Queens Park Rangers and Wigan Athletic are one win away from the most lucrative match in world football after playing out a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final at the JJB Stadium.
With QPR taking the Latics back to West London, Harry Redknapp will be confident of leading his men into the final at Wembley.
Both clubs are aiming to bounce back into the top flight after one season in the Championship and will face either Derby County of Brighton & Hove Albion in the final.
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Date: Monday, May 12
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Can Harry Redknapp Take QPR Up at the 1st Time of Asking?
Harry has built a reputation over the years for turning clubs around. Few expected to see him stay at Loftus Road after the Hoops were relegated last season.
However, Redknapp has made good on his wheeler-dealer credentials as well as his man-management skills by balancing wise old heads Jermaine Jenas and Nico Krancjar with up-and-coming players such as Charlie Austin.
In an age of dull soundbites, the Premier League needs Redknapp—only so much of the creative burden can by carried by Jose Mourinho.
But in Uwe Rosler, Wigan have a wily operator as manager. The German has carefully built the momentum in Wigan's season. QPR may hold a slender home advantage, but the one-off nature of this tie should nullify most of the advantage.
Pressure? What Pressure?
Never quite the master of football's psychological battles, Redknapp still knows all the tricks in the book. Therefore, it may have taken Rosler aback when Redknapp declared that Wigan were favourites despite needing an away victory to progress to Wembley.
As reported by The Press Association (h/t The Guardian), both managers are declaring their admiration for one another, seemingly wishing to deflect any pressure from their men.
What we have now is 'pressure bingo.' I was preparing myself today and thinking: 'I'm not going in that direction.' But when Harry says we are the clear favourites for promotion then I have to smile a little bit about that one.
Harry said we have the best squad – I think we have a very good squad – but Harry has probably three times a bigger wage budget than we have.
Every team that's in the play-offs deserves to be in the play-offs. We face in QPR a team with a lot of experience, a lot of Premier League quality in their squad and they can raise their standards on the day like we can
We have this one finely poised. QPR come in with a slight home advantage, but Wigan have the momentum, and the team with that momentum is often rewarded with promotion come Wembley.
Much will fall to Charlie Austin, who must reproduce his form if QPR are to break down a stubborn Wigan side.
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