Why Harry Redknapp Will Not Save QPR from Relegation

Ryan BaileyFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2012

WIGAN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 08:  Queens Park Rangers Manager Harry Redknapp looks on prior to  the Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Queens Park Rangers at the DW Stadium on December 8, 2012 in Wigan, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

The task ahead of QPR is so great that Harry Redknapp has stolen Christmas.

At the behest of the new manager, the Hoops squad will not enjoy their annual shindig this festive season and will instead concentrate on climbing out of the tremendous hole they have dug in the relegation zone.

Currently rooted to the bottom of the table, QPR's form is now record-breaking: No Premier League team has ever endured 16 consecutive games without a win, and their tally of seven points after sixteen games is the lowest in Premiership history.

Even the famously feckless 1993-94 Swindon and 2007-08 Derby County sides were better off at this stage than QPR.

Such poor form must be baffling the club owners, AirAsia and Caterham F1 boss Tony Fernandes and and billionaire steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal. They have invested in the kind of players who should be propping up a top-half side. Djibril Cissé, Júlio César, Park Ji-Sung and José Bosingwa have all been decorated with Champions League medals.

But desperate times call for desperate measures, which is why Fernandes and the board have brought in Harry Houdini, a man with a reputation for rescuing teams from precarious situations.

In his first season as Bournemouth coach in 1983-84, Redknapp swung the fortunes of the Cherries from the clinch of Third Division relegation to league champions three seasons later.

'Arry steered Pompey from top-flight relegation when he took over in December 2005. When he took over at Tottenham in October 2008, the Londoners were bottom of the league with two points from eight games. They finished in eighth place with 51 points.

Redknapp's reputation as a saviour, however, will do nothing to help QPR this season, for they may already be a lost cause.

Over the past five seasons, teams have required an average of 35.8 points to beat the drop. Assuming this figure is valid for the current campaign, QPR will need at least 28.8 (let's call it 29) points from 22 games.

That's 29 points from a possible 66 for a side who have not won a game this season. Redknapp's QPR have thus far achieved three points from a possible nine against Sunderland, Aston Villa and Wigan—three teams who are also threatened with relegation. Their next match against a side of similar ilk isn't until March when they visit Southampton.

Extrapolating Redknapp's current form, based on three games against weaker sides, QPR would finish the season on 29 points. That has never been good enough to survive the Premier League.

It should also be noted that Harry Houdini is not always able to escape the strait jacket and chains of relegation. He was unable to keep Bournemouth from dropping from the second tier in 1989-90, while Southampton fans will need no reminder of how their 2004-05 campaign ended with Redknapp at the helm.

In recent comments that may be born from a desire to shift his "wheeler dealer" nickname, Redknapp has admitted he will only strengthen his squad of misfits in the January transfer window if there is still something to fight for. Speaking before his second game in charge, he said (h/t guardian.co.uk):

What's the point in the club spending money in January, bringing more players in, if we're cut adrift? You don't want that to happen. I don't want us to put ourselves in a situation where next year we're overloaded with wages and not in the division. What we do in the next six or seven games will decide where we go in January.

It's a refreshingly sensible attitude—and one that will ensure QPR will not have to deal with even more huge contracts should they play in the Championship next season—but it effectively means the Loftus Road side only have until January to save their campaign.

That leaves four matches against Fulham, Newcastle, West Brom and Liverpool before Redknapp decides whether his side are "cut adrift" from the pack.

Redknapp is certainly a man who savours a challenge, and QPR are a team with very recent experience of surviving a Premier League campaign by the skin of their teeth. The task at hand this season, however, may be too great for one of the game's leading escapologists.