Football: Different manager, same old story. The expected boost for bottom of the league Queens Park Rangers courtesy of the arrival of Harry Redknapp, or what many were calling the Harry factor, lasted just eight minutes.
All week the club had been sending out messages of encouragement to supporters about raising the Loftus Road roof for yet another must-win game.
Redknapp promised he would send his team out to “give the fans something to cheer.” Cheers soon turned to fears, a familiar feeling at Loftus Road this campaign.
Brett Holman silenced the hosts with a powerful volley that slipped through the grasps of QPR goalkeeper Robert Green to put Aston Villa in front with their first attack.
This was the sixth time this season Rangers have conceded first inside 16 minutes. Whether it’s Mark Hughes or Redknapp in the dug-out, this team are notorious slow starters.
This left the Rs, who haven’t scored two goals in a home game since April, with a mountain to climb. However Jamie Mackie has forged a career of tackling impossible challenges and equalised before half-time with a brave header.
He had no right to win a rather hopeful Samba Diakite cross, but determinedly directed his effort into the far corner.
But the quest to break the longest winless start to a top-flight season since Swindon’s 15-match run during the 1993-94 season was in vain.
Villa were strong in defence and, although Shaun Wright-Phillips and Clint Hill hit the woodwork, the well-drilled visitors were comfortable in the closing stages.
“Villa kept the ball late on without going anywhere — it was difficult,” said Redknapp, whose side sit seven points from safety.
“Overall, most of the chances fell to us, we just couldn’t get the second goal that we needed. The atmosphere was fantastic. That’s just what we needed. We’re in a difficult position. There’s no doubt about that.”