Football comment: Harry Redknapp takes charge of Queens Park Rangers for the first time tomorrow night as the Premier League basement boys travel to Sunderland.
The former Spurs boss replaces Mark Hughes, who was given his marching orders on Friday after taking just four points from 12 games.
Having watched his side sink to the bottom of the top flight, Rs chairman Tony Fernandes had no sooner pulled the trigger before moving swiftly to bring Redknapp in.
The club’s Malaysian owner gave substantial backing to Hughes, allowing him to sign established Premier League stars on bulky contracts as well as revamping the way the club was run behind the scenes.
All this has come at a cost. Hughes rolled the dice with this type of transfer policy rather than slowly building a team around the core of the successful promotion side that was put together by Neil Warnock — and thus far their numbers haven’t come up.
The squad is poorly balanced, lacking motivation and staring down the barrel of relegation. Hence the call to Redknapp.
Some cynics have called the two a perfect fit — a money-driven big-name managing a squad full of, well, money-driven big names. But in their current predicament QPR couldn’t really say no to him.
Under Hughes, despite their dramatic escape from relegation last season, QPR mirrored the identity of the man at the helm — grey and uninteresting.
When Warnock, who achieved promotion in 2011, was kicked out of the door in January, the board also dealt a blow to their relationship with the club’s loyal supporters.
Emotionally Hughes never really let his guard down in public. The Rangers fans never got a glimpse of his lighter side, something that, contrary to belief, he does possess.
Whether it would be on the touchline or in his press duties, his seemingly arrogant nature made it almost impossible for him to form a relationship with his paying public.
Of course, results didn’t help either as he notched up just six wins from 30 games in charge while, remarkably, claiming only two points away from home.
Historically QPR are a club that thrives off charismatic leaders. Ian Holloway and Warnock knew how to rally the fans and they always sent out teams that would be able to lift the crowd with high- tempo, energetic performances.
Hughes was more of a meticulous preparer than a man-motivator and by the end it was this inability to fire up his players that played a huge part in him losing the respect of the fans, reportedly the dressing room, and finally his job.
So, can the East-End boy work his magic in the west? Short term — without a doubt. Redknapp’s managerial style is totally different to that of Hughes. He likes to get to know his players, to build a rapport with them and to treat them like human beings. He brings smiles to faces. It’s this fun factor that QPR need more than ever right now and the fans are also likely to respond positively.
In contrast, Hughes is a tactician. A thinker. His robotic approach to management has, and will, work in the future for him. But at Rangers, a club that thrives off expressive football and big personalities, it just wasn’t the right fit.
The quality of this QPR side has never been in doubt. If Redknapp can focus their individual skills and commitment to a group effort, then their Premier League status should take care of itself.
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