Relegated QPR should replace Harry Redknapp as manager

PUBLISHED: 15:04 29 April 2013 | UPDATED: 15:37 29 April 2013

Harry Redknapp

Harry Redknapp

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Relegation usually heralds an outpouring of emotions among supporters of any club as they try to come to terms with their side’s descent.

Foremost among these is the demand for a scapegoat, someone to shoulder the blame for the club’s wretched season and whose head must roll – if it hasn’t already.

QPR fans have a ready-made candidate in former manager Mark Hughes, the villain who squandered colossal amounts of cash on an already bloated squad that failed to win a single game at the start of the season.

While few would step in to defend Hughes and his woeful record, it seems strange that many fans hold him solely responsible for Rangers’ demise, while his replacement is viewed as largely blameless.

Yes, Harry Redknapp arrived with QPR already in a dreadful predicament at the foot of the Premier League and keeping them up was always going to be a difficult task.

However, Rangers had almost two thirds of their league fixtures still to play, and their record since Redknapp took over – averaging less than a point a game – represents relegation form in its own right.

It could hardly be said that the Rs went down with a brave fight and in recent weeks, as their fate neared its inevitable conclusion, Redknapp’s message became one of shoulder-shrugging, implying that there was little he could do to motivate players he had not personally signed.

Leaving aside the fact that he did actually bring in five players of his own choosing – including two who shattered the club’s transfer record – surely a decent manager should be able to get the best out of players he inherits.

One of the most successful managers in QPR’s recent history, Gerry Francis, specialised in that. Les Ferdinand, Andy Sinton, Clive Wilson, Darren Peacock… none of them were signed by Francis but all improved beyond recognition under his guidance.

By contrast, Redknapp knows only one way to manage. Never mind working with players to maximise their potential – the answer is always to sign some more.

Already he is making noises about ‘bringing in one or two’ – which will no doubt translate into six or seven. That kind of approach is one of the main reasons Rangers are where they are.

Nothing in Redknapp’s past record suggests he is the right man to oversee a major rebuilding programme in the Championship.

His promotion success with Portsmouth came about by throwing money at ageing internationals such as Paul Merson and Teddy Sheringham – and the continuation of that policy put the club’s existence in serious jeopardy.

Having taken Southampton down in 2005, he then failed to get them pushing for promotion before jumping ship midway through the following season to rejoin their arch-rivals at Fratton Park.

Redknapp’s only loyalty is to himself. If he starts next season in charge at Loftus Road, who would bet against him leaving the club in turmoil should a more lucrative offer come along in six months’ time?

Last time QPR dropped out of the Premier League, manager Ray Wilkins kept his job – largely on the basis that fans held owner Richard Thompson responsible for the club’s demotion.

But Wilkins departed just a few weeks into the following season and, by the time Stewart Houston was appointed as his successor and begun building his own team, too much ground had been lost in the race for promotion.

Current owner Tony Fernandes has made numerous mistakes in his two years at the club. But if he wants to start rectifying those, he must get rid of Redknapp NOW.

Fernandes never bothered to search for a manager when he sacked Hughes, any more than he did after dismissing Neil Warnock. Instead he appointed the first big-name and out of work manager whose name was put forward.

Redknapp was a short-term gamble, but the gamble has failed. Now the best course of action would be to terminate his contract, put a caretaker boss in charge for the last three games of the season, and advertise the vacancy.

That is what would happen in any other industry, with candidates invited to submit their CVs. Fernandes should aim to attract a young, hungry manager who could get QPR back on track over a three or four-year period.

Redknapp is right about one thing – returning to the Premier League in the near future will be anything but easy. But Rangers will have a better chance of doing it without him.

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