This past Sunday evening Harry Redknapp had just seen his Queens Park Rangers side dismantled by a Liverpool team led by Luis Suarez, the press were calling it the impossible job amid rumours of squad disharmony and poor defending with Harry Redknapp himself admitting it was going to be tough to keep QPR in the Premier League. Since then QPR have beaten the European Champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, a result that will have brought bookmakers everywhere to their knees with it being only QPR’s second league win of the season.
Shaun Derry was brought back into the QPR starting line-up and with him came a sense of pride and a steely determination to give everything to the cause and this is something that has been missing from QPR throughout this season with the concoction of stars signed on ludicrously high wages seemingly not pulling their weight. With the second half of the season upon us and the January transfer window open this is where the real test for Harry Redknapp begins, what players can he bring in to save QPR from what a couple of days ago was destined relegation.
The first issue Harry Redknapp has to address is keeping his best players, with the clubs future in England’s top flight still hugely uncertain it wouldn’t be a surprise for some of Rangers’ better players to be on the lookout for a move this January. There has been significant discussion surrounding the future of the enigma that is Adel Taarabt, the Moroccan this year has been at the centre of everything good about QPR in terms of their attacking play and this has done little to douse interest in him from other top flight clubs in England and across Europe however Harry Redknapp just has to keep hold of him.
Taarabt whilst he can at times seem uninterested he really is one of the few players in the QPR dressing room who can make something out of absolutely nothing whenever he is in possession of the ball and this is an important quality to have in a team that is vying for survival as clear cut chances might not always be created, you may need to snatch a 1-0 victory after a backs to the wall performance just like at Stamford Bridge yesterday evening and Adel Taarabt is a player who can make those moments happen.
Djibril Cisse is another centre forward who will guarantee goals and despite having gotten off to a rough start with Redknapp following Cisse’s poor display and resulting half time substitution against Liverpool the Frenchman must be given another chance. Cisse plays with passion and this has been evident on several occasions this year in particular in Rangers’ 1-1 home draw with Reading. This passion if it is contained which has been a problem with Cisse at times throughout his whole career and not just his time in London will serve Rangers well in their bid for survival and Harry must work on his relationship with the former Auxerre man to keep him at the football club.
It would be a huge blow for QPR to lose Cisse this January as strikers who can find the net like he can are very difficult to come by especially in the January transfer window and with the long term injuries to Andrew Johnson who will unlikely feature again before the end of the season and Bobby Zamora it is an area which Harry Redknapp simply cannot afford to deplete any further.
With these injuries QPR are relying on Cisse and Jamie Mackie to provide goals and if you are a team wanting to stay in the Premier League you realistically have to have more than two fit centre forwards. Jay Bothroyd has in the past couple of days returned to the club following his loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday and it is expected he will be brought back into the side by Harry Redknapp to take the pressure off Mackie and Cisse although it would not be a surprise should QPR enter the market for another striker.
QPR this season as well as having struggled to score goals with Rangers sitting level with Aston Villa on 17 goals scored, the lowest in the Premier League, it is the defence that has been a real worry for me. There looks to be very little cohesion at the back despite having experienced footballers such as Anton Ferdinand, Ryan Nelson and Nedum Onuoha in the side. The first half performance against Liverpool illustrated this on numerous occasions with the positional play of QPR’S defence being less than adequate and the marking from set pieces being almost nonexistent. Jamie Redknapp last night stated that following Sunday’s defeat to Liverpool it was the lowest he had ever seen his father and with his side defending like that it is little wonder why.
There is quality in the Rangers defence yet they simply haven’t gelled together or developed a defensive rhythm with each other, if you look at the best Premier League teams in recent seasons they have numerous pairs at the back who all have created a rhythm of playing together, at Manchester United there has been Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic with Ferdinand as the ball playing defender and Vidic as the ball winner at the back. Chelsea had Ricardo Carvalho and John Terry who formed a similar partnership during Mourinho and Chelsea’s greatest years and this is something that must happen at QPR.
More importantly I feel that QPR need a leader, yes they have Shaun Derry and Clint Hill but a leader who has a greater experience of top level football and Harry Redknapp need look no further than his captain at Tottenham Hotspur, Michael Dawson. Tottenham were willing to let Michael Dawson move to QPR in the summer however the move fell apart as a result of personal terms not being agreed by both parties however with Harry Redknapp now in charge it is far more likely Dawson would be willing to link up with his former boss to try and keep QPR in the division.
Dawson a leader on the pitch would have a great impact on the dressing room and his experiences of playing at the very top level in European football with Spurs will do much to aid the confidence in the QPR backline. Dawson if brought into the side would help transform the QPR defence from the naive rabble that were on the pitch against Liverpool to a well drilled, organised and most importantly solid defensive line in the run up to the business end of the season.
This wouldn’t be the first time that Redknapp has looked to his former players to aid him in a new job with the former Bournemouth manager having signed Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe both from Portsmouth to aid his Tottenham side’s charge to European Cup qualification. Redknapp has also confirmed in the last twenty four hours that Tal Ben-Haim has been training with QPR, Ben-Haim having worked under Redknapp at Portsmouth would be a surprise move in the eyes of many with the Israeli defender not looking like a player who can dig in and help a club fight for survival however Redknapp having worked closely with Ben-Haim before will no better than anyone what he brings to a team.
If Harry Redknapp can address the aforementioned problems then there is no reason why Queens Park Rangers can’t stay up, they have got good quality players in the squad who have experience at the top level and now it is simply a case of getting them organised and there is no better manager to do this than Harry Redknapp. There are lots of other teams around QPR who on paper have a thinner squad with far less individual quality however it is their organised nature and team spirit that is setting them apart from the Loftus Road club at this moment in time and if Harry Redknapp can add to his squad and organise his star players then there is every chance that results will improve and QPR will slowly climb up the table. It will undoubtedly be Redknapp’s greatest managerial challenge yet it is an achievable one which the former Hammers boss will relish.
QPR will look to build on their midweek win at Chelsea this weekend with a home fixture in the FA Cup against a West Brom side who of late have been stuttering following defeats to Manchester United and more surprisingly at home to Fulham. Harry Redknapp will be hoping to take advantage of this and build a cup run that will only boost the Loftus Road faithful after an opening half of the campaign which has had very little for them to cheer about.
Written By Chris Winterburn
You can follow Chris Winterburn on twitter via @Chriswin4
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