
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