The managerial style of Harry Redknapp is a juxtaposition of the modern penchant for lavishing huge sums on new acquisitions with the quintessential desire for simplicity and team unity. Redknapp is an exceptional manager, but a hedonistic desire to spend has stricken more than just one former club, although Portsmouth is the notable example.
QPR, after Redknapp’s fairly illogical sacking from Tottenham at the end of last season, fitted the Redknapp remit.
A challenge? Check
In the south? Check
QPR was an onerous task, however. Firmly entrenched at the base of the league, it was a team littered with stars, but seemingly irrevocably splintered. Playing for themselves, QPR were being humbled week after week by much cheaper and altogether more modest squads.
Redknapp’s arrival, therefore was a statement. It was a clear indication to the fans by owner Tony Fernandes that he was willing to pay the price for survival. A manager of Redknapp’s calibre would not come to a doomed ship. A sinking ship provides the hope of retribution, a way out, a chance to enhance a reputation that will soon be his legacy. Tony Fernandes, in signing Harry Redknapp two months ago, promised money for reinforcements.
Before this week I was a sceptic. Harry had improved the style of QPR’s play, but the task appeared too steep. Woefully short of confidence and form, the R’s had too many sub-standard players to complete mission improbable...surely.
But the chapter that will, in all likelihood, alter the course of QPR’s ailing season can be summed up in the tale of two owners.
Newcastle’s Mike Ashley is a businessman in the primary sense, with a secondary interest in running a football club as a business venture, in the hope of a return.
Having sold top scorer Demba Ba to Chelsea, Ashley, although not culpable, was at liberty to sign an adequate replacement to appease a restless fanbase. Loic Remy to the tune of £8 million would have been a brilliant replacement that would have ensured on-pitch continuity and even progression. The deal appeared signed, the subtleties ironed out...
The second owner in this tale is Tony Fernandes. Since taking over from the world’s richest-ever football-owning conglomerate, Fernandes has run QPR akin to a fan. This, unlike Ashley at Newcastle, is not a money-making venture. Fernandes is a rich man with money to spend. He is running QPR for the sake of the club itself. He will undoubtedly make a loss on his investment, but he can afford to do so and is quite happy too.
The conclusion, therefore, was inevitable. According to a report from The Sun, QPR matched Newcastle’s fee at the last hour, but after offering Remy and his advisors a more lucrative financial package, the French international shunned the Europa League participants for the relegation candidates. Remy has been chastised in numerous quarters for his decision, but on the basis of this season it is not all so illogical.
Newcastle’s stunning season last year is but a distant dream as the team languish just above the relegation places. In reality, the only reason they are not currently sitting on the trap door was Ba, who has since eloped to join the Benitez "revolution."
The difference this season, therefore, does not really come down to football. As sad as it is to say, money does talk. QPR threw more money towards Remy, and with little to split the two teams in the league, this was naturally construed as a statement of intent, a greater desire for his services.
The sad reality for Newcastle fans is that QPR's desire for a striker was no greater than their own. Both were in desperate need of a forward, and Remy would have been a brilliant choice for either. Mike Ashley’s wallet just took a bit too long to open.
If the Remy signing was a statement of intent for QPR, a second French signing that they also confirmed Monday spells salvation.
Yann M’Vila is a wondrously talented combative midfielder that, at just 22 years of age, has already established himself as a starting international for his country.
A genius, but a flawed one, M’Vila’s attitude and disciplinary issues have included attacking a restaurant owner and punching a teenager who made advances on his sister. The resultant £7 million pound fee, for a full French international of M’ Vila’s quality, is quite frankly ludicrous in a world were Andy Carroll changes hands for £35 million.
Harry Redknapp understands Yann M’Vila’s baggage, but with extensive experience and superb interpersonal skills will undoubtedly help the young man to flourish in his new system.
There are too many sub-standard teams in the Premier League this season that won’t spend in January to leave an invigorated QPR to face the drop.
Irony is a funny thing, but if Mike Ashley’s reticence to secure Remy’s signature is the difference between the sides at the end of the season, I have my doubts whether Newcastle fans will see the humour.