Always back Harry Redknapp!
The above phrase has been a mantra in our house for over a decade. I have always liked a bit of a gamble and over the years Harry has provided me with family holidays, consumer goods and a great deal of smug satisfaction. Yet for reasons best known to themselves there have always been a large and loud group who decry Harry both personally and his skills and achievements.
Most recently the naysayers have been cranking up the pressure on QPR to dispense with the services of this remarkable manager. Granted QPR appeared to have had a poor start following their return to the Premier League. This time however owner Tony Fernandez appears to have backed a winner and is sticking with it.
Despite being bottom of the table at the start of this weekends round of fixtures the position was not near as bad as it was being made out to be and following a comfortable 2-0 win over Burnley, Rangers now move up to 17th and are only separated from several places above them on goal difference.
A realistic look at QPR’s games and results since the beginning of the season shows, that far from being relegation fodder, they are performing in a way likely to see them be less under pressure in the second half of the season than the first, and thus favourites to consolidate in the division. Harry managed this same trick after bringing Portsmouth up in the 2002/3 season and finishing in 13th place with 45 points.
The truth of QPR’s season is simply stated , so far they have beaten Burnley, Leicester, Aston Villa and Sunderland, they have drawn with Stoke and Manchester City. Both of their worst losses came early in the season to opposition likely to finish in the top 6. Harry’s men lost out by the odd goal to Hull ( opening day), Liverpool, Southampton, Chelsea and Newcastle. Two goal reverses to West Ham and Swansea make up the rest of their 15 games so far.
Thus it is clear that the Hoops are defeating most of the sides thought to be relegation favourites and others in the lower half. They are losing games to those likely to finish in the middle but are pinching points from some of those and even those higher up.
They had a very tough set of early fixtures compared to many others. After an early settling period, where the personell and the system were tweaked and changed things began to kick into life with a visit from Liverpool on October 19th. QPR looked superb for much of the game and gave Liverpool a torrid time. Although they lost the game, through naivety and surprise at the position they found themselves in, it was a turning point. The 7 games since have resulted in 3 wins 1 draw ( against Man City!) and 3 losses.
The final ingredient in the QPR survival plan will be the collapse of other sides. Whilst the Gers have been finding their feet, and improving steadily, others have started quickly and are now fading fast or have been looking better than they are while others have been improving. Leicester City are now in a spiral that could have no end, Burnley are showing but it is likely to be too little too late. Hull, West Brom have looked below par since the start of the season and with Sunderland and Palace seeming to specialise in pluck draws they too are likely to be in the mix. No doubt Aston Villa will flirt with the lower reaches but use their experience and added maturity to make a better first of it than previously. Is it likely that Harry’s men will perform worse than 3 of that group of 7
For those still doubting the wisdom of my, always back Harry, maxim, here a few more persuasive facts. Redknapp has never been relegated from the Premier League with a team he started the season with. His only two failures came when he entered clubs two late and with little or no background knowledge of club or players. The owner will be desperate not to return to the championship and pay £54 million fair play fines ( however unfair) and thus will again back Redknapp in the January transfer window.
Thus I say again ” always back Harry Redknapp”!