Queens Park Rangers: Can Harry Redknapp Save His Team from Relegation?
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QPR had not won a Premier League match when Redknapp was appointed on Nov. 24 and had claimed just four points from their opening 12 matches.
The situation was looking dire and, despite the improvement under Redknapp, there remains an air of inevitability about the Loftus Road club's return to the Championship two years after their promotion to the top flight.
It is arguable that QPR have been in freefall ever since Neil Warnock, the manager who steered them into the top flight just over a year after he took over with the team lying 20th in the Championship table.
Warnock was sacked by the West London club in January 2012 with Rangers in 17th place in the Premier League and without a win in eight league matches.
Hughes arrived with a big reputation forged at Manchester City, Blackburn and Wales but, despite club owner Tony Fernandes spending £10 million immediately for the new boss on Djibril Cisse, Bobby Zamora and Nedum Onuoha, plus loan deals for Samba Diakite, Federico Macheda and Taye Taiwo, QPR survived only because Bolton did not beat Stoke City on the final day.
Summer signings followed for Hughes with Esteban Granero, Diakite, Ji-Sung Park, Junior Hoilett, Julio Cesar, Robert Green, Ryan Nelsen, Jose Bosingwa, Andy Johnson, Sam Magri, Fabio Da Silva and Stephane Mbia all joining.
The brave new dawn did not last even beyond the opening day of the season when Swansea City thrashed QPR 5-0 at Loftus Road. The die was cast and there would be no relief for Hughes until his departure.
Now it's down to Redknapp. QPR supporters had called for his appointment as Hughes' squad fail to get their collective act together and Fernandes made his move with the 65-year-old considering the role as Ukraine manager.
Redknapp has spared Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Tottenham from the drop following his appointments at those struggling clubs during his career, but the case for survival at QPR is folding quickly.
An average haul of around 36 points has seen clubs survive the drop from the top flight, but QPR will now need to at least six of their 13 remaining matches to attain that figure. That doesn't seem too tall an order to the naked eye, but the all-seeing Premier League focus will attest to a team which has won just two matches all season.
Redknapp steadied the ship on his arrival with three draws followed by a first win of the season against Fulham on Dec. 15. But all that work was undone over the Christmas period with defeats to Newcastle, West Brom and Liverpool.
A shock win at Chelsea on Jan. 2 gave QPR hope, but the team have since managed five draws in as many EPL matches, which is not nearly good enough in their current plight.
The arrivals of defender Christopher Samba, Jermaine Jenas, Loic Remy, Andros Townsend and Yun Suk-Young last month have all added to the squad, especially the former Blackburn defender, who will provide invaluable stability to a defence which has lost the experience of Ryan Nelsen.
Fernandes insists in an interview with the Daily Telegraph that his outlay on Redknapp's behalf was not a gamble but his and the club's desire to stay in the top flight with the riches of a new television deal on the horizon means needs must.
Financially, the money spent does not match up for a club with an average attendance of around 18,000 but there is sell-on value in the squad now and the club is not in the same situation as Portsmouth were when they went into administration in February 2010.
However, the club hierarchy has done its bit and it is all down to Redknapp and the players to spare QPR from the drop now.
And for every case of survival in Redknapp's career, there will also be the black mark of Southampton in May 2005. Chances are QPR will be added to that list come May.
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