Wednesday, 28 November 2012

A Stitch In Time

They say a week is a long time in football and when it comes to Queens Park Rangers it is no different. But in QPR’s case they cram everything into the end of a week. The loss last Saturday to Southampton lead to frenzied expectation of Hughes dismissal, which peaked on Monday when reports falsely emerged that Hughes had gone. After suffering the disappointment that Hughes was still in charge, it began to look as if a reprieve until Christmas was on the cards. Then on the seventh day, on the Friday morning, came the welcome news that Fernandes had finally agreed to fire Hughes. But why then? On the eve of our visit to Man Utd? The club said it took time to get the directors together as many were in different parts of the world. Or was it because the likelihood of any points at Old Trafford were very slim and we had to act fast to get the man we had in mind to replace Hughes. (Before he accepted alternative, highly lucrative employment managing the Ukraine national side!)

Harry Redknapp committed to QPR
What was the reason for Tony’s change of heart? Did he finally see sense or did he succumb to pressure from the fans? Some are saying he fired Hughes reluctantly, under pressure from the rest of the board as he found himself alone in his support for Hughes. The same board that was duped into hiring Hughes because Fernandes and Beard favoured his supposed business like, middle class persona, which, like his ability, proved to be non-existent. His tenure was a waste of eleven months and I could never thank him for his time at QPR. Yes we survived relegation last season, but it was not because of him, more like despite of him. Hughes has proved to be an abject failure since his appointment leaving us in a much worse position than when he took over from Neil Warnock. He was guilty of bad man management and bad buying in the transfer market as he relied heavily on dealing within the circles of his agent in another example of his “jobs for the boys” mentality that also saw him employ his inadequate coaching staff. Hughes never was, and was never going to be, suited to QPR and his appointment was down to the bad judgement of the board, with Fernandes and Beard the protagonists. Good bye Leslie, statistically the worst manager in QPR history, good riddance and don’t come back.
So onto Saturday’s game at Old Trafford with Bowen and Neidzwiecki in charge for one game only (hopefully their last) as QPR officially announced the appointment of Harry Redknapp as QPR manager. Hardly a surprise to the world of football, but very popular with the majority of R's fans. The R’s starting eleven contained five players that earned promotion under Warnock and they lead by example with a grittier, hardworking and fighting performance (sadly lacking a week ago) and that encouraged our newer acquisitions to follow suit. QPR held their own for 60 minutes even taking the lead before and 8 minute period of capitulation saw the R’s ship three goals, two of which were headers from corners when we had four centre halves in the back four, Hughes legacy to our defending. Mbia looked comfortable as he continued to find his feet in the premiership. Mackie deservedly got our goal as he epitomised everything that we want a QPR player to be. He would die for QPR and loves to play. When he is picked, that’s exactly what he does, plays his heart out for our club and never lets us down. He’s still on a championship contract unlike some of the newer acquisitions on their hyper inflated, premier league, “lottery winners” contracts that could do with following Mackie’s example. We predictably left Old Trafford without any points, but didn’t get the credit we really deserved, as Harry watched from the stands ready to take the reins starting with training on Sunday.
Mackie - would die for QPR
Harry was always set on getting back in the Premiership and seeing as he’s never managed a club north of Tottenham and we are south of Tottenham and in the Premier League you can be sure Harry has had one eye on the goings on at QPR for the last few weeks. At this moment in time, Harry suits us and we suit Harry and his appointment is very good for our club. He is straight talking and fits the mould of the “QPR type” and is in keeping with QPR’s traditions and the way we like to play the game. I would never have dreamed that Harry would be a QPR manager in a million years and I think we are fortunate to have him, even though he has one or two minor shortcomings. He has made his mistakes and had his share of bad buys and he does tend to have a large entourage of staff, but I think he has learned from them and he does have an excellent record and a way of getting the best from his players. He did wonders at Pompey and I think he is more comfortable with that kind of club and we fit that bill. I think it’s a good time for Harry Redknapp and QPR to be together.
Harry took training on Sunday with his usual assistants Kevin Bond and Joe Jordan, whose appointments to QPR are imminent. Training went well and it was reported that the players’ spirits were the best they have been for some time. It would seem Harry has done his homework and is quite knowledgeable of the group of players he has inherited. QPR officially unveiled their new manager on Monday and Harry was quick to tell the players exactly why we are bottom of the league. He told them they haven’t worked hard enough and don’t run after the ball, simple as that. He also told them, if they don’t start to work hard and run, then he will find eleven players who will. He continued that the position we are in is an embarrassment and it’s up to the players to work hard and get us out of this. Words that we are not aware of being spoken before by Harry’s predecessor, maybe because the players responsible were his (Hughes) acquisitions and it may have looked detrimental to him or maybe because he was just plain arrogant. Either way Harry has told them what’s what and it is now up to Harry to knit these players together and try and get us out of the mire. Harry also showed that he was committed to QPR and that QPR was now his families club, exactly what we want to hear from a QPR manager, I just hope his son Jamie will now be a little less scathing of us in the media.

Redknapp - told the players what's what
With little time to prepare, Harry took the R’s up to Sunderland on Tuesday in a game that we had to get something from. Harry picked a solid midfield including Mbia, Diakite and Granero. Mackie started again as did Taarabt and Cisse. Interestingly Hill partnered Nelson at centre half as Nelson prefers playing there with Hill. Bosingwa and Traore completed the back four who on the whole were pretty solid and never looked like conceding from set pieces. Cesar picked up an injury and was replaced by Green at half time and returned a solid performance as QPR managed to earn only their second clean sheet of the season with a much better performance from the team taking a point in a goalless draw. Park came on for Diakite who was again booked (Harry taking no risks for a 2nd Yellow) and SWP also got a late run out and failed to convert our best chance of the game. More importantly the attitude and effort was much improved, had they performed at this level all season we would not be in the position we are in at the moment. We could do with winning more of the aerial battles and getting the ball to Mackie more, but this was an improvement and there are more positives than negatives to take away from this game.
So after one game, Harry has amassed half the away points that Hughes managed in almost a year. It’s not going to be easy to get out of the mess we are in and we have to be fair to Harry because survival is a massive ask. A lot will depend on how we do in the remaining six games to the transfer window, when Harry will be able to change things round a bit more. (Dawson and a striker in and a bit of a fire sale.) I would say if we can get to January 1st on 15 points, the same points as last season, then Harry will get us out of this. It’s the next six games that are going to be massive, so we’ll need 10 points from 18 with what Harry’s got to work with at the moment.
I just hope that Hughes dismissal and Harry’s appointment was a stitch in time and that we haven’t left it too late. A lot rests on the games up to the end of the year, we have no more margin for error, and it is “must do” now, starting with Villa at home Saturday. Should we fail in our fight for survival, we have at least taken steps to ensure we have someone in place that is capable and has the stomach to fight and get us back at the earliest opportunity? Hopefully it will not come to that and the right decision has been made to save our season.
Wigan is our next away game the week after Villa home, it’s a really good away day and only £20.00 to get in and £5.00 for under 16’s. Our allocation is over 2000 tickets and it’s well worth going to. This could be our first away win in over a year, try and get along and support Harry’s Blue and White Army.
Come on you R’s
The Bush Ranger

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