I’ve been squinting furiously at Queens Park Rangers since the Redknapp Revolution stormed the Bastille Loftus Road, demanding an epoch of equality and reason and the guillotine for José Bosingwa, but I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it.
Clearly, Harry has managed to gee up the boys somehow, as results have improved massively from ‘pitiful’ to merely ‘distressing’ since Mark Hughes was instructed to sit in a dark cupboard and just remember the good old days – but a lot of the upswing in performance has to be chalked up to the fact that players no longer have to worry about forgetting any part of Sparky’s Nineteen Point Guide to Handshake Etiquette. It is difficult to concentrate on through-balls when the merest salutatory faux-pas could cause so much offence that you find yourself banished on loan to Doncaster before your damp palm has been released.
I’d have thought though, as results picked up, it would have been easier to tell exactly what it is Redknapp’s doing differently on the pitch. There’s little sign yet of him settling on a formation or system, as he frantically sifts through the options in a vain attempt to make sense of a squad that seems to have been constructed with a dart, a blindfold and a 2007 Premier League Panini album. You’d have thought that Redknapp would have had a more obvious plan in motion by now, but Loftus Road does appear to become a particularly plan-resistant place in recent times. QPR may have touted their Four Year Plan in their BBC documentary, but I have to assume that was titled with the same dramatic irony that led Todd Solondz to name his 1998 film about isolation and pederasty ‘Happiness’.
It’s also slightly disappointing to be two-thirds through a transfer window with Redknapp only wheeling and/or dealing two new players into the dressing room. Even then, the capture of Loïc Remy seems a little strange, as you assume that any moneybags club that’s been on a two-year spending spree should have strikers coming out of its ears, and that resources would logically have been better spent shoring a defence whose first-choice centre-halves are a 34 year-old with less than 18 months Premier League experience and the manager-elect of Toronto FC. However, on closer inspection, QPR’s strikers actually consist of Andy Johnson (injured), Bobby Zamora (injured) and Jamie Mackie (technically Scottish) – so maybe getting some goals into the team wasn’t such a terrible idea. Besides, Harry shone the Tal Ben Haim signal into the London sky and his hero came a calling, so that’s the defence sorted anyway.
This skimpiness at the front and back of the QPR is due to them throwing their nought-heavy contracts at the finest collection of individually decent, but collectively disjointed central midfielders in the land. There’s some quality in there, but I’m not certain they’ve taken the time to learn each other’s playing styles or names. Furthermore, all the squad has in wide areas is Junior Hoilett and a fuzzy YouTube video of Shaun Wright-Phillips’ 2004-05 highlights with a Kasabian b-side playing in the background.
In short, Redknapp needs at least two centre-halves, a winger and another forward before he can build anything like a side capable keeping QPR out of the relegation dungeon – and that’s going to take some serious cash. Fortunately, the one thing QPR have got in their favour is an owner with a money-to-sense ratio as unbalanced as a trampolinist with shins made out of Slinkys. Fighting fire with fire is a terrible idea, but fighting cash with cash is roadmap to success in Tony Fernandes’ world. Just don’t set the cash on fire and everything will be fine.
Of course, the sensible thing for QPR to do would be to cut their losses, accept relegation and use it as a time to rebuild on a more even footing. Sensible things are, however, rarely on the agenda in football as whole – much less at the club who considered Djibril Cissé to be a prudent step towards a brighter future – so the only option for QPR is to fight tooth and nail to stay in the division that is ruining them. If that means funnelling a fiscal cliff into the pockets of a half-decent forward who’d be in Newcastle now if not for videogames and laziness, so be it. That’s just where QPR are now.
Nicol Hay watches a lot of sport and then writes about it. It's a compulsion, and he needs help desperately. His blogging can be found here, and you can follow him on Twitter here.