By the end, all he could really do was grin and bear it. Harry Redknapp perhaps never expected his White Hart Lane return would be a gratifying one, considering where his new team is at the moment, but he surely never expected it to go quite so badly.
Four-nil down with barely an hour gone against the club that so dramatically let him leave in the summer 2012, Redknapp cut a dejected figure on the touchline as his old side, looking more vibrant and ambitious than they have in a while, seemed to pick his current one apart at will.
The Spurs fans that used to adore him, delighted by the promise of the performance they were watching, eventually asked for Redknapp to give them a wave.
It was an awkward request for Redknapp—perhaps a no-win situation. In the end he gave a short wave, a move that clearly angered parts of the away section. If Spurs’ attacking display had their fans optimistically adjusting their hopes for the new season, then QPR’s defensive issues had their travelling supporters fearing another gruelling campaign in the top flight.
Afterwards Redknapp claimed he did not know who was asking him to wave, an odd explanation considering he presumably knows the layout of the ground as well as any manager.
"I'm sitting there, watching the game, I hear them asking me to give them a wave,” Redknapp told reporters (per The Telegraph) afterwards. “I don't know which punters are sitting up there. What's the big deal if I give them a wave?"
It is probably unwise to make predictions based on the first home performance of the season, let alone one that came against a side that—on this evidence as much as the pre-season prognostications—is likely to spend its time battling relegation.
Nacer Chadli (twice), Eric Dier and Emmanuel Adebayor grabbed the goals, with Christian Eriksen also going close on more than one occasion, but it was Erik Lamela who set the pace throughout—tormenting QPR’s defence with his direct running and eye for the right pass.
The Argentine, signed for £30 million last summer, had waited 359 days for this, his first start in the Premier League. That perhaps tells you all you need to know about his debut campaign in England, one that was beset by problems with injury, adaptation and his managers. Mauricio Pochettino, however, has made clear the ex-Roma winger will be an integral part of his plans this term, and Lamela responded to those repeated statements of faith with a performance full of conviction and authority.
“It’s different, a second season,” Pochettino told Sky Sports afterwards, when asked about Lamela. “When players come from another league or another country, they need more time.
"I’m very pleased with the performance of the team. It’s very important, we wanted to get the three points today and put in a good performance.”
Early days yet, but Pochettino appears to have revived those who struggled last year: Lamela and Chadli outstanding so far here, Capoue tidy— Dominic Fifield (@domfifield) August 24, 2014
After a bright start that saw Lamela involved in the build-up to Chadli’s opener and then provide the corner for Eric Dier’s second of the season, the fans got behind the club’s most expensive ever signing and propelled him onwards with a brilliant solo run resulting in a perfect left-footed cross for Chadli to get his second of the contest and kill off the game well before half-time.
There was little sign of the goalscoring touch that saw him notch 15 times in his last league campaign in Italy—indeed, he snatched at a couple of glorious openings—but perhaps that will come in time. For now, Spurs fans will be believing the man they signed to replace Gareth Bale is finally in a position to deliver on that daunting task.
For QPR, meanwhile, Redknapp hoped such a disjointed performance was just the result of a few new faces—Leroy Fer, Mauricio Isla—needing more time to adjust.
"It was a disappointing day," Redknapp added. “We started poorly and didn't get out of it. We could have been one down in 30 seconds.
“We looked a little bit like a team of strangers. One or two of them, I've thrown them in. Maybe one or two of them looked a bit slow on the ball and without the ball."
Lamela may have been the headline performer, but that is not to say he was the only success story. Chadli obviously scored twice in what was one of his best performances since also joining the club last summer, with Adebayor and Eriksen showing a great understanding as the Belgian worked around them.
Dier continued to look composed at right-back—"We’ll be careful with him but he showed he’s full of confidence and he showed that he’s mature," Pochettino noted—with Danny Rose on the other flank also producing a solid display against Isla, who lacked support but showed glimpses of quality.
In the centre of midfield, meanwhile, Etienne Capoue put in a dominant display, giving Spurs a balance that they have not always had in recent times. Again, the strength of the opposition should be factored in, but nevertheless Spurs looked fast and inventive on the counter-attack without ever really being exposed themselves going the other way.
"It’s very important for the confidence and for the team taking shape, it’s good," Pochettino acknowledged. "We are only in the beginning of the season but it’s good for our confidence.
“We need to develop and we need to improve more to achieve our goals."
Early days obvs but Spurs' speed on the break today after winning the ball back was a bit Borussia Dortmund.— Jack Pitt-Brooke (@JackPittBrooke) August 24, 2014
Spurs still have some way to go before they can realistically talk about achieving chairman Daniel Levy’s longer-term aim, which must surely be for Pochettino to emulate Redknapp’s tenure and deliver a top four finish and Champions League qualification.
Redknapp, meanwhile, now has a week to devote towards his favourite pursuit—bringing in further players. Some of those might even come from Tottenham, although QPR's real issues might be deeper than personnel.
"We have still got a couple of domestic loans, which we might try and do if we can find someone," said Redknapp. "Tottenham can pick two teams. There'll be some decent players out there who won't get in the 25-man squad.
“We'll have to wait and see. People like [Andros] Townsend and Sandro were not even on the bench today. You'd love to have them in your team."