QPR: Pressure on Harry Redknapp Increases Dramatically After Dubai 'Holiday'
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Queens Park Rangers might be anchored to the foot of the Premier League, but that did not stop squad members from treating a training trip to Dubai as "a holiday," according to a report in The Mirror.
The West London club are fighting relegation to the Championship after a dismal campaign, which has seen Harry Redknapp's team win just two league matches all season.
QPR manager Redknapp did not stay in the same hotel as the squad, according to the report, but he claimed on Friday that they “trained harder on this trip than on any trip I’ve ever been on."
However, three Rangers players revealed in the newspaper report that players were out "until 3am, 4am, 5am – and then went to training at 8am" and "two or three players" could not train the following day after staying up drinking. The trip was described by one player as akin to "a stag party."
QPR head of media and communications Ian Taylor said today that the club would not be making any further comment at this time: "The club is aware of the article in today's Daily Mirror but the club's entire focus is on today's fixture against Southampton. We will be making no further comment at this time."
However, the most damaging aspect of the Mirror article is the revelation that there is a divide in the squad between players who will take a wage cut if the club go down and those who won't.
QPR owner Tony Fernandes has ploughed millions into the club in a bid to prevent demotion to the Championship this season, particularly after the failure of Mark Hughes' reign at Loftus Road, which was ended in November when Redknapp took over.
But while there has been a slight upsurge in results since the former Tottenham and Portsmouth boss took over, QPR are still mired in the relegation dogfight.
Of course, such schisms within a squad and misbehaviour abroad are nothing new to football clubs. The most famous piece of "mischief" arguably remains Stan Collymore letting off a fire extinguisher while with his new Leicester City teammates in Portugal in 1999, reported by BBC Sport.
But Martin O'Neill's team were cemented in the Premier League and preparing for their triumph in the Worthington Cup Final against Tranmere Rovers at that point. The incident was more a result of the striker being one of the most controversial figures in the game at that point.
However, the revelation of a QPR squad split at such a crucial stage of the campaign will be additional heartbreak to supporters and Fernandes.
QPR returned to the top flight in 2011 after a 15-year absence and struggled to escape relegation last season. Only Bolton's draw at Stoke on the last day of the campaign prevented them from losing their top-flight status after just one year.
Their run-in to the end of the season offers no room for easing off with trips to Fulham, Everton and Liverpool and home games against Sunderland, Stoke and Arsenal coming up before the campaign finishes.
However, the Mirror report also offers a brutal swipe at Redknapp from one of the QPR players: “The manager is supposed to be the leader, but a lot of us think he’s going to leave in the summer as well. If that’s the case how is he going to get the players going?”
Redknapp can respond to that one comfortably by keeping Rangers up, but for QPR supporters, the glass must look distinctly half empty now.
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