Harry’s Back: Redknapp named manager at QPR

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It seems like he’s been gone for a while, but in reality, new Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp has only missed four months’ worth of matches. Dismissed by Daniel Levy and Tottenham Hotspur this summer, the former West Ham, Portsmouth, and Southampton boss is back on the sidelines at Loftus Road just in time for a transfer window, a great service to Sky Sports News producers expected to shoot a deadline day Redknapp through a Benz’ window.

It’s all part of the surreal comedy that surrounds one of England’s best managers. Perhaps he’s not quite the coup that QPR’s release claims (after all, where there really any better options for him?), but he’s about as good as Rangers could have hoped to land. Judging by his success as Spurs, where he guided Tottenham to two top four finishes, he’s certainly an upgrade over the man they let go. Instead of being run by someone perpetually weighed down by a perceived lack of respect (and attitude that extends back to Mark Hughes’ playing days), QPR gets a man with clear shoulders.

They also get a bit of a media whore. And Redknapp’s sure to make bids for Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe in the January window. Now QPR fans are the ones that get to make jokes about `Arry throwing 11 guys out there and seeing what happens, though his self-proclaimed tactical agnosticism has long been debunked. The smarmy relationship with the press that creates a tabloid boardroom – it’s all part of his charm. Redknapp will give Rangers fans plenty to talk about off the field should he fail to change fortunes on.

Those fortunes have left QPR without a win, the only Premier League team that’s failed to claim three points all season. They have the worst goal difference in the league and are six points away from safety, albeit with 26 matches left in the season. It’s a record that leaves few questions about whether Hughes deserved to stay on; rather, it’s unclear what took chairman Tony Fernandes so long to make a move. As bold as QPR have been with their checkbook, they were far less so when it was time to make a change.

But that checkbook has left a stocked cupboard for Redknapp. It’s a team that can challenge for more than a mid-table position, but there’s no reason a squad with the likes of Julio Cesar, Ndeum Onouha, Jose Bosingwa, Esteban Granero, Alejandro Faurlin, Park Ji Sung, Adel Tarrabt, Junior Hoillett and Bobby Zamora should be in this position.

QPR’s main problem has been in attack, where they’ve scored only nine goals though 12 matches. Redknapp’s teams have always been capable going forward, so their dearth of goals should end soon, especially since the mere absence of Hughes should help. All season, Rangers have looked weak and dispirited, an extension of the cloud surrounding their former manager. For QPR’s attack, there’s as much subtraction going on as addition with this managerial switch.

That switch will take full effect on Tuesday when Redknapp mans the sidelines at the Stadium of Light. Today, at Old Trafford, he’ll be on the sidelines as his new squad faces Manchester United.

Redknapp’s managerial record:

Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
Bournemouth 19 October 1983 9 June 1992 7002457000000000000457 7002180000000000000180 7002107000000000000107 7002170000000000000170 700139390000000000039.39
West Ham United 10 August 1994 9 May 2001 7002327000000000000327 7002121000000000000121 700185000000000000085 7002121000000000000121 700137000000000000037.00
Portsmouth 25 March 2002 24 November 2004 7002116000000000000116 700154000000000000054 700126000000000000026 700136000000000000036 700146550000000000046.55
Southampton 8 December 2004 2 December 2005 700149000000000000049 700113000000000000013 700121000000000000021 700115000000000000015 700126530000000000026.53
Portsmouth 7 December 2005 26 October 2008 7002128000000000000128 700154000000000000054 700129000000000000029 700145000000000000045 700142190000000000042.19
Tottenham Hotspur 26 October 2008 13 June 2012 7002198000000000000198 700198000000000000098 700150000000000000050 700150000000000000050 700149490000000000049.49
Queens Park Rangers 24 November 2012 Present 50000000000000000000 50000000000000000000 50000000000000000000 50000000000000000000 !
Total 70031274000000000001,274 7002520000000000000520 7002318000000000000318 7002437000000000000437 700140820000000000040.82

Galaxy’s Cole admits he enjoys Arsenal struggles

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
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LA Galaxy left back Ashley Cole left Arsenal for Chelsea more than a decade ago, but that hasn’t erased the bitter memories of the departure from his boyhood club.

Cole was famously involved in a “tapping up” meeting with Chelsea without Arsenal’s permission in 2005, but signed a contract extension with the Gunners. Still, he was gone a year later in messy circumstances.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

As the most capped fullback in England’s history who boasts both Premier League and Champions League titles with Chelsea, Cole easily could rest on his own laurels and move on from the divorce.

