Beat around the Bush: Cesar stays, and QPR may just have to take their medicine
- Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images
Rangers blogger Clive Whittingham takes a look at the curious case of a player who nobody expected to still be at Loftus Road
As the summer transfer window slammed shut (in the interests of hype, it never merely closes) QPR were left to reflect on three months of hard work well done.
The spectre of unwanted players hanging around Harlington, collecting their money and contributing nothing, has been lifted in a variety of creative ways. It’s been costly, but that will hopefully help guard against the mistakes being repeated.
Harry Redknapp deserves great credit for not only the wheeling and dealing (perhaps don’t put it that way if you speak to him personally) but also getting a team out onto the field capable of winning four and drawing one during a tough looking August. That team has now been supplemented with Little Tom Carroll and Niko Kranjcar who will add class and guile to a team that’s been little more than functional so far.
But one issue remains unresolved – the goalkeepers.
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Typically, it’s a problem entirely of QPR’s own making. In Paddy Kenny they had an adequate keeper who had played well for the club and had a good relationship with the supporters, but they bombed him out in favour of a replacement of equal (if that) ability on twice as much money.
Having made that decision to add Robert Green to the set up a year ago Rangers then either panicked when he played dreadfully during pre-season and the early league games, or had their eyes widened by the sudden availability of Julio Cesar, or both. It was hard to argue against taking up the opportunity of signing such a high quality player at the time, but one lesson Rangers have hopefully learnt from their spell in the top flight is that it’s about the team and the ethos rather than the name and reputation.
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Signing Green and then replacing him in the same transfer window – by no means the only time Mark Hughes and Neil Warnock did that during the past two years – sent out totally the wrong message: players would be selected and bought on their name, rather than any sort of footballing reason. Ultimately neither Green nor Cesar – apart from one excellent six week period through January and February – covered themselves in glory last season.
This summer the situation seemed pretty clear. Rob Green would be the number one keeper for QPR in the Championship – partly because it’s his level and he usually plays well at it, mainly because the wage he’s earning at QPR will put off any potential suitor. Cesar would spend the summer getting fixed up with a big club.
And that’s how it seemed to be panning out: Green has started the season reasonably well, although the penchant for conceding daisy cutters from 30 yards has been replaced with a fetish for playing the defenders in front of him into trouble with suicidal passes and throws; and Cesar has been linked to Napoli, Benfica and Arsenal.
But when Jim White fastened the lock on the latest three months of tedious transfer sagas and gross hyperbole last Monday, Cesar remained at the club.
Personally, and I’ve had some stick for this, I think that’s pure greed on the part of the Brazilian. With the last World Cup of his professional career approaching at the end of the year in his homeland I cannot believe he would turn down the opportunity to be the first choice at Champions League club Napoli in favour of sitting tight at Championship QPR because they won’t match the wages he earns in London. Surely Cesar isn’t short of a bob or two and could probably get by on whatever Napoli offered him? Liverpool’s Pepe Reina had no such trouble accepting the Italian club’s offer after all.
Others say he’s exactly right to stay put. The classic, flawed, comparison between the standard office job and being a footballer has been trotted out a few times – would you walk out on a £30k a year contract for a £20k one just because your current employer wanted you to? No, of course not, but if I was already filthy stinking rich and my current company had made it pretty clear I was going to spend the next 12 months doing inventory in the stock cupboard I might consider it.
The most likely outcome seems to be Cesar moving to a country where the transfer window remains open – Turkey, Russia and his homeland can still trade players I believe. But then Cesar says he has “never thought about leaving QPR”. That, given the interviews his agent has been giving this summer, falls into the “how stupid do you think we are?” category, although he does seem very taken with London so perhaps he is happy to stay where he is whether he’s playing or not. If that’s the case, QPR will have to take their medicine – they weren’t forced into offering him that contract, or signing him at all.
Redknapp may, as he did with Joey Barton, return him to the first team at no notice at all. Such a possibility would motivate many goalkeepers – has Joe Hart’s Man City form ever been as good as it was when he was competing with Shay Given for the spot, for instance? – but I’m not sure it will do a lot for Rob Green.
When one of his blue-light passes to a full back sailed straight into touch at Huddersfield he responded to grumbles from the away end by spinning round and shouting that it was “just one mistake”. He’s never struck me as a keeper that stands up well to competition, pressure and criticism; more somebody who needs an arm around him and constant reassurance. I’m guessing of course, that might be nonsense, but I think he’d be a lot more comfortable if Cesar had moved on.
Mark Hughes’ handling of this situation a year ago was dire so this is one for Redknapp to marshal carefully.