Time for Redknapp to deliver after latest batch of QPR signings
PUBLISHED: 17:17 03 February 2014 | UPDATED: 09:11 04 February 2014
The transfer window is closed, the deals are done and for Harry Redknapp the hard work starts now. At the end of another busy deadline day in Shepherd’s Bush the QPR manager had added six new names to his squad, bringing his total for the season to 17 – now it is time to deliver.
Redknapp’s new arrivals were an eclectic mix. From Kevin Doyle and Aaron Hughes, worldly journeymen of Premier League pedigree, to West Ham United outcast Madibo Maiga and Manchester United youngster Will Keane. Then there was Guilherme Dellatorre, a 21-year-old forward from Atletico Paranense whom Redknapp essentially admitted he knew nothing about, and teenager Coll Donaldson from Livingstone.
Having spent most of January saying that QPR needed another striker Redknapp – in typical Redknapp fashion – went out and signed four. Two of them, Doyle and Maiga, featured in QPR’s stirring 3-3 draw with Burnley on Saturday, and the initial results were encouraging.
Doyle took less than seven minutes to open his account, heading Niko Kranjcar’s corner past Tom Heaton. Maiga replaced Andy Johnson in the second half and tapped in Junior Hoilett’s cross to earn the point which kept Rangers one step ahead of their rivals in the race for promotion.
Of all the Redknapp’s deadline-day signings, Maiga is the most interesting and, alongside Doyle, potentially the most influential. Signed by West Ham from Sochaux for £4.7 million in 2012, he has gradually fallen out of favour at Upton Park.
Maiga trained at QPR, with Redknapp initially deciding against signing the 26-year-old. His mind was changed by Charlie Austin’s shoulder injury, which will keep QPR’s top-scorer out for most of the rest of the season, perhaps all of it.
Maiga’s scoring record for West Ham is far from impressive – just two in 19 games this season and four in 23 appearances during the last campaign. Redknapp, though, believes the Mali international can make an impact.
“That may be the case, but I don’t think that will concern Harry,” said assistant manager Kevin Bond when it was put to him that Maiga has been less than prolific at West Ham. “For whatever reason, he was not doing himself justice previously. Both Harry and I had seen him play prior to him going to West Ham, and we felt that maybe he has a little more to offer than he had shown.”
There is less of a question-mark over Doyle, who looked and sounded determined to grasp his new lease of life at QPR. Doyle had failed to find the net in his last 15 games in all competitions for Wolves, and has struggled to rediscover the form he showed at Reading earlier in his career.
“Did I need a change? That’s fair to say,” said the 30-year-old Republic of Ireland international. “A number of lads at Wolves have done the same in the last year. Ideally I would have liked to have stayed, but this was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.”
In substituting Austin for Doyle, Redknapp has essentially replaced like-for-like. Doyle’s intelligent running and energy provide a sharp focal point to QPR’s attack. Like Austin, Doyle combined well with Johnson, who is playing an increasingly key role in the side.
Of Redknapp’s other signings, Aaron Hughes, brought in as a replacement for injured right-back Danny Simpson, appears a shrewd addition for his knowledge of the game.
With well over 400 career appearances for Fulham, Aston Villa and Newcastle United, Hughes brings experience to the defence. QPR will, however, lose the attacking thrust that Simpson provided.
Redknapp’s third striker, Keane, represents a strange signing. Redknapp says the 21-year-old forward has “fantastic potential”, but given his reluctance to give his younger players game time – think Tom Hitchcock – Keane may find himself warming the bench rather more than he expects.
Dellatorre faces a similar conundrum. In Redknapp’s own words: “I’d be lying if I said I’d seen him play. One of our scouts had watched him a couple of times and liked him, so the owner was quite keen. He’s not fit at the moment, he’s just arrived, but we’ll see how he goes.”
While Dellatorre and Keane may find themselves in the background, Redknapp has pinned his hopes on Maiga and Doyle to score the goals which, in Austin’s absence, have been lacking.
“Harry is shrewd when it comes to dealing in the transfer market and he has an amazing instinct for these things,” added Bond after the Burnley draw. “He can almost sniff out a player and I hope he’s proved right again.”
It will be difficult to find an excuse if he is not.
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