But when asked whether he’s enjoying Arsenal’s current struggles, Cole couldn’t help himself.

“If I’m honest, yeah, I still think to this day. I laugh to myself. I had a lot of history there and I think the way I left was maybe a bit dodgy but the lack of respect they showed me as well.”

Cole accepts a share of the blame for his time ended at Arsenal, but says he doesn’t regret it. Still, his response is not a picture of class.

Next time, just laugh and say, “Next question,” Ashley.

“I’m not a bad guy” – Convicted murderer, new club defend signing

AP Photo/Felipe Dana
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A week ago, we brought you the story of goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes finding a new club despite a conviction for ordering the torture and murder of his mistress, whose body was then fed to dogs. The two were having a disagreement on child support.

Fernandes, 32, was set free from jail on a technicality and has since been signed by Boa Esporte in Brazil. He said he couldn’t “throw in the towel” on his career because he believed in himself.

Fans were outraged with the team, major sponsors pulled their funding, and an activist group even hacked Boa Esporte’s web page.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

And the club is digging in its heels.

Boa Esporte’s president, Rone Moraes da Costa, reacted to protests by saying he’d rather move the team than not give Fernandes a chance to resurrect his career.

As for Fernandes, he clearly is having trouble explaining why he’s getting another chance. From The Guardian:

“What happened, happened. I made a mistake, a serious one, but mistakes happens in life – I’m not a bad guy. People tried to bury my dream because of one mistake, but I asked God for forgiveness, so I’m carrying on with my career, dude. I’m starting over.”

One mistake. Wow. There are few clubs in the world which fit the bill of being the majority of fans’ least favorite team, but Boa Esporte could get there. Surely there must be more to the story?

Nothing new about the challenges facing USMNT

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
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This next week may define a generation of USMNT players, but only if it goes poorly.

That may sound overly dramatic, but it isn’t. The United States started 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying, earned its coach a firing, and now stares down its status in the confederation.

Honduras is coming on Friday, far from a pushover. Then it’s off to Panama for another tricky tie. In a vacuum, coming up short in one of the two isn’t the end of the world, but the Yanks will be expected to take a minimum four points. Even that would be a disappointment to many.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

The crutches are gone, aside from any being used by injured players back in Germany (Bobby Wood and Fabian Johnson chief amongst them). Fifteen of Honduras’ players play domestically, and Panama isn’t much better in overall quality.

Frankly, and it’s been written before, the United States should outclass both of these foes. If Bruce Arena’s bunch doesn’t, well, it spells woe for the country’s soccer development as a whole.

For now, supporters and players have been able to cling to the thought that Jurgen Klinsmann was responsible for the Yanks’ struggles. In some ways, he most certainly was to blame for setbacks like the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico and the pathetic performance against Costa Rica that earned him a firing.

Several of the United States’ current elder statesmen have built legacies that can survive big hits. Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey may go down in history as the two biggest stars in program history (There will be an argument for both as No. 1 along with Landon Donovan and Claudio Reyna). DaMarcus Beasley is an all-timer, too.

Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, and Jozy Altidore are on track for that, too, and there’s an argument to be made the trio is already there, especially for Cameron, who’s a mainstay in the Premier League. Each has found success in Europe after getting their starts in Major League Soccer, and have etched their names into the national record books.

There’s still very little reason to believe the USMNT will miss the 2018 World Cup even with the 0-2 start. The class is just too much to consider the Yanks will finish below Panama, Honduras, and Trinidad and Tobago over the course of 10 matches (The fourth place side gets a shot at an Asian side like Saudi Arabia, UAE, or Uzbekistan in a two-legged affair).

But turning it around has to start now. The Yanks have to handle their business in these qualifiers, and make at least the Gold Cup final to build momentum toward Russia. Anything short of that is abject failure.

Again, this absolutely should happen, starting Friday. Even given the poor start, losses or even a pair of draws this week would be legitimately shocking, and set the program back ages. Howard set it up well Tuesday when he pointed out that the U.S. has gotten to points like this before, and they always belly up to the bar and outlast all comers.

A lot of fans have this nagging voice in their heads, asking nefariously, “What if they don’t?”

Podolski after golazo finale: “This is like a great movie”

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.

Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.

And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.

“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”

It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).

From Goal.com:

“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.

“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”

Feel good hit of the Spring.