Queens Park Rangers: 5 Keys to Harry Redknapp's Success at QPR
Redknapp has already transformed the team into a more fluid outfit, and transformed the fan's hopes for the season along with that. His London charm and unsubtle press conferences are of complete contrast to the mumbling, ever-excusing Mark Hughes. And that has only been seen as a good thing so far.
The manager's attitude in his pressers is slowly being matched by the attitude of the players on the pitch. But what has he done so differently to Mark Hughes?
Why has he totaled one-and-a-half times more points in three times as less games? And what are the keys to Redknapp rescuing Rangers from relegation?
Apart from Adel Taarabt.
Find a Solid CB Parternship
One of the biggest concerns for Queens Park Rangers after the summer transfer window closed, was the lack of a seemingly solid centre-back partnership.
And that was just the beginning. Conceding 23 goals in their first 12 matches, and only having held one clean sheet was a loud cry for a new CB.
And a cry which Harry seems to have answered, by bringing in somebody whom was right under Hughes' nose.
Clint Hill has started every game under Harry, and has looked accomplished, controlled and a great partner for Ryan Nelsen.
The majority of Rangers fans will tell you that none of them thought Hill was worthy of a starting place at the beginning of the season.
The Player's Player & Supporter's Player of the Year last season (via Daily Mail), had suffered from the glitz and glamor of ex-Champions League and Premier League winners being brought into the team during silly season.
Overlooked and undervalued—even by his own fans who were clamoring for Ricardo Carvalho, or Michael Dawson or various other extreme transfers prospects to be snapped up (via BBC)—Harry Redknapp has by-passed the shiny medals and looked straight to Hill to help out with Rangers' defensive woes.
Nelsen and Hill seem to be the chosen two, and are doing a decent job so far. Ignoring the three goal blitz attack from Manchester United, QPR have conceded three in three.
Still not the watertight defense Harry—or the fans—will be proud of, but it's a start.
Set pieces are still an issue, and there is always a heart in mouth moment when the ball pings around in the penalty box before being hoofed clear. But if Redknapp can work harder with the defense and make them a unit, then this will be essential for QPR's success.
And whether that unit contains Clint Hill remains to be seen. I for one would not be adverse to Dawson. But Hill helped bring QPR up, and keep QPR up, so perhaps it is time to give him the chance, and the plaudits, he deserves.
Get Somebody, Anybody, Scoring
Djibril, Djibril, wherefore art thou Djibril? The Cisse of olden-days seems to have died a slow death this season.
His lightening entrance in February was undoubtedly essential to QPR's survival last season. Cisse's six goals in eight games, including the late-winner vs. Stoke City in the penultimate game of the season (via Soccerbase) saw Rangers' season transform from down-and-outs to skin of their teeth survivors.
However this season has been a different story. Two league goals so far is not the form you want a forward to be retaining (via Soccerbase).
And with Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora out injured (via Reuters), that has left fans favorite Jamie Mackie attempting to step up into the loan striker's role in recent weeks.
However even he has only managed two this season (via Soccerbase).
Both of these men are starting to score more regularly recently: Mackie with his two in the last five games, and Cisse scoring in the draw vs. Wigan.
However there needs to be an increase in the ratio of goals per game for both forwards.
If Harry Redknapp cannot improve their finishing by the time January comes around, there may well be a need for a loan signing, or a cheap striker who has a proven goal-scoring record to be brought in.
But, if Cisse hits a purple patch and Mackie finds some form, then Redknapp will be tempted to leave his striking system as is.
Whoever it is and however he does it, one thing is clear: Harry needs to get somebody scoring regularly if he is to succeed with his Houdini act.
Utilize Alejandro Faurlin
With all the plaudits being rightly directed at Adel Taarabt on Saturday, there was one man who quietly went about his business, and was instrumental in the midfield.
Alejandro Faurlin spent the past few games either on the bench, or not even in the stadium. And fans were starting to wonder if Redknapp had other ideas for the the Argentine.
But Faurlin was re-called against Fulham and dominated the center of the park. Looking extremely comfortable on the ball, Faurlin completed 83 percent of his passes and provided one assist for Taarabt's first goal (via FourFourTwo Stats App).
He had the highest successful pass rate overall, and in the attacking third. He created the most chances, and flew in for the most tackles of both the QPR and Fulham teams (via FourFourTwo Stats App).
And although his defensive qualities aren't always perfect, when used with somebody with that mindset, he can be dynamite.
If Harry Redknapp is looking for a central midfielder to base his team around, Faurlin has to be it. I have lauded Esteban Granero before, but he has looked off the pace in recent weeks.
I also have admired both Stephane Mbia and Samba Diakite as a midfield pairing as a tough-tackling twosome.
But if there is one thing Redknapp must take away from the Fulham game, it is that Faurlin deserves to be in the team. And he is crucial to Rangers' play.
Keep Pride, Passion and Spirits Up
Harry Redknapp is a man-manager.
He is world-class at helping players pick apart their problems, putting his hand around the shoulder of a troubled star, and giving certain men a kick up the backside when they need it.
And that seems to be what he has done at Rangers, as Clint Hill states in the Kilburn Times:
Everyone talks about his man-management style and all that kind of stuff but he’s just come and tried to give us a bit of confidence and a bit more belief in our ability, to go and try to impose ourselves on games and try to get results.
The biggest ingredient to QPR's success is likely to be pride and passion, and probably a little bit of luck.
Players like Shaun Derry who when playing against Manchester United showed Ashley Young what passion really was have it.
Players like Jamie Mackie who kiss the badge and run towards the fans when they score have it.
And players like Clint Hill who beat the ground time-and-time again when they conceded have it.
But Redknapp needs to ensure that that passion reverberates around the dressing room. So far, it seems to be working. The players look like they want to be there, and look like they are playing for their place.
'Arry needs to keep the players on-side, in-check and working as hard as they can if he is to succeed with his relegation rescue effort.
As Winston Churchill once said: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat". And he did alright.
The most obvious point you will ever read in an article in your entire lifetime, but winning is the biggest key to success.
Especially in Rangers' current predicament.
Queens Park Rangers could improve their defense, score goals, have pride and passion, but none of that will count for anything if they don't win games.
They need to take their chances and get results against the "lesser" teams. They need to go out and get draws against "bigger" teams. And they need to strive for three points in every single match they play.
Five from safety on 10 points, QPR statistically need 27 more to be within a chance of staying up, and 30 to more-or-less guarantee it. With 63 points up for grabs, Redknapp believes “If we get six points from every four games we will stay up.” (via Daily Telegraph).
QPR fans will be hoping he is right, and can deliver